Staying put, but changes afoot
by Chris Goltermann
The next reclassification period in the Georgia High School Association won't cause as many rumbles for Coweta County schools as it did previously.
But there will be some changes coming this way.
On Monday, when the GHSA released its classification divisions for 2014-2016 comprised of school enrollments for grades 9-12, both East Coweta and Newnan found themselves still in Class AAAAAA and Northgate back in AAAAA similar to where each has been from 2012-2014.
E a s t Co we ta's 2,855 students ranked as the ninth largest enrollment in the GHSA while Newnan's 2,292 was 26th, wel l above the top-half of the 67 schools that will make up Class AAAAAA from 2014-16.
Northgate, meanwhile, remains one of Class AAAAA's largest, with its 1,773 students ranking fifth among the 74 schools placed in the classification. But there are no plans to move up according to high school athletic director Dr. Eric Fiske.
'Not that I know of,' he said. 'When the numbers came out, we were still in Class AAAAA. That's where I expected us to be.'
Yet how each will be aligned within new regions is the question at hand for all three county high schools.
GHSA members have until Dec. 2 to petition the association to move up in classification from where they are now listed. The following morning, the reclassification committee in Thomaston will meet to place schools into regions. The new regions will be finalized on Jan. 14 by a full executive committee.
Typically, the GHSA splits each classifications into eight regions allowing the top-four placers in each sport to advance to state tournaments.
Taking current regions into consideration, there will be some subtractions elsewhere however.
For example, in Region 3-AAAAAA, East Coweta and Newnan are among five schools left in the current six-team alignment. Tri-Cities will drop to Class AAAAA.
Which means it's likely that East Coweta, Newnan, Douglas County, Langston Hughes and Westlake could have some new company. If the region stays with five schools, football programs will now have to find six nonregion opponents to schedule over the next two years.
Most of the other eight regions expect to see little change in AAAAAA. In south Georgia, 1-AAAAAA loses Brunswick and Coffee but is likely to add Lee County.
In the Atlanta area, Regions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 have all of their schools returning and will have to find spots for Northview and Pope.
One option could be to merge the f ive remaining 3-AAAAAA schools into 2-AAAAAA with Lovejoy, Newton, Alcovy and Rockdale County.
But the GHSA has to find homes for DeKalb schools Tucker and Lakeside, which are both moving up as well as Evans of Augusta and Richmond Hill. The other option locally could be to break up Cobb County's schools and put Pebblebrook, Campbell, South Cobb and/or Osborne with the five remaining schools in 3-AAAAAA.
As for Northgate in Class AAAAA, the school expects to be losing longtime rival Whitewater, which dropped to Class AAAA status and is likely to stay there with Fayette County, Sandy Creek and Griffin all nearby to form a new region.
That leaves Northgate with McIntosh, Starr's Mill and Creekside among remaining schools from the Vikings' current football subregion.
From there, there's a number of possibilities of how the region could be set up. Depending on location, opponents could be centered from Henry (Woodland-Henry, Union Grove, Dutchtown, Ola, Stockbridge], Clayton [Mundy's Mill, Drew, Forest Park, Morrow] or Douglas/ Carroll/S. Fulton [Villa Rica, Alexander, Tri-Cities].