How will NCHSAA changes to 2021 fall football season and upcoming realignment affect local schools?

By Richard Walker

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has made news the last two days with changes to the fall 2021 football schedule and an announcement about realignment for schools that will begin with the 2021-22 school year.

On Thursday, the NCHSAA announced football regular seasons will be reduced from 11 to 10 games and it will stop subdividing football classifications for the playoffs that began in 2001 and have been used by each classification in 2002.

The reason for changing from 11 to 10 games is to push the start of the season to no earlier than two days prior to the last Friday in August.

The elimination of subdivided classifications will create four open classification title games in the 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A classifications and end the crowning of champions in 1AA, 2AA, 3AA and 4AA.

On Friday, the NCHSAA revealed its realignment plans by announcing each member school’s upcoming classification.

Locally, five schools are slated to change their classifications – Hunter Huss (moving from 3A to 2A) and South Point (2A to 3A) in Gaston County and East Lincoln (2A to 3A), Lincoln Charter (1A to 2A) and North Lincoln (2A to 3A) in Lincoln County.

The plan creates five Gaston County schools in the 1A classification (Bessemer City, Cherryville, Highland Tech, Mountain Island Charter and Piedmont Community Charter), seven Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln county schools in the 2A classification (Burns, East Gaston, Hunter Huss, Lincoln Charter, Lincolnton, Shelby and West Lincoln) and nine Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln county schools in the 3A classification (Ashbrook, Stuart Cramer, Crest, East Lincoln, Forestview, Kings Mountain, North Gaston, North Lincoln and South Point).

Schools have until Jan. 8 to appeal their classification placement.

NCHSAA will finalize league classification and league placements for the 2021-22 school year through the 2024-25 school year in March.