Buffalo Gap is officially dropping to Class 1 when the 2021-22 school year begins.
The Bison cleared the final hurdle of the long process Wednesday by receiving formal approval from the Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee.
The school had requested the move after being only two students over the 474 limit for Class 1 and its enrollment steadily heading down. Gap has shown no growth since 2007, and has lost 24 percent of its student enrollment since then.
“Our booster club and our teams will benefit the most from the move as we should have more opportunities for home games,” Buffalo Gap athletic director Andrew Grove said. “There should be a change in attitude throughout the school with more success in the postseason.”
The booster club benefits from the concession sales as the host schools in the postseason do not receive the gate receipts, which go directly into the region’s coffers.
The move means the Bison will be joining arch-rival Riverheads in Region 1B for what promising to be a rollicking good time if the two schools get matched up in win-or-go-home regional games, or for that matter, state contests except in football. Picture the Bison and Gladiators squaring off in the Class 1 state semifinals for the right to play for the title. Unfortunately under the current state brackets, two teams from the same region can’t meet up in the finals.
“We have great crowds for all of our [Riverheads] games during the regular season,” Grove said. “Just think about how big they will become if we are matched up in the playoffs.”
The addition of Gap, which should be the biggest Class 1 school in the state, gives the region its fourth new school in the last three years. Franklin, Sussex Central and Surry County were switched from Region 1A prior to the 2019-20 season to give the region nine schools in football, which finally halted the ridiculousness of winless teams making the postseason … i.e. Stonewall Jackson and Cumberland for two straight years.
When the move becomes official next year, the breakdown of the Shenandoah District, which also will welcome the arrival of Waynesboro, will be drastically altered. Besides Gap and Riverheads being Class 1, Fort Defiance, Staunton, Waynesboro and Wilson Memorial are Class 3. Stuarts Draft becomes the district’s lone Class 2 member.
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