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Snug fit suits many state high schools this reclassification
Baggy pants are a trend for many high school students, and their principals and athletic directors have not taken the same lesson in reclassification. After many schools have chosen to play in the GHSA above their numbers in high classification, several of them have decided to go for a fit closer to their size.
Many schools have chosen to not move up in the reclassification, which takes effect for the 2000-01 school year.
Clarke Central and Marist are two schools who have a history of playing up. Clarke Central has played in the largest classification for several years but will drop to Class AAA. Marist, a private school in Atlanta, has chosen to stay in Class AA even though they have routinely reached the state championship levels of several sports at Class AAA.
Class A will see few changes, with a few schools moving up and down.
Region 8-A, which includes Jefferson, Commerce and Banks County, will remain virtually unchanged, with the biggest difference being Union County's move to AA.
Three Springs School and John Quincy Adams are no longer competing in the GHSA, which means 8-A's total of 16 schools is four less than the last time the association reclassified its members.
The move will leave Region 8-A with 10 schools who play football, alleviating the need for subregions in the sport. It will also allow for a full region schedule. Under the current classification, Region 8-A teams do not play two teams in the region.
When Jackson County moved up to Class AAA last year, coaches at the school knew the Region 8-AAA schools were a talent-rich group.
When the Georgia High School Association released the 2000 proposed region alignment last week, the coaches now see that Region 8-AAA may have become the most athletically talented region in the state.
Schools have 30 days to request a region move, though most of those requests are not granted by the GHSA. After those requests are heard, the association's Executive Committee will give the alignment final approval at a September meeting.
Fourteen schools are assigned to 8-AAA in the proposed alignment. The most notable of those are Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals, both of which are located in Athens and have been competing in Class AAAA for years. Clarke has been AAA-sized for a while, but has chosen to play in the state's largest classification. Requests to move up in class have already been granted, so last week's list of proposed regions that included both Athens schools means neither requested a move.
It also means region championships will be harder to come by, as both schools have a history of success in nearly every sport.
As expected, current 8-AAA member Newton was moved to 6-AAA. That move, combined with Dacula and North Gwinnett moving up to AAAA, means three current members will not return for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 school years.
But six schools, including Clarke and Cedar, are slated to move into 8-AAA, upping the current number of 11 to 14. The only AAA region with more schools is Region 3, which sports 15.
However, one of those 15, Davidson Fine Arts, competes only in literary competitions, while all 14 in Regions 7 and 8 offer a full slate of sports. Region 1-AAA has just seven schools, while the other four have 10 or 11.
Elbert County will return to the new 8-AAA. Elbert has toggled between AA and AAA for the entire decade, moving up or down each of the past four classifications.
Winder-Barrow has followed the same path, except between AAAA and AAA in the past few years. W-BHS finally looked to be safely in the largest class, but Barrow County is planning to open a new school in 2000 that will take almost 600 students from the old facility. The new school, yet to be named, will compete in 8-AA while W-BHS will once again take up residence in 8-AAA.
A familiar face from 8-AA will rejoin Jackson County in 8-AAA. Loganville will move up, as will one unexpected new member, South Forsyth. SFHS has competed in 7-AA recently, and its inclusion in 8-AAA significantly stretches the region from east to west. Elberton and Cumming are about 90 miles apart.
While both schools have declined from their dominating pace of the 1990s, the dream match-up of Washington County and Thomas County Central can happen under the new lines. Washington County, a powerhouse Class AA team this decade, has moved up to Region 3-AAA.
Thomas County Central remains in Region 1-AAA. The two teams combined for nine state championships in the '90s.
·Athens Academy and Oglethorpe County are again included in 7-A. Both schools spent some time in 8-A before being moved last year. Athens' Prince Avenue Christian, a new GHSA member, is also among the 12 7-A schools.
·The 1997 football Class A champion Manchester returns to Class A after a two-year stint in AA.
·The biggest story of this reclassification is several schools' decision to not move up in class. Marist, which has competed successfully in AAA for years, has decided to join its private school rival Westminster in 5-AA. Hancock Central played up to cut down on travel expenses, but decided that enough area schools had moved down to 7-A.
·Two regions stand out as being travel nightmares. Putnam County is moving from Region 3-AA to 8-AA. The school, which is located in Eatonton, will have region opponents as far away as three schools in Gainesville (85 miles) and one in Franklin County (80 miles). If Banks County had moved to Class AA this time, it would most probably have been in Region 8-AA.
A newcomer to 1-AAAA will also log some heavy travel mileage. Lee County has competed in 1-AAA with nearby Albany schools for a while, but an exploding population has forced the Leesburg school into the toughest football region in the state. The region can't subdivide because it has just eight schools, which means Lee County will drive an average of 78 miles for every region game that it plays. The closest opponent is Colquitt County (45 miles away), and Ware County is the furthest (121 miles away).
·One of the biggest fans of the reclassifications has to be Region 6-AAAA. After several teams in the north Fulton County area were split up the last time lines were drawn, a lawsuit against the GHSA followed to put the group back together.
Although the North Fulton group lost that battle, they have won the war by being rejoined. Under the current lines, some schools just miles apart from former region foes were forced to face rush hour traffic to travel into Atlanta for games.

New regions best thing to talk on
Drew Brantley
In the world of Georgia high school sports, there is little more exciting than reclassification years. Some schools move up or down a class. New schools are created, and some schools are disbanded or consolidated. It is a rebirth that occurs every two years.
This is the year and now is the time. While things are not completely final, the proposed region alignments are in but things are far from final.
Maybe it's too soon to be talking about what will happen in the season after the upcoming school year, which is still about two months ago, but I don't think so.
I have heard the old college football joke that there are three seasons in the south: spring, football and recruiting. In high school sports, there are really three things to talk about: what we did, what we're doing and what we're gonna do.
Right now, football teams are working out in the weight room and running to get in shape.
Essential though that may be for the team, it is not that exciting to watch. So with nothing left to talk about new.
So with that in mind, I will mention the things about the new reclassification that are interesting to me.
There are 61 schools in the north half of Class A. There are 46 schools in the south portion.
However, in football, the south has 42 teams that compete in the sport, while the north only has 36. The north part of Class A has 33 private schools, some who play football and some who don't. The south has five private schools who all play football
Clarke Central's decision to stay in Class AAA rather than move back up to Region 8-AAAA is at the top of the list.
Class AAAA schools are getting bigger every day. Clarke Central realized that there comes a time to give in to playing schools two and three times your size.
I don't think that the brand of football will suffer too much for Clarke Central in dropping down.
With Stephens County, Oconee County and Central Gwinnett already in the region, Cedar Shoals, Loganville, South Forsyth, and Winder-Barrow will make the league a formidable one to say the least
I do feel sorry for Lee County. The county has prospered with more people, but that has forced them into Class AAAA and into the region with Valdosta, Lowndes County, Colquitt, Coffee, Bainbridge, Ware County and Tift County. Woe to the Trojans.
This is not to say that their current region is easy with the likes of Thomas County Central and Cairo for football and the Albany teams for basketball. But that bunch of Class AAAA teams looms as a tough bunch
It would be of little concern to any of you, but East Laurens will play Dublin in the year 2000 in football as they will be in Region 3-AA.
I worked for the paper in Dublin, and know that this is a big event. That doesn't seem like much, considering the two schools are in the same county and have less than 10 miles between their campuses.
However, the two schools have no played each other in football since the 1970s.
For the first time in a while, the two schools have similar enrollments. East Laurens had bounced back and forth between Class A and AA, while Dublin moved from AAA to AA.
They hit right for the first time in several years to make the football match-up work.
Drew Brantley is the sports editor for The Commerce News and The Banks County News. Email Drew Brantley:

Thanks for 'knowing my name'
Bert Brantley
One of the few things high school seniors accomplish during the last few weeks of school is choosing a class song.
During my senior year, we had an awful time agreeing on a song that would wrap up our feelings on four years of the highs and lows of high school life.
It was the spring of 1992, and a group called Boyz II Men had just released a song called "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye." Most of the my 401 fellow graduates seemed to believe that song expressed the sad emotions of telling some of your best friends that you will never see them again.
Not me.
I didn't want a slow, sad song to be the last mark we left. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't pushing for Kool & The Gang's "Celebration." But I did think we had accomplished a lot in four years, and I wanted to remember the good times rather than have everybody crying at the end.
So I went to work, trying to come up with an idea for a song. The one thing our class had been told for four years was that we got along better than most groups.
Our athletic teams were very successful (thanks mostly to my class), as were band, drama and every other activity offered. And even though we had all these different things going on, we were still a tight-knit group.
Our counselor, Mrs. Weiffenbach, even said to me once: "I'm amazed that it seems like everybody knows each other's names."
That was the hook I needed that morning when I stood in front of my classmates and nominated this for our class song:
"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got,
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away.
Sometimes you want to go, Where everybody knows your name, And they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see, troubles are all the same.
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.
You wanna go where people know people are all the same.
You wanna go where everybody knows your name."
The theme song from the sit-com Cheers was an immediate hit with my classmates, as the long-running show had just announced it was ending.
As I sit here now, writing my last column as sports editor of The Jackson Herald, many of the same emotions I felt at the end of high school are creeping back. While I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead, I am also saddened by what I am leaving behind.
But, instead of dwelling on the negative, I choose to remember the good times I have had here, doing my "dream job" for the past 18 months.
So to all my co-workers, the Jefferson and Jackson County players and coaches, and everybody else I ran into, you have made this time of my life unforgettable.
Oh yeah, and to everybody, thanks for "knowing my name."
Bert Brantley was the sports editor for The Jackson Herald from February 4, 1998, to June 30, 1999.
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