Northwestern District expansion approved

FRONT ROYAL — The Virginia High School League approved last week to allow the Northwestern District to expand from its current five schools to 13 beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

The 13-team Northwestern District will become the largest district in the state

Current NWD schools Skyline, Millbrook, James Wood, Handley and Sherando, will be joined by Warren County, Brentsville, Fauquier, Culpeper, Kettle Run, Liberty (Bealteton), Manassas Park and William Monroe.

Warren County was a charter member of the Northwestern District before leaving in 2007 to join the Evergreen District, thus allowing new Skyline to join the NWD instead.

Since then Warren has moved to the Bull Run District.

Warren County athletic director Ed Dike said he was pleased for the Wildcats to be rejoining the NWD.

"I was behind it 100 percent," Dike said. "It only benefits Warren County High School, it's student-athletes, parents and Wildcat Nation."

Benefits of the larger district will be ease of scheduling and familiarity between all of the schools.

The move will also bring Warren County and Skyline into the same district for the first time.

"That's a big key, right now we are always going to be compared to Warren County," Skyline athletic director Bill Cupp said. "Being in different district, it's not an apples to apples comparison. This way it allows the community to judge that. I think it will benefit both schools to play the same schools."

Of the 13 teams in the district, seven will be 4A and six will be 3A

Another benefit, especially for Warren County and Skyline and the other 3A schools is the fact that all will play in the same region.

An key consideration since beginning in 2017, regional play will be the start of the postseason.

Cupp says Skyline will still be the smallest school in the expanded district, but instead of having a gap of 400 to 500 to the rest of the schools, the Hawks will be within 100 students of most of the 3A schools.

Current 4A schools in the district, Sherando, Millbrook, James Wood and Handley will be joined by new 4A schools Liberty, Kettle Run and Fauquier.

New 3A schools joining Skyline will be Warren, Culpeper, Brentsville, Manassas Park and William Monroe.

"Playing those schools head to head will allow for better seeding in regional tournaments," Cupp said. "Overall, this is a step in the correct direction for the 13 schools involved.

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