East Wilkes High School will leave the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Athletic Conference and join seven other area 1A schools in the new Northwest 1A Conference, according to final realignment data released today (Thursday) by the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

East Wilkes will join Alleghany, Elkin, Millennium Charter, Mount Airy, North Stokes, South Stokes and Starmount in the 1A conference, according to final realignment approved by the NCHSAA Board of Directors.

“East Wilkes is excited to join with the members in the new Northwest 1A Conference,” said East Athletic Director Justin Call today. “We are excited to compete in a straight 1A league and are looking forward to renewing our relationships with many of the previous schools that were with us during our time in the Northwest 1A during the early 2000s.”

The first draft of realignment on Dec. 10 had the four Wilkes County high schools remaining in a split 1A/2A conference, but East Wilkes appealed that alignment.

North Wilkes, West Wilkes and Wilkes Central high schools will remain conference foes in a seven-school, all–2A league. They will join former league foes East Surry, Forbush, North Surry and Surry Central in “Conference 37.”

Current MVAC member Ashe County will join the split 3A/4A “Conference 52” along with 3A schools Freedom and Hibriten.

Alexander Central, South Caldwell and Watauga high schools are the proposed 4A members of Conference 52. All of the conference’s six schools except Hibriten are currently in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference.

The realignment will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2021, and last through the 2024-25 school year.

Playoff seeding, game limits

Also on Thursday, the NCHSAA implemented a new playoff qualification process and seeding procedure. The state will now use an RPI formula to determine qualification and seeding.

The RPI formula will be used for all team-bracketed playoffs and will consist of 30% of a team’s winning percentage, 40% of that team’s opponent’s winning percentage, and 30% of the winning percentage of the opponents of a team’s opponents. In all calculations of opponent winning percentages, games involving the team whose RPI is being calculated are ignored.

The east and west regions are pre-determined and will be seeded independently of one another utilizing the RPI rating of each school. Conference champions will still be seeded prior to any other qualifying teams, based on their RPI rating. All other teams will be seeded after the conference champions by RPI rating regardless of conference finish.

Finally, the NCHSAA implemented new season limitations for the total number of allowable games for any team. In football, teams will be limited to 10 regular season contests per year.

For wrestling, there were no changes to the current season limitation. For all other sports, teams will be limited to 22 contests per sports season. The NCHAA also suspended the endowment game concept indefinitely.

Except for football and wrestling, all sports will be permitted one in-season tournament with a three-game maximum, which would only count as one game or match. Any game beyond the third game of an in-season tournament would count as an individual game towards the season limit.

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