0

Saving on gas and making new rivals

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

Fluctuations in enrollment should lead to more Southern Crescent rivalries and fewer financial strains after the Georgia High School Association released the new region alignments Wednesday.

Appeals will be considered on Dec. 16, and the GHSA's executive committee will officially ratify the new regions in January.

Here's a look at where Southern Crescent teams were placed:

Region 2-AAAAA

From Southern Crescent: Luella.

Everyone else: East Coweta, Langston Hughes, M.L. King, Newnan, Newton, Stephenson, Westlake.

Farthest trip: Luella to Newnan, 59 miles.

What to know: Luella remains as the lone Class AAAAA school in the Southern Crescent, even after losing some enrollment to Locust Grove opening this school year. But the region now becomes one of the state's strongest in football, if not also basketball.

Region 3A-AAAA

From Southern Crescent: Dutchtown, Ola, Union Grove, Woodland.

Everyone else: Alcovy, Jones County.

Farthest trip: Dutchtown to Jones County, 76 miles.

What to know: Union Grove drops from Class AAAAA, Woodland moves up from Class AAA and a Southern Crescent-dominated region emerges. Paired with region 3B-AAAA with schools from Coweta, Fayette, Spalding and Upson counties.

"There's a chance for some really good rivalries to be struck up," Ola athletic director Curt Miller said. "It'll be one of the most competitive regions across the board from A to Z that there is."

Region 4A-AAAA

From Southern Crescent: Jonesboro, Lovejoy, Morrow, Mt. Zion, Mundy's Mill.

Everyone else: None.

Farthest trip: A few miles down the road.

What to know: Clayton County's accreditation fiasco led to a significant loss in enrollment. Thus every team in this region dropped down a classification, including Jonesboro, which has Class AAA enrollment but is choosing to play up.

But that only eases transportation costs and helps foster in-county rivalries, which coaches hope can create more revenue.

That was one of several factors Jonesboro considered when choosing to compete in Class AAAA.

"With the economy the way it is, it's good to play against other county schools," Jonesboro athletic director Dan Maehlman said. "Your crowd will be better playing more local teams. I think it'll be better."

Region 4B-AAAA

From Southern Crescent: Forest Park, North Clayton, Riverdale.

Everyone else: Banneker, Creekside, Tri-Cities.

Farthest trip: Forest Park to Tri-Cities, 18 miles.

What to know: Riverdale drops from Class AAAAA with the opening of Drew. North Clayton is choosing to play up with AAA enrollment numbers. This region will pair with the all-Clayton region 4A-AAAA.

Proximity again played a role in North Clayton's decision to play up. Eagles athletic director Martisse Troup said he and football coach Rodney Hackney evaluated the options and decided to compete with nearby schools in Clayton and South Fulton to increase revenue and build better in-county rivalries.

"Economically, we'll be able to get more revenue with being an all-Clayton region," Troup said.

Region 4-AAA

From Southern Crescent: Drew, Eagle's Landing, Henry County, Locust Grove, Stockbridge.

Everyone else: Eastside, Jackson, Sandy Creek, Spalding.

Farthest trip: Drew to Eastside, 41 miles.

What to know: Southern Crescent teams dominate region 4-AAA, bringing Henry County's oldest schools back together after a brief time apart thanks to Henry County deciding to play up from Class AA.

Region 7B-A

From Southern Crescent: Eagle's Landing Christian, Strong Rock Christian.

Everyone else: Too many.

What to know: The GHSA era begins for Strong Rock Christian, who jumps into ELCA's region, creating a natural rivalry between the Henry private schools. But region 7-A contains 25 schools, the largest region across all classifications, putting into question issues of scheduling and practicality.