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Changes in store for local schools as GHSA realigns

The Georgia High School Association announced reclassification last week, and it could see many area teams affected in many ways.

For the Statesboro Blue Devils, even though they are still the size of an average 5-A school the Blue Devils are opting to move up to 6-A. The Blue Devils officially informed the GHSA of their desire to move up Monday afternoon.

“Several of the south Georgia AAAAA schools have moved to different classifications,” said Statesboro principal Chad Prosser. “The other "south" Georgia schools in AAAAA are Wayne County (72 miles), Ware County (104 miles) and Coffee County (107 miles).  There are other projections that have Greenbrier (93 miles), Westover (195 miles), Veterans (124 miles) and Jones County (141 miles) in a region with us. Those are just projections from people who may or may not know, but there are very few "south" Georgia schools who fall in AAAAA.” 

“The schools that are close to us that are currently projected to be AAAAAA schools are Effingham County (31 miles), South Effingham (37 miles), Bradwell (51 miles). Brunswick (110 miles) and Glynn Academy (113 miles),” Prosser said. “From a travel standpoint, I felt requesting to move up to AAAAAA is a no-brainer.  It would lessen travel and allow for students to stay in class longer. From a competitive standpoint, based off of feedback from our staff most of our coaches do not see a large difference between the two classifications.”

“It’s kind of a risk in some ways because you don’t really know what other schools are going to do,” said Statesboro football coach Jeff Kaiser. “The possibility of having to travel so much as opposed to knowing the schools in the 6-A region I feel we are making the right call. We appreciate the communication with our administration in this matter and the fact that all coaches had input into the decision.”

As for the Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jackets the initial reclassification had the Jackets moving up from AAA to AAAA. The Jackets were just over the limit of AAA numbers. The largest current AAA school is Salem at 1,191. Southeast Bulloch is listed at 1,200, but co-athletic director Aimee Civalier says the Jackets are petitioning to remain in AAA.

“The GHSA counted 22 of our Pre-K students with our high school numbers,” Civalier said. “The difference in the largest AAA and the smallest AAAA school is only nine. We feel like if you subtract our Pre-K numbers that would put us back in AAA.”

As far as where that would put the Yellow Jackets as far as a region goes, that remains a bit of a mystery. Beach and Islands are both currently classified up to AAAA, while Savannah High is listed as one of the smaller schools in AA which puts the current Region 3-AAA up in the air.

“It looks like there are a couple different regions they could put us if we stay in AAA,” Civalier said. “They could put us in Region-2 with Tattnall and Appling County, or keep us in the region we are currently in minus the teams that may be moving up or down due to reclassification.”

This week schools will next find out whether or not their classification appeals are upheld or not. Following that the GHSA will inform schools of the region they are to play in, and appeals can be made following that as to where the schools will play.

As for the Portal Panthers, reclassification comes as a relief in many ways. The GHSA is doing away with the power poll rankings and will go strictly with region records to determine the postseason. Public and Private schools will now be separated. The new region 3-A should be Jenkins, Claxton, Metter, Portal, ECI and possibly McIntosh County Academy.

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