After years of competing at the Group AAA Division 6 level, Bethel is appealing the Virginia High School League's decision to reclassify the football program as D-5.
The VHSL announces its divisions every two years, and earlier this month the Bruins were placed in Division 5 because of the school's enrollment. There are 39 schools in the Eastern Region, and the VHSL draws a line at the median point on the enrollment list.
The VHSL's guidelines say that if there's an odd number, such as in this case, the larger number of schools will be in the smaller division. And Bethel — with 1,836 students, according to the VHSL's data — was the last one out of Division 6 and the first one in D-5.
Principal John Bailey appealed the decision to the VHSL Executive Committee in a letter dated Sept. 1.
"We've always had a larger enrollment, and right now we're close to 1,850 students," Bailey said. "So we asked for consideration (for) Division 6 based on our numbers.
"I have a lot of respect for (VHSL executive director) Ken Tilley, and we'll respect the decision whichever direction it goes. But we would prefer to be in Division 6."
Bethel's appeal is on the agenda for the next Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday.
In his letter to the VHSL, Bailey pointed out that Bethel will be adding a Health Sciences Career Academy in the fall of 2010, which he said will "significantly increase our enrollment." He also said Bethel has averaged more than 1,800 students for the last 10 years.
Four Peninsula District schools — Woodside, Gloucester, Menchville and Kecoughtan — are in Division 6. The other six — Bethel, Warwick, Heritage, Denbigh, Hampton and Phoebus — are Division 5.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun