How reclassification energizes competition

Photo by Rob Saye

Prior to the 2012-13 school year, the GHSA expanded to a sixth classification for the first time in its history while also splitting Class A into separate private and public postseasons. This growth introduced a new era within the Georgia high school football landscape. In the first two years under the newly-formed system we saw seven of 14 football state champions win titles for the first time in their school’s history. The GHSA had crowned 294 football state champions in its 64 season before the 2012 reclassification and yet half of the champions in the last two seasons had never won the state crown before (Norcross, Gainesville, Jefferson, ELCA, Aquinas, Creekside, Marion County).

Changes create fresh starts for programs and the massive restructuring in 2012 provided every team in the state with a formula to use as motivation entering the new season. An individual team may be driven by a heartbreaking loss that ended the previous season but reclassification has the power to motivate on a state-wide scale. Throughout winter workouts and on into the dog days of summer, every team in the state is impacted in some way.


Before 2012, Camden County was unchallenged in its region play. The Wildcats owned a streak of 94 consecutive region wins entering the newly formed Region 1-AAAAAA. In the final region game of 2012, Colquitt County topped Camden 13-12 and served the Wildcats their first region loss since the 1999 season. Unlike Camden County before 2012, Tucker is a school accustomed to playing in a highly-competitive region. The Tigers were reclassified up to Class AAAAAA for 2014-16 and will ignite a rivalry with Lovejoy. Tucker opens the season in the 2014 Corky Kell Classic against defending Class AAAAAA state champion Norcross before hosting Florida’s 2013 Class AAAA state champion Booker T. Washington the following Saturday (August 30). The biggest test of the season might come later when new region opponent Lovejoy hosts the Tigers on Halloween. Tucker beat Lovejoy 22-7 in the 2011 Class AAAAA state championship game when Class AAAAA was still the highest classification. Lovejoy moved up while Tucker stayed the same and both schools lost in the state championship since the expansion.


There are plenty of storylines to watch for with the 2014-16 changes. Region 1-AAAAAA lost Coffee and Brunswick to Class AAAAA and will add Lee County. Camden County will remain in Region 1 for football only. Region 3 saw movement as Tri-Cities dropped a clas- sification and Campbell, Pebblebrook and Westlake moved in from their current places. Region 4 traded those three teams for North Paulding and Region 5 added Pope while Region 6 added Habersham Central and Northview. In Class AAAAA, Region 1 got a make- over with LaGrange, Carver-Columbus and Shaw. Bainbridge and Thomas County Central will compete in Region 1 for football only. Current AAAAAA Coffee and Brunswick are now classed into Region 3 in a sub-region with Camden County, Glynn Academy and Ware County.  Region 6 will divide a total of 17 teams into sub-regions with M.L. King, Miller Grove, Stephenson and Southwest DeKalb all housed in subregion A.

Region 5-AAAA welcomes Woodward Academy, which is moving up from Class AAA. Carrollton, Fayette County, Sandy Creek, Troup, Whitewater and Woodward Academy comprise a solid Region 5. St. Pius X has a new Class AAAA home and will be in Region 6 with long-time rival Marist and the pair are joined by Arabia Mountain, Chamblee, Columbia, Cross Keys, Grady, Lithonia, Redan and Stone Mountain. Region 7 welcomes newcomer (from Class AAA) Cartersville in a field with Gilmer, Heritage-Catoosa, Lafayette, Northwest Whitfield, Pickens, Ridgeland and Southeast Whitfield. Buford will be in a 10-team Region 8 with Chestatee, Johnson- Gainesville, Madison County, Monroe Area, North Hall, North Oconee, Stephens County, Walnut Grove and White County. Calhoun, Jefferson and Westminster are notable schools moving up to Class AAA in 2014. Reclassification will impact every sport but football will give the first-hand look this fall.

Tags: , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply