The first shoe to drop in the Georgia High School Association’s reclassification came earlier this week and was met with further anticipation for what the final results will look like.
Although none of Cherokee County’s six schools moved classifications, the regions will undoubtedly look different starting next fall.
Cherokee, Etowah and Woodstock will no longer be in the same region as Lassiter, which will be moving down to Class AAAAAA. Creekview, River Ridge and Sequoyah will no longer be paired with Harrison, which will be moving up to Class AAAAAAA.
New regions will not be set until schools have a chance to appeal. According to Cherokee County School District athletic director Tonya Sebring, the GHSA is hoping to have the new regions set prior to Thanksgiving break.
“There were no real surprises as it relates to the Cherokee County Schools,” Sebring said via email. “All schools were placed in the expected classification. It will be interesting to see the region assignments for the CCSD 6A schools. There are a number of different variables to consider. I think we just have to wait to see if any schools outside of Cherokee decide to appeal, apply for isolation or any opt to play up, which will likely all affect the outcome.”
In Cherokee, the new regions are what most coaches in the area are focused on.
“I think everyone is just anxious to see how they’re going to draw out the regions,” River Ridge football coach Mike Collins said. “I heard it should be finalized by early December, but then I also heard possibly in January. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.”
Creekview, River Ridge and Sequoyah are currently members of the nine-team Region 6AAAAAA, and with multiple Cobb County schools moving down to Class AAAAAA, the new regions could shift in a variety of ways.
“It’s hard to form an opinion because we don’t know what our region will look like,” Sequoyah boys basketball coach Allen Carden said. “What I’m hearing is there are about four different scenarios for our region. We could be paired with traditional Cobb schools. Another scenario is with the Fulton schools, and then there’s a mix of both in another scenario. In one scenario, there could be a 10-team region, and I really don’t favor that.”
For Cherokee, Etowah and Woodstock, the solution appears to be a bit simpler. Replacing Lassiter and keeping Region 4AAAAAAA as a six-team region is the likely scenario, but nothing is set in stone according to Cherokee football coach Josh Shaw, who said the first reveal went about as he expected.
“We started hearing some things a couple months ago, and I think it went kind of as we planned,” Shaw said. “I think the biggest shock for me personally was the city schools and private schools throughout the state who got bumped up not only one, but two classifications. With Lassiter moving down, obviously our region will look different. I’m hearing it could possibly be Milton and or Alpharetta, but whether or not that’s accurate or not, I really don’t know.”
GHSA members will continue to be split into seven classifications based on enrollment numbers. This, however, is the first reclassification in which a 2.0 multiplier was applied to students living outside a school’s attendance zone, in order to create a more competitive playing field, particularly with regards to city schools and private schools which draw a large percentage of out-of-zone students.
The reclassification will affect different sports in different ways as well.
“From a cross country perspective, in terms of who’s moving up, there were a couple of teams that are going to make a big difference,” Etowah cross country coach Garret Hurlbert said. “Harrison moving up is huge. I think their boys were the No. 1 team regardless of class. They’re right there in Cobb and could easily end up in our region. For both cross country and track, the overall difficulty for 7A definitely went up.”
With uncertainty comes possible new rivalries, a situation that is not all bad according to Shaw.
“Once you see what all the regions look like, you’re able to start building a schedule and able to see what out-of-region games are possible,” Shaw said. “Any time a reclassification happens, it does bring some excitement to the offseason.”