Historic reclassification creates new monstrous regions

The 2024 GHSA football season is fast approaching and will have a new look with recent major classification changes.

It will be the first-ever season to see the state retract the number of classifications. However, the number of championships will remain the same, as Classes 1A-3A private schools will play for their own championship.

The setup has Classes 1A-3A private schools playing in regions, eligible for region championships. However, following the season they will be separated out and seeded by rankings determined by an algorithm.

On the public side, any team that finishes in the top four of their regions will automatically make the playoffs, while any spots left open by private schools that make the new private playoffs will be filled by teams seeded by the same ranking used for seeding the private schools.

The reclassification has created some monster regions that we have not regularly seen since the GHSA expanded to seven classifications. From 2023-2024, the average region will grow from 6.3 teams to 7.3 teams. Along with that, there will no longer be any regions with four or fewer teams. Six regions had four or fewer teams in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, causing two classifications to have a bye in the first round of the playoffs and two schools with one or fewer wins to make the playoffs in 2023.

The new region alignments will create a handful of regions that will be far more talented than others. Class 6A has one particularly tough region in Region 2-6A. The region consists of Carrollton, East Coweta, Chapel Hill, Douglas County, and Westlake. The region plays host to more than 20 Division-I players, including four 5-stars in Julian Lewis (QB, Carrollton), Aaron Gregory (ATH, Douglas County), Zelus Hicks (S, Carrollton), and Jordan Carter (EDGE, Douglas County). Over the past half-decade, Carrollton, Douglas County, and Westlake have all made at least one semifinal, while East Coweta has made the playoffs for six straight years, making the second round three times and winning a region title in 2020.

Class 5A has two notable regions, the first of which is Region 2-5A which may be the toughest region in the state with two defending state champions in Thomas County Central, who won 6A, and Coffee, who won 5A. Along with them are traditional powers Lee County, Houston County, and Northside-Warner Robins. The region is full of talent with multiple high-end players like Lee County 4-star running back Ousmane Kromah, Houston County 4-star quarterback Antwan Hill, Northside-Warner Robins 4-star offensive lineman Chastan Brown, Thomas County Central 4-star safety Kendarisu Reddick, and Thomas County Central 5-star edge rusher Cam Brooks.

Along with Region 2, there is Region 7, which is home to defending 7A champ Milton, along with traditional powers Gainesville and Roswell. Milton is returning the vast majority of players from its 2023 championship team, including 4-star wide receiver CJ Wiley, 4-star quarterback Luke Nickel, and 4-star tight end Ryan Ghea. Gainesville is coming off its second-straight undefeated regular season and a quarterfinals appearance. They return a number of pieces from a strong 2023 season, including 4-star offensive lineman Alex Payne and 4-star edge rusher Xavier Griffith. Roswell is fresh off its third-straight season making the quarterfinals or better. The Hornets don’t have some of the big names that Gainesville or Milton have, but they have a number of high-end recruits including 3-star edge rusher Koby Sakyi-Prah, 3-star offensive lineman Andrew Stargel, and tight end Ethan Gurela.

Class 4A has two regions that will see traditional football powers left out of the playoffs. Region 1-4A has four teams that have won a state championship in the last three years with Perry, who won the 4A championship in 2023, Ware County who won the 5A championship in 2022, Benedictine who won the 4A championships in 2021 and 2022, and Warner Robins who won the 5A championship in 2021. Along with them are Wayne County, who has made the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years, making the quarterfinals in 2022, and New Hampstead, who has made the playoffs in four-straight years, making the second round last year. The region is home to two elite prospects in Warner Robins’ 4-star edge rusher Isaiah Gibson and Wayne County’s 4-star linebacker Tavion Wallace.

The other formidable 4A region is Region 7, which has five teams that made the second round of the playoffs or better in 2023, with Cartersville making the 5A semifinals, Cass making the quarterfinals, Cedartown making the second round of the playoffs in 4A, Dalton making the 5A second round, and Hiram making the 5A second round. Along with them is Allatoona, who made the 6A state championship game in 2019 and is making the move down from 6A. The region will play host to 4-star Cass quarterback Brodie Mcwhorter, 4-star Cass offensive lineman Kail Ellis, 4-star Calhoun tight end Emaree Winston, and 4-star Cedartown safety Tae Harris.

Class 3A has one exceptionally hard region in Region 2. The region has nine teams, of those, two made the quarterfinals in 2023 in Spalding and Mary Persons. Two other schools have won state championships in the past three years with Sandy Creek in 2022 and Trinity Christian in 2021, while Troup, LaGrange, and Upson-Lee all made the second round of the playoffs last year. The region will be home to a handful of elite players including Sandy Creek 4-star athlete Dalen Penson, Sandy Creek 4-star running back Amari Latimer, Sandy Creek 3-star edge rusher Evan Harvey, and Troup offensive lineman Jatorian Blackmon.

The 2A region that will by far be the most competitive will be Region 3. Region 3 has three teams that were at the top of 2A in 2023 with Pierce County who won the classification going 14-1, Cook who made the semifinals, and Appling County who was the lone team to beat Pierce County, going 9-3 and being ranked as high as second in 2A before losing in the second round to Cook. Along with them is Crisp County, who has been a contender in past years in 3A, making the quarterfinals or better three times in the past five years, including a finals appearance in 2019. The region plays host to a handful of Division-I prospects, including Crisp County safety Cayden Daniels and Pierce County quarterback Caden McGatha, who is the reigning 2A Offensive Player of the Year.

Class A-DI is home to two of what look to be the toughest regions in the state with regions 3 and 8. Region 3 will be home to three teams that made the quarterfinals or better in 2023 with Savannah Christian, which made the 3A finals, Swainsboro, which made the A-DI finals, and Toombs County, which made the 2A quarterfinals. Along with them is Savannah Country Day, which had the best offensive season in school history in 2023 and made the first round of the playoffs. The region has some of the top talent in the state, including Savannah Christian 5-star defensive lineman Elijah Griffin, Toombs County 4-star athlete Lagonza Hayward Jr., and Savannah Christian 3-star tight end Logan Brooking.

Region 8 is home to three teams that made the quarterfinals in 2023 with Commerce, Elbert County, and Rabun County. Alongside them is perennial powerhouse Athens Christian and a Providence Christian team that is coming off its first winning season, going 8-3 and making the playoffs for the first time. The region is home to a few D1 prospects including Rabun County quarterback Ty Truelove and Commerce running back Jaiden Daniels.

Class A-DII has one region that looks to be better than the rest. Region 7 has both the defending champions Bowdon and the team that lost to them in the championship game, Manchester. Along with them is Trion, which went into last year’s playoffs undefeated and ranked No. 2 before losing in the second round of the 2A playoffs. The region is home to some elite players including Manchester 5-star defensive lineman Justus Terry and Bowdon 4-star athlete Kaden Prothro.

While each season of Georgia high school football is guaranteed to offer fans some of the best football that is being played throughout the nation, this upcoming season’s competitive landscape may produce one of the most prolific seasons yet.

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