As Statesboro continues to grow, its athletic teams are about to take a step up in the Georgia High School Association landscape.
Earlier this month, official enrollment numbers came in for all high schools in the state. These enrollments will be the main factor in determining which of the six classifications each school will compete in during the 2014-16 school years.
With 1,491 students counted — about 100 more than the count from two years ago — Statesboro will bump up into Class AAAAA for the first time in school history. The Blue Devils have competed in Class AAAA since 2000.
Region realignments and the addition of a sixth classification to begin the 2012-13 school year left Statesboro as one of the largest schools in Class AAAA. With the boost in enrollment, the Devils now fit into Georgia’s second-largest classification, grouping schools with enrollments between 1,400 and 1,799.
“We knew that we had grown a little bit,” SHS athletics director Dr. Ken Lecain said. “We thought it might be close between Class AAAA and Class AAAAA. As it turns out, we’re about 15 up on the list, so we’re going to be up in that next classification.”
Statesboro will be changing levels, but most of the scenery should remain familiar. Regions won’t be made permanent until January, but a look around the new Class AAAAA finds many teams that the Devils have called a region rival previously.
South Effingham has been in Statesboro’s region for the last five seasons and is also bumping up a classification. Former region foes Ware County, Brunswick, and Glynn Academy all moved to Class AAAAA two years ago and will be waiting for Statesboro when it arrives.
Up the road, Augusta area teams Greenbrier, Lakeside and Grovetown will also join Statesboro.
Depending on appeals – which are due to the GHSA by Dec. 2 – several other familiar schools could make their way into Class AAAAA. Wayne County is currently one of the largest schools in Class AAAA, but might choose to play up. Both Effingham County and Richmond Hill are Class AAAAAA schools, but may be allowed to play down since there are no other schools from that classification in the immediate area.
“As an athletic director, I’m fine being in a region with any of these schools,” Lecain said. “It’s good competition across the board. All of those schools are also good about safety. When you’ve got hundreds of athletes and band members and cheerleaders running around, that’s an important thing to consider.”
After all teams in all classifications are locked in, the GHSA Reclassification Committee will place schools into one of eight regions per classification. Appeals to move to a different region will then be considered, with the Executive Committee scheduled to ratify all new regions Jan. 14 in Macon.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.