Starting next school year, all three Logan County high schools will be competing in the same classification.
Following the WVSSAC’s realignment, which was released last Thursday afternoon, Logan High School will be dropping from Class AAA to 2A and Man High School will be rising from Single-A to Double-A.
Chapmanville Regional High School will remain as a Class AA school.
Logan’s drop was widely suspected.
Man being elevated from Class A to 2A was a bit of a surprise.
According to the new enrollment figures issued by the SSAC, Man, with 460 students, will be the smallest Class AA school in the state.
Man High School was previously a Double-A school in 2003 but have been Single-A ever since.
Logan High School has been traditionally a Class AAA school but were 2A from 2003-08. LHS has been competing at the Triple-A level since August 2008.
Logan football coach Gary Mullins said he’s happy to be back in Double-A. Mullins led the Wildcats to a pair of Class AA playoff appearances and three more in 3A over the last eight seasons.
“It’s definitely what we were hoping for,” Mullins said of going back to 2A. “It’s not like it makes things easy and we are guaranteed to do certain things because there are a lot of good teams in Double-A but what it does is put us on an even playing field to where we can compete numbers-wise and all of the schools are to within 300 or 400 of each other instead of it being a 1,500 student gap. We’re just glad that we are in the division that I thought that we should have been all along.”
The WVSSAC’s new realignment begins for the 2016-17 school year and will last until the 2019-20 season.
Logan’s enrollment has only dropped slightly even with demise of the coal industry and the loss of thousands of Coalfield jobs during the Obama years. LHS was one of nine Class AAA schools to fall into the 2A ranks.
“That part is definitely sad in that part for our community,” Mullins said about the loss of coal and coal-related jobs which has forced some families to move away. “But I’m not sure how many our numbers actually dropped. We were in the 700s I know, so we probably only dropped 10 or 15 students. I think they did a good job of trying to get the students and the school together that are closer in size. It’s just one of those things that you hope that the economy can pick back up and we don’t keep losing kids. But with what is going on you never know what is going to happen from day to day.”
In the new realignment, Logan will be the 13th-largest 2A school in the state with 757 students.
Lincoln County also moves down to AA 871 students and will be the largest Double-A school in the state. Winfield (861), Oak Hill (851), Shady Spring (849), Elkins (833), Nitro (759), Lewis County (757).and Point Pleasant (751) are also moving down to Double-A next fall.
“They had to make a break somewhere,” Mullins said. “We’re just happy that the break happened where it did and we can be in a more competitive field. There’s some good teams. Point Pleasant dropped to Double-A. Point Pleasant and Bridgeport are as good as any football team in the state, no matter what class they are in. It’s going to be tough but at least we are where we should be and we feel like we can compete there.”
Logan Athletics Director Brian Atkinson said he’s happy LHS will be in Double-A.
“There were a few surprises there that me and the coaches were looking at,” Atkinson said. “But we’re not complaining because I think with the cuts that they made it will benefit Logan High School and southern West Virginia. It cuts the travel time down and we can level up the competition. I think that it’s going to be good.”
Man was the only school in the state to move up in classification.
“It kind of surprised me that we are the smallest Double-A,” said Man’s Harvey Arms, who coaches the Hillbillies’ football and boys’ basketball squads. “With the numbers I thought that they might not drop that many down but it’s kind of strange that we were the only school in the state to move up in classification.”
Being the smallest school in the state in 2A will present challenges for Man High School, Arms said. The Man football team, however, has played many Double-A teams over the last 10 years when it has been a Class A school and has had a lot of success.
“It’s been since 2003 since we were Double-A,” Arms said. “Well, we’ve got to make it work. We have to accept the challenge and get out and work hard and do what we have to do to compete.”
Man, however, enjoyed success in Single-A.
The Man baseball team won a state championship two years ago and were state runner-ups last year. The Man softball team has two Single-A state titles and a runner-up finish. The Man cheerleading squad has been the Class A state runner-ups in each of the last two seasons.
The Man softball, girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball teams have also made it to the state tournament.
Coach Arms’ Man football team advanced to the Wheeling Super Six in 2009 and were the Class A state runner-ups after falling 27-7 to Weirton Madonna.
“It was good for us being Single-A these years,” Arms said. “Also before that, Man High School had some pretty good success in Double-A. We’ll just have to make it work.”
In the new enrollment figures, Mingo Central will be the 19th-largest Class AA school in the state with 699 students. Chapmanville ranks 20th with 694 students, while Scott High School is 22nd with 682.
Ravenswood (433) is the largest A team and moves down with Mount View (420) and Tolsia (410).
Tug Valley High School will remain in Class A with 366 students. TVHS is the 16th-largest Single-A school in the state.
There will be 54 Class A schools, 44 Double-A and 29 in Triple-A.
Ripley is the smallest 3A school with an enrollment of 933. Cabell Midland is the largest at 1,965. Morgantown (1,808) is second, Parkersburg (1,798) third, Huntington (1,658) fourth and Parkersburg South (1,576) fifth.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).