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Second-year William Fleming football coach Jamar Lovelace and the Colonels will automatically qualify for the 2019 VHSL playoffs — as will all the other schools in Region 5D.

William Fleming has won one football game in the past two years, and the Colonels have qualified for the VHSL playoffs just once in the past nine seasons.

Fleming will qualify for the Region 5D playoffs this year, though.

So will Patrick Henry.

And so will every other team in the region.

Four of the 12 schools that were in Region 5D last year have moved out. Massaponax and Potomac are now in Class 6, while Halifax County and Orange County have dropped to Class 4.

Eight schools — Fleming, PH, Albemarle, Brooke Point, Harrisonburg, Mountain View, North Stafford and Stafford — remain. All eight will qualify for the first round of the playoffs. Massaponax was the No. 1 seed in the Region 5D in 2018, while North Stafford won the title.

While Patrick Henry brings a string of seven consecutive playoff appearances into the season, Fleming has won just 21 games in the last nine years.

The shoe will be on the other foot for Franklin County this fall.

In each of the previous two years, the Eagles were part of a seven-team Region 6B, making the playoffs both times and winning a first-round game in 2018.

This year Franklin County has been moved to Region 6A, which includes 11 teams, meaning the Eagles will have to finish ahead of three of them in order to qualify.

Franklin County’s new region includes perennial powerhouses Oscar Smith and Ocean Lakes.

Three Rivers District pulls plug on tourneys

The Three Rivers District has done away with its fall and winter postseason tournaments for the 2019-20 school year, following its decision two years ago to scrap its spring sports tourneys.

Three Rivers will not hold postseason play in golf, cross country, volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling and swimming this season.

Giles athletic director Steve Wilson said weather-related postponements and difficulty finding sites large enough for some events prompted the move.

“The [schedule] has expanded so far, there’s no way to fit it all in,” Wilson said. “We were still making money in basketball, and we were probably still making money in baseball and softball.

“For some of the sports, finding venues was getting hard. We used to play our basketball tournament at Christiansburg [High School], but they want to have their gym available in case they need it.”

Six of the seven Three Rivers schools are members of Region 2C with Class 3 Carroll County being the lone exception.

All 14 schools in Region 2C qualify for the postseason in every sport but football.

“With everybody getting in the playoffs now, the district tournaments don’t really affect that,” Wilson said.

Pulaski Co.’s Ratcliff casts lot with Concord

Pulaski County rising senior guard Maddie Ratcliff has made a commitment to play women’s basketball at Division II Concord University.

Ratcliff was a second-team All-Timesland selection after averaging 11.8 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game at point guard and helping the Cougars reach the VHSL Class 4 championship game against Lake Taylor.

Ratcliff turned down an offer from Division I Charleston Southern in favor of Concord, located in Athens, West Virginia. She also had offers from Division II Coker (S.C.) and NAIA Pikeville.

“It was a hard decision, but at the same time it was pretty easy for me,” Ratcliff said. “As a kid you dream of playing Division I basketball, but sometimes it’s hyped up to be a little bit more than it is.”

Concord finished 23-7 last season with a roster that included former Timesland players Maggie Guynn (Narrows), Emily Boothe (Floyd County), Keeley Lundy (Carroll County), Alexis Phillips (Pulaski County) and Savannah Dunford and Gracie Robinson (Fort Chiswell).

“That was a factor,” Ratcliff said. “Being able to go somewhere where you know people and don’t have to completely restart is good.”

JF’s Cherry commits to Division I Mercer

Jefferson Forest outfielder Jackson Cherry has committed to play baseball at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Cherry, a rising senior, made first-team All-Timesland and first-team VHSL Class 4 in 2019 after batting .448 with a .589 on-base percentage.

He struck out only four times in 97 plate appearances and hit three home runs, two triples and eight doubles while scoring 30 runs.

Mercer won the Southern Conference tournament in May and qualified for the NCAA Athens Regional.

Roanoke Catholic adds Oct. 25 game to slate

Roanoke Catholic has picked up a late addition to its football schedule, adding an Oct. 25 road game against Manassas Park.

Five 2018 opponents — King & Queen, Fishburne Military, Eastern Montgomery, Fuqua and Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot — dropped Catholic from their schedules after the Celtics won their third consecutive VIS state championship.

Catholic also added Bath County, Parry McCluer and Blue Ridge as new opponents on this year’s schedule.

Manassas Park is a VHSL Class 3 school that made news in 2018 by cancelling its football season.

Manassas Park won the VHSL Division 2 state title in 2004.

Cave Spring taps Wynn as wrestling coach

Cave Spring High School has hired Ernest Wynn as its new wrestling coach.

Wynn formerly was wrestling coach at Roanoke's Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

Robert Anderson has been the high school sports editor of The Roanoke Times since 2001.

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