The Georgia High School Association’s reclassification committee met Tuesday to hear lateral appeals for the upcoming realignment, and one of the committee’s decisions was to approve or deny Whitefield’s move from Region 5A to 6A, keeping the school with county rivals Mount Paran Christian, North Cobb Christian and Walker.
Whitefield’s request for the lateral transfer was accepted, leaving the administration in a very positive mood.
“We’re excited about it. We feel like we are where we belong,” said athletic director Lynn Dupree, who drove to GHSA headquarters in Thomaston to speak on the school’s behalf. “As I shared during my appeal to the committee, I don’t think we were moving back to a place, I think we’re just going where we should have been to begin with. I’m glad they agreed after their vote. We feel like it’s a great fit for us.”
Whitefield may have been helped by Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy’s request to move from Region 6A to 5A, which was also granted.
In essence, the two schools swapped places.
“I’m sure it helped some,” Dupree said. “They’re a school that plays basketball predominantly, and they’ll add to Region 5A from a competition standpoint. Beyond that, they’re a track and volleyball school, especially on the girls’ side. I know Region 5A was really hoping to keep a football school, and they’d really like to keep more than one.”
Dupree was ready for whatever decision the GHSA decided upon.
“We had two (football) schedules in place,” he said. “One based on staying in 5A and another one if we go back to 6A. We tried to do our homework both ways to look out for what we need to do. We’re looking forward to putting those schedules together now.”
Whitefield’s addition to Region 6A does still pose some issues. The 16-team region is divided into two eight-team subregions, but only four schools in one subregion will play a region football schedule, as opposed to seven in the other subregion.
“There isn’t an equal five-on-five on both sides when meeting with the Region 6A schools,” Dupree said. “Us coming in makes 11 football schools. Now, how do we handle the football region? We need to take care of that. Our schedule will be based a lot on what comes out of that — whether we subdivide or try to play a full region schedule.”
The GHSA denied Milton’s request to transfer from Region 5AAAAAA to 6AAAAAA, leaving it with its rivals in east Cobb and Cherokee counties, and making it easier for the other schools to maintain their current schedules.
“Initially, when the new region came out, Roswell and Milton wanted to realign with their other north Fulton schools in 6AAAAAA,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “Roswell dropped out, but Milton kept going with its request. However, neither school was confident that it would work because it would create too much of a domino effect with other regions.
“Region 6AAAAAA already had 10 teams, so moving them, or even one of them, would have created an imbalance. We’re relieved the GHSA didn’t allow the move, but we’re not shocked the region stayed the way it was.”
The GHSA also granted North Atlanta’s move from Region 6AAAAA to 7AAAAA, causing problems for Kell and Sprayberry, which already had their football schedules put together.
“We’re back to the drawing board,” Kell coach Derek Cook said. “We had our schedule done, but now we have to meet again as a region and figure things out.”
The addition of North Atlanta allows Region 7AAAAA to have two seven-team subregions, instead of two imbalanced subregions.
Football coaches will meet today at River Ridge High School in Woodstock to determine how many crossover games there will be.
“It will either be zero, one or two,” Cook said. “By rule, we have to play at least seven region games, so each team in the subregion has six games, and then there’s the play-in game at the end of the season for seven.
“Once the crossover vote is settled, everything else should fall into place. I’m hoping it’s just one crossover game and then we can have two non-region games. Picking up games at this point will be difficult.”
Kell is already scheduled to face Carrollton on Aug. 22 in the Corky Kell Classic.
The GHSA executive committee will hear final appeals and ratify the reclassification plan on Jan. 14.
“The rat race will definitely pick up now with some clarity at what’s going on,” Dupree said. “The crazy thing is, by rule, it’s not a ratified and done deal until Jan. 14. Between now and then, there’s an appeals process and all kinds of things that could possible happen. We won’t really be locked in until that 14th date, but (our region will try) to meet as soon as we can and talk to the schools and see what their feelings are and get things moving and completed football-wise.”