NCHSAA realignment means shorter distances and bigger pockets for local high school teams - Lexington Dispatch

NCHSAA realignment means shorter distances and bigger pockets for local high school teams - Lexington Dispatch
South Davidson athletic teams will soon have to travel less for games. The Wildcats are moving from the Yadkin Valley Conference to a new split 1-A/2-A league in the fall. [Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch]

It costs $1 a mile to operate a school activity bus in Davidson County.

That can really add up over the course of a school year. Just ask South Davidson High School Principal Kevin Hudson. He knows.

South Davidson is a small school and because of that is in the NCHSAA’s 1-A classification. That means belonging to the far-flung Yadkin Valley Conference and the travel is onerous. On top of that, there are no natural rivals.

That’s about to change.

South will remain a 1-A school. But, effective in the fall, South will be paired with county schools Lexington, West Davidson, East Davidson, and Thomasville along with Salisbury and North Rowan in a split 1-A/2-A conference as part of the 2021-25 NCHSAA realignment.

And that’s good news.

“Yes, we’re excited about that,” Hudson said. “…Being with folks from Davidson County, people that we know, and Salisbury and North Rowan, I think that’s a good opportunity for us.”

Currently, South teams face a combined 534 miles round trip for one game with each of their eight YVC opponents. Chatham Central is 55 miles away, making for greater than an hour bus trip one way. A trip to North Moore is 50 miles one way. The closest opponent is North Stanly, 22 miles away.

It will be much more favorable for South in the new conference. The combined trip for six conference opponents is 266 miles. The longest trip will be to Salisbury, 34 miles away. East is 13 miles away while Lexington is 16 miles away and Thomasville 17 miles distant.

“Of course, less travel means more money in our pockets, so that’s good,” Hudson said. “Everybody’s close. East is right up [Highway] 109 from us. Of course, West always brings a good crowd.”

South already has a long-established relationship with West in all sports. Noth Rowan is a current YVC opponent.

On the other side of the equation, South as a small school has struggled to be competitive in many sports. The degree of difficulty is likely to increase in the new conference.

“That’s been an issue but I am excited about being in a 1-A/2-A conference,” Hudson said. “It’s going to be a little difficult because the schools are going to be a little bigger than us. But we’re going to play hard and compete the best we can.”

Here is a look at how other county schools will fare under realignment.


On the face of it, Thomasville’s savings aren’t that much. But it’s all about what could have been.

Thomasville is currently in the 2-A classification. Declining enrollment means the Bulldogs will be heading back to 1-A. Previously, that meant belonging to the YVC and facing the same long bus trips just like South.

But with the split 1-A/2-A conference, that’s not going to happen. And that’s a good thing for the Bulldogs.

“Absolutely,” said Thomasville Athletics Director Steve Bare. “I think when you look at it, not just in our conference but from East to West, that was obviously a high priority for the realignment committee.

“So I think they heard the membership and tried to make travel reasonable.”

Being in the YVC was not good for Thomasville in terms of revenue. The travel was long and there were no real rivals with the exception of Albemarle in football. That had nothing to do with the community aspect. Both were football powerhouses who combined to win six consecutive 1-AA state championships from 2001-06.

The split conference keeps Thomasville with Lexington, West Davidson, East Davidson and Salisbury. South Davidson and North Rowan are former YVC opponents.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Bare said. “I’ve never seen this many split conferences. … It’s good for travel and local rivalries. It’s going to be very encouraging to be with folks we know.”

Thomasville’s current longest drive is 41 miles to South Rowan. Ledford is the closest at 6.7 miles and the schools could continue that relationship as non-conference rivals.

Under the new setup, Salisbury at 33 miles will be the most distant. Lexington is the closest at 13 miles.


The Yellow Jackets will derive some savings. They have a combined 249.2 miles for nine conference opponents. The most distant opponent is South Rowan at 30 miles one way.

That changes to 175.8 miles for six conference opponents. The closest is West Davidson at 8.9 miles one way. Lexington will certainly continue to play North Davidson, a longtime rival, as a non-conference foe. The schools are 7.1 miles apart. The same can be said for Central Davidson, which is 7.6 miles one way.

North Davidson

North Davidson is moving up to 3-A and that means an entirely different setup with being in a small conference in terms of members.

The Black Knights will be in a conference with Oak Grove, Central Davidson, Ledford, Asheboro, and Montgomery Central. 

Under the present setup, the most distant rival is South Rowan at 36 miles. That jumps to 53 with Montgomery Central. Asheboro is 34 miles. Oak Grove is and will remain the closest at 6.5 miles. Ledford is also close at 9.6 miles.

So there won’t be a lot of net change for North Davidson. 

Central Davidson

The Spartans’ most distant rival is South Rowan at 32 miles. That changes to Montgomery Central at 38 miles. Asheboro is 29 miles one way. Central’s closest current rival is Lexington at 7.6 miles. In the new conference, North Davidson is the nearest at 14 miles.

If Central is able to keep some of its current CCC rivals as non-conference opponents, the travel could be about the same.

Oak Grove

The Grizzlies have a good travel schedule currently in the CCC, which has all Davidson County schools except Salisbury. North is closest at 6.5 miles, with Thomasville (7.2 miles, East Davidson (10 miles), and Lexington (11 miles) being close. The most distant is South Rowan at 41 miles.

In the new conference, Montgomery is 60 miles away and Asheboro comes in at 36 miles. Oak Grove can keep its travel costs down by retaining several CCC schools as non-conference opponents.


The Panthers also have a favorable situation in the CCC with several close rivals in Oak Grove (4.9 miles), Thomasville (6.7 miles), North Davidson (9.6 miles) and East Davidson (9.7 miles). The most distant is South Rowan at 43 miles.

Montgomery Central will become the most distant conference rival at 60 miles, with Asheboro at 36 miles.

Ledford can keep travel costs reasonable by maintaining some CCC schools as non-conference rivals. East Davidson is a longtime rival.

West Davidson

The Green Dragons should continue to have favorable travel with the new split 1-A/2-A conference. 

West’s most distant rival now is South Rowan at 26 miles. Lexington is the closest at 8.9 miles and North Davidson is 12 miles away.

In the new conference, South Davidson is 25 miles one way and the schools already have a longstanding relationship. Lexington remains the closest at 8.9 miles and North Rowan will be near at 11 miles.

East Davidson

The Golden Eagles shouldn’t see a great deal of change if some current CCC schools are kept as non-conference rivals.

East’s current longest trip is 38 miles to South Rowan. The closest is Thomasville at 5.2 miles, with Ledford (9.7 miles), Oak Grove (10 miles), Lexington (11 miles) and North Davidson (13 miles) also being near.

In the new conference, Salisbury is the most distant at 30 miles and Thomasville remains the closest.

Mike Duprez can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 218 or Follow Mike on Twitter@LexDispatch_md.