It is not a surprise. Nobody was shocked and none were taken aback by the news that Tyler Consolidated High School dropped a classification from class AA to class A last week. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission announced that 14 high schools, grades 9-12, in West Virginia would be changing classification, due to enrollment size of each particular school, with Tyler listed as one school dropping a classification.
The Silver Knights have never been other than class AA in the history of the school.
"The SSAC reviews the classifications every four years, and which class a school falls in depends entirely on their enrollment," said Athletic Director at Tyler Consolidated, Ryan Walton. "And enrollment can depend on everything from the economy to jobs lost or gained, new people moving in, people moving out, etc."
Tyler Consolidated has an official enrollment of 415 students at present time and went from being one of the smaller class AA schools in the state to the fifth largest school in the single A category. Up river long-time rivals, the Magnolia Blue Eagles, also dropped from class AA to class A, with an enrollment of 421 students.
Along with Consolidated and Magnolia, Greenbrier West, Tug Valley and Sherman also shift from class AA classification to class A, with Greenbrier West having the largest enrollment in the class with 428.
Moving from class AAA to class AA are: Bridgeport, Robert C. Byrd, Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont, North Marion and Nicholas County. And shifting from class AA to class AAA are Pt. Pleasant, Oak Hill and Shady Spring.
No schools from class A were moved up to class AA.
These classifications will take effect at the beginning of the fall term next year and go through 2015-1016, when the WVSSAC will re-evaluate the classifications again.
"You have to look at this as a good thing," Walton said. "It's only fair that our teams compete against schools with the same number of students to draw from as what we have. It's unfair to our kids to expect them to compete with a school having 1000 or more students in the draw pile. It's tough for a small school to compete."
The classification to class A is one thing, the eventual Regional and Sectional alignment will be quite another. The bumping down of Tyler Consolidated and Magnolia leaves only two class AA schools now in the northern panhandle, Oak Glen and Weir. It is hoped that the WVSSAC will put a lot of time and thought into realigning the Sectionals and Regionals in order to keep the competition fair for one and all.
"Now there will be daunting task," Walton said. "They're going to have their work cut out for them separating everybody into different Sections and Regions to make it workable and keep it fair. I'm sure they are working to get it done as soon as possible."
As for now, several Silver Knight teams already have their 2012 schedules made out and completed for next years season.
"The change of our classification will have nothing to do with our schedules that are already complete," the A.D. said. "We will definitely be honoring all scheduling commitments we've made. Whether we will reschedule some of those teams in the future or not will depend on the individual sport."
A few Silver Knight sports programs will not be affected at all by the change of classification due to the fact that certain sports already compete in the combined A/AA class.
Teams at Tyler Consolidated that will not be affected by the change are: wrestling, boys and girls soccer, and cross country. All other sports will be affected, more so by Regional alignment than by classification itself.
The drop in classification should not lead Silver Knight fans to believe that games will be easier to win or teams less competitive because of their class A standing. In reality, the drop in classification means no more than a drop of a letter from a name seeing as how recent state championships belong to powerhouse, competitive class A teams such as Williamstown, Wheeling Central, St. Marys, Wirt County, Moorefield, Clay-Battelle, and Weirton Madonna.