Now, even those get-togethers are gone. County teams are likely to still face one another in the major sports going forward — a policy the county had held for over a decade since the four-high school era began — but those contests will happen near the beginning of seasons, with lesser playoff stakes on the line and no conference race implications.
That’s despite the county schools’ classifications as of August still being conducive to just two leagues.
Of the 24 combined new conference foes for Burke’s teams, 12 will be first-time conference foes. Another three, the traditional Rutherford County schools, were alongside Patton only from 2009-13. EB shared a league with three Catawba County’s Bandys, Maiden and Newton-Conover for the same duration of just four years.
So only six of the new schools (Bunker Hill and West Caldwell for EB, plus Alexander Central, Hibriten, South Caldwell and Watauga for Freedom) have a previously-established connection with our county schools for a period of greater than four years over any point in the past.
And while fans don’t come to games strictly to see the intra-county matchups or established rivalries, those kinds of things certainly don’t hurt at the ticket gate.
What will, or certainly could, hurt however is the distance that fans from the other teams in these four leagues will have to travel to attend games here. Attendance will certainly suffer when you compare, for instance, Draughn hosting Patton versus Draughn hosting Rosman on a Tuesday night.