Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for your readership and your many comments that I receive. After 16 years I’ve learned my audience and strive to keep you informed.
I firmly believe that anything written in any newspaper should be the truth and the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has made that difficult lately. I depend solely on the minutes of their meetings for my facts and their recent meetings have changed the facts regarding reclassification fast enough to make your head spin. If I’m still writing in this space in two years I will wait until the process finishes instead of trying to give you a scoop.
Two weeks ago, I reported to you that Thomson High would be in Class AAA for the next two school years with the caveat that geographic isolation or some other loophole could change that. After two GHSA reclassification committee meetings, Thomson has held firm in Class AAA, but two schools previously assigned to Class AAAA have been put back into the region with Thomson. Also, one AAA school, Westside, has been allowed to play in Class AA.
I told you last week that ARC won their appeal to drop to Class AAA and now Burke County has won an appeal based on geographic isolation to drop into Class AAA. Burke County had been placed into a AAAA region with four Savannah schools and did not want the 200-plus mile round trip for region contests. I don’t blame them for that, but they were going to be the largest school in that region. Now they’ll be the largest school in new Region 4-AAA by over 100 students. Their 1,230 students trump Harlem’s 1,119.
The new reclassification plan won’t be official until the full executive committee approves it and I won’t write about it again until then, but as of now, Thomson will be joined by Burke County, Cross Creek, Harlem, Hephzibah, Morgan County and ARC in Region 4-AAA for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. Playing down in class was something unheard of before the GHSA expanded to seven classification groupings, but Burke and ARC will.
Perhaps Burke and Thomson are destined to be region partners regardless of their enrollments. They are in the only two single high school systems of an intermediate size in the CSRA and are demographically similar. They have developed a healthy rivalry over the years and would likely play each other even if they weren’t in the same region. There’s no point in whining about Burke’s 223 student advantage over THS. It is what it is.
The ages-old system of placing schools in regions has become obsolete for rural and South Georgia schools. With seven classes, regions have become too spread out and the regions are too small. Seventeen of the 64 regions have six or fewer schools in the new reclassification. Class A is loaded with non-football playing schools.
Eliminating regions and putting every team in a playoff bracket based on school size or classification might work. Playoffs are now so watered down almost everyone gets in anyway. You can bet that out-of-the-box idea will never fly in the GHSA. The member schools’ leaders are still stuck on 100 year-old solutions to a modern-day problem. That’s why I’ve had to retell this story three times, but that’s what I’m here for.