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Six Virginia Catholic schools were in line to start their own league. What’s next?  November 15, 2017 – 05:52 am
Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School Profile | Dumfries

The proposed Virginia Catholic League will not be forming for the 2016-2017 school year, and opinions vary as to whether the league will be conceived at all.

Under the initial concept, the four Catholic high schools from Northern Virginia (Bishop Ireton, Bishop O’Connell, Saint John Paul the Great, and Pope Paul VI), Benedictine from Richmond and Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach would merge to form a separate athletic entity.

The possibility of creating such a league was the topic of a Washington Post story on January 7, 2016 by Brandon Parker, and was published a week after five of the six school’s athletic directors met at Saint John Paul the Great in Dumfries to discuss the idea. The idea of a six-team VCL became realistic in late 2015 as O’Connell withdrew its football team from the highly competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). For a school to compete as a full member of the WCAC, it must compete in either basketball or football, or both.

At the time, O’Connell Athletic Director Joe Wootten told the Post that the “exploratory committee of sorts” was engaged in “very preliminary” talks. He added that “this is more so something to look at two or three years down the road.”

Six months later, little seems to have changed, except that the formation of a VCL for the 2016-17 school year will not happen. As for the future, there is no certainty of the league forming, mainly because the first meeting has not developed into a second.

Bill Simmons, Athletic Director at Ireton, recently said, “I don’t see this happening. We talked about football just to see and fill up our schedules. The developments at (Bishop) Sullivan make it less likely even that will continue. Northern Virginia schools can get all of that approach in the WCAC without going to Virginia Beach.”

Rich Hine, Athletic Director at Bishop Sullivan, told recruit757 that the Crusaders will stay in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools (TCIS), but that the football team will play an independent schedule, analogous to Notre Dame, which for many years competed at the college level in the Big East for all sports except football. At the time of the Post article, Hine noted that several WCAC teams had called him to explore the possibility of scheduling a game.

Bishop Sullivan’s entry into the upper echelon of prep football schools was cemented after the hiring of coach Chris Scott, who stepped down from the same position at Ocean Lakes after sporting an 86-10 record, while winning a state title in 2014. Several of Scott’s star players including Khalan Laborn, are also transferring to Sullivan, immediately making them one of the better teams in Virginia, private or public.

Ryan Hall, Athletic Director at Benedictine, also stated that the league “will not happen” next year, but left open the remote possibility of a future merger. Hall noted that there was a lot of work needed if a Virginia Catholic League was to be formed.


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