The new classification divisions were posted Monday following the Georgia High School Association’s meeting.
Pope is joining fellow east Cobb schools Lassiter, Walton and Wheeler in Class AAAAAA and will likely be in the same region as the three schools for the first time since the 2009-10 school year when AAAAA was the state’s highest classification.
It will be a bigger change for Osborne, which hasn’t been in the top classification since 2005-06, when it was in the same region with all of west Cobb’s biggest schools. After dropping a class because of lower student population numbers, Osborne, along with Pope, Kell and Sprayberry, moved up to AAAAA last season when AAAAAA was formed.
Pope now has the third lowest student population in AAAAAA with 1,828 students. The AAAAAA cutoff number is 1,800 and only Langston Hughes and Lee County are lower with 1,808 and 1,802 students, respectively.
“We were on the cusp,” Pope athletic director Josh Mathews said. “We knew we were right on the line. We did appeal our count and our appeal was denied.”
Osborne numbers are higher than Pope with 1,984 students, which made appealing the move a lesser option. Osborne athletic director Brandon Mann said the bump in student population had much to do with a huge freshman class, which will have up to 650 students.
“I don’t think our numbers will allow us to make any sort of appeal at this point,” Mann said. “We’re trying to go into it with a positive mind set and will do what we can to be competitive.”
Moving up a class will be a change for Pope, which has had the most success in wrestling, baseball and volleyball since moving down three years ago.
The Greyhounds won three straight state titles in wrestling. They’ve also won back-to-back volleyball titles in 2010 and 2011 and won in 2009 when AAAAA was the state’s biggest classification. Pope baseball also won state in 2009 before moving down and won again last season. Pope also notched a state title in boys tennis in 2011.
After struggling in football for most of its AAAAA years before moving down, the Greyhounds made the playoffs for three straight years, including winning a region title in 2011, before coming up short this year.
Now that the Greyhounds are moving up, they still expect to be competitive in many of its sports.
“Transitioning back to the big class, it does cause anxiety, nervousness and displeasure,” Mathews said. “We’ll chew on it and deal with it. We have to finish out the school year and then we figure out how to proceed and compete at the next level.”
Osborne will likely have a more difficult time with the transition. Only the girls basketball and boys soccer programs made the state playoffs last year in Class AAAAA. Now the Cardinals will move up to a class where competition is even more intense.
Osborne hasn’t had a winning season in football since 1994 when the Cardinals compiled a 9-2 record, and hasn’t won more than three games in a season since.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us,” Mann said. “We definitely have our hands full I can tell you that. We’re trying to go into it with a positive mindset and do what we can to be competitive.”
The remaining Cobb schools are staying put in their respective classifications.
Allatoona is now the third biggest school in AAAAA with 1,790 students behind Winder-Barrow (1,795) and Forsyth Central (1,791). Kell is among the bottom half with 1,538.
North Cobb is currently the largest Cobb Class AAAAAA school, 11th overall, with 2,782 students, and Walton is right behind the Warriors at 2,732. Campbell is the third biggest Cobb school with 2,394.