Heritage, Trinity OK with GISA dropping to two classifications

by Doug Gorman and Chris Goltermann

Is bigger always better? As far as baseball card collections, televisions and muscle cars from the ‘60s the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

As far as Coweta’s two private schools currently playing in the Georgia Independent Schools Association, not necessarily.

The GISA — as the result of the eminent departure of several longtime members — recently announced it will shrink from three classifications to just two starting this fall with the 2014-15 school year.

It will be the first time since 1995 that the GISA will have two classifications, with 66 member schools listed on its reclassification plan.

The move comes at a time where larger schools — some of which are current region football opponents of both The Heritage School and Trinity Christian — are joining the Georgia High School Association. Others, meanwhile, have left to join the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association as either a full-time or part-time member.

The GICAA lists 74 schools, though many, like Oak Mountain in Carroll as well as LaGrange Academy, currently play sports in both organizations, partly because the school chooses to play boys soccer in the fall since they do not field football teams.

Others, like Harvester Christian and Twiggs Academy, play in the ICSGA 8-man football leagues, but are GISA members in other sports.

The GISA heads of school, however, voted this month to not allow schools to participate in both leagues. The only exception will be if the GICAA offers a sport that is not offered by the GISA. Member schools have until Fec. 3 to make a decision.

“The good thing about this is teams have to be all in,” Heritage School football coach Kevin Prisant said. “There were a lot of schools playing GISA in some sports and not in others. Now they can’t pick and choose.”

Officials at both Heritage and Trinity were adamant this week that its athletic programs weren’t going anywhere.

“I like it,” Prisant added, having played and coached at GISA schools throughout his career. “I think it’s something that needed to be done. There are a lot of teams leaving the GISA, and I understand it, but I am a GISA guy and in the long run, it was for the best.”

Hawks and Lions football teams battled Macon-area schools Mount de Sales, Stratford Academy and Tattnall Square for playoff positioning each of the last two seasons among six schools Region 2-AAA.

The county rivals succeeded in 2012, eventually facing each other for first place. This past fall, the three opponents, which have combined for 41 region titles and 23 state championships, all announced plans to leave for the GHSA.

By condensing into just AAA and AA football classifications, a new region for Heritage School and Trinity expects to have 10 schools, seven of which play football.

“I’m a big fan of more schools in a classification, more competition, more opponents in a region,” said Trinity Christian high school principal and acting athletic director Matthew Schock. “It does help the travel. It’ll be nice not going to Macon and you’ll have less non-region games to worry about.”

Yet a new proposed region, which expects to include Loganville Christian, Griffin Christian, Young Americans (Conyers), Bethlehem Christian, Holy Spirit (Atlanta), and Dominion Christian (Marietta) should help keep travel costs down.

It will allow Heritage to keep its football rivalry with former region foe Flint River while also keeping Southland on its non-region schedule. The Hawks will add John Milledge, a dominant Class AA program last fall, as its other non-region opponent.

“We are happy we get to keep these non-region games,” Prisant said.

Trinity head football coach Chris Hanson, who also completed his third full season with the Lions, agrees that the move will be beneficial.

“I think they’re doing a good thing. They trying to create less travel and that’s always a good thing,” he said. “I think it will benefit all of the GISA, not just us.”



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