07/15/05 — OPINION -- Realignment gives new look to prep scene

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OPINION -- Realignment gives new look to prep scene

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 15, 2005 1:53 PM

Everything old is new again.

Three area conferences involving schools in the News-Argus coverage area retained their names, but changed their looks geographically in the latest N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment.

The Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference has six member schools -- Eastern Wayne, Charles B. Aycock, Southern Wayne and Kinston; plus newcomers Wilson Hunt and Wilson Beddingfield.

Look for this league to gain considerable respect in volleyball, boys/girls soccer and boys basketball. The ECC has already turned heads in football and baseball, especially in the postseason the past two years.

South Lenoir and SouthWest Edgecombe exited from the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference, and each will be missed. However, Farmville Central and Goldsboro High have replaced those schools. Look for strong rivalries to surface against current members Greene Central, North Lenoir, North Pitt and Tarboro High.

Known for its bruising mentality in football, the league just got tougher and more physical. Farmville has been a dominant power the last four seasons on the 1-A level.

Meanwhile, Goldsboro brings tradition to a league that's emerging as one of the best in the state.

And don't think the EPC will be just a "football" conference. This six-member league should field some great boys and girls basketball teams, and keep its top-notch status in baseball and softball. After all, three teams emerged state champions last year -- SW Edgecombe (girls basketball) and North Lenoir (baseball/softball).

Farmville's ascension to 2-A dropped the Carolina 1-A Conference to six teams.

As mentioned before, the Jaguars' departure shouldn't be missed too much. All six schools -- particularly Rosewood, Ayden-Grifton and North Johnston -- field quality teams in every sport and contend for state titles as well. Expect the same this year.

The new realignment didn't affect the Super Six 1-A Conference. Wallace-Rose Hill, always a dominant force in boys' athletics, and James Kenan are usually the front runners in football. Union, Midway, Hobbton and Lakewood have either enjoyed continued success or greatly improved their respective programs. The positive changes have given the conference considerable notoriety regionally and statewide.

It's hard to believe the opening day of high school football season is 17 days away.

Who wonders what the season will bring?

We'll know Aug. 19 when the following area games are played -- Goldsboro at Rocky Mount Senior High; C.B. Aycock at West Carteret; Greene Central at D.H. Conley and James Kenan at East Duplin.

An experimental, one-year individual participation rule had been proposed for the 2005 season. The association's Sports Medicine Committee, however, did not approve the change.

The rule would have granted a ninth- or 10th-grader, who is not a starter or regular player on varsity, permission to play in two games per week. The committee voiced concerns and questioned the monitoring of the rule, safety of players since they'd participate on back-to-back days, and restrictions on how much a player could play in either game.