VHSL six-classification system a virtual certainty, but not without its problems

In the future, Phoebus' football team will compete for the Group 4 championship.

"I wonder if there are going to be big gates for early-round football games or basketball tournament games," he said. "We made a $52,000 profit on football in Region I last year after giving the VHSL its $18,000.

"That pays for a lot of stuff like tennis, golf, track, cross country, debate and forensics. We've made money in the region every year but one (of 16) I've been at Lafayette, but now I wonder if this is going to cost the region money."

End of district tournaments

Because conferences will become the first entry into postseason play, Sutton and Poquoson athletic director Ken Bennett said that the Bay Rivers no longer will conduct tournaments. The Peninsula District likely will follow suit.

"We've talked about it, and it hadn't been 100 percent decided yet," Heritage athletic director Dwayne Peters said. "But with the general talk, we're probably going to do away with our district tournaments."

How feasible it is for districts with teams in three different classes to remain intact in the future is unclear. Dolan said a points structure giving larger schools bonus points for beating smaller ones in district play likely will be implemented to serve as incentive to keep districts together.

New rivalries

With Phoebus moving to Group 4A and Hampton in Group 5A, the city rivals no longer will meet in regional football play, as they have so often the past two decades. Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said it's enough for him that the Phantoms will play their PD rivals during the regular season.

"The only time the (Group) 4 thing kicks in is in the playoffs, so technically we're still playing against high-level competition," Sexton said.

But Sexton is excited about the postseason competition in Group 4A, where four-time state football champion Phoebus is in the same region with Grafton, Smithfield, Jamestown, Tabb and a host of current Division 5 powers.

"I'll tell you what, (Group) 4 (South Region) is going to be tough," Sexton said. "You have Norcom and Lake Taylor, and then you have Hanover and Dinwiddie from the Central Region. Grafton made the (state) Division 4 semifinals last year.

"It's going to be a tough road in (Group) 4."

The change also means a school like Petersburg, which was the Group AAA state runner-up in boys basketball to Hampton last winter, is in the same Group 3A region along with Lafayette, New Kent, Poquoson, York and Warhill. So is John Marshall of Richmond, which nearly always has one of the best basketball teams in the state.

Staff writers Dave Johnson and Lynn Burke contributed to this report.

Virginia High School League Reclassification

In southeastern Virginia, here is the setup:

Group 6A

Conference 1: Bayside, Cox, First Colonial, Landstown, Ocean Lakes, Tallwood and Granby.

Conference 2: Bethel, Kecoughtan, Woodside, Grassfield, Oscar Smith and Western Branch.

Group 5A