The North-South football game, in a way, brings down the curtain on the previous sports season. When it rises again in August, the landscape will have changed a good deal in West Virginia athletics.
The latest batch of SSAC reclassifications is sure to jumble the contenders and the pretenders when the new school year arrives. A few highlights:
Some of the schools moving down a class could be sitting on a gold mine of success.
Fairmont Senior, for instance, has been more than competitive in many AAA sports. Besides making the baseball state tournament nine times in the last 10 years, the Polar Bears won 21 games and were the No. 4 seed in the boys basketball tournament last March and just missed the football playoffs at 5-5 after making the 16-team field in 2010.
"We've always got good athletes coming through the school,'' said Trevor Malnick, an inside linebacker for the North from Fairmont Senior who also played baseball. "I think with the drop down to double-A, they have a good shot at winning some state championships at pretty much any sport they want to.''
Magnolia finds itself in a similar situation, moving to Class A after making its mark against bigger schools. Recently, the Blue Eagles won the AA boys basketball title in 2003, a baseball crown in 2006 and a football championship in 2010.
"A lot of things are going to change,'' said North wingback Jayson Keller of Magnolia, who also played basketball. "I've got a little brother who's still playing, so I'm going to [pay attention].
"But I think they can't get overconfident the next couple years, because single-A is not as easy as it sounds. Williamstown's pretty good at football, and Madonna and [Wheeling] Central.''
Of course, a downshoot of teams tackling smaller divisions is that they may lose some of the rivalries they developed in the other classes.
"They've changed the schedule all around,'' Malnick said of Fairmont Senior. "They have to play double-A schools now, but from what I've heard they're still going to try to play some of the rivalries.''
Keller has heard Magnolia's basketball schedule has some open dates because not many schools are lining up to play a team that returns 6-foot-7 Mark Winters, a state player of the year candidate.