Paulding high school teams in football and other sports could face some tough going next season when they begin competing in new regions in August.
The Georgia High School Association recently placed its member schools into regions for most sports in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years.
It followed the GHSA moving many schools into new classifications based on increases or decreases in their enrollments in recent years.
The GHSA divides its schools into seven classifications for sports based on enrollment, ranging from the largest schools in Class 7-A to the smallest in 1-A.
Hiram and North Paulding will be the lone Paulding high schools in their new regions, while the remaining three will be members of the same new region.
South Paulding will be joined by East Paulding and Paulding County High in a new region after the Raiders and Patriots moved up to Class 6A.
Jason Freeman, who is Paulding County School District’s athletic director, said there are “always going to be pros and cons” to redistricting for high school sports.
“(GHSA director Robin) Hines said some folks will be really happy and some folks really unhappy,” he said.
Freeman said the only question about this year’s Paulding reclassification was if Hiram would move up to Class 6A — which was not expected because it was not among 5A schools with the highest enrollments.
The changes for Paulding schools’ athletes for 2020-2021 include:
East Paulding and Paulding County High joining South Paulding♦ in a new Region 5-6A along with state football powers Carrollton, Dalton and Rome.
Others in the new region will include regular football playoff contenders Alexander and Douglas County High.
In addition, Alexander, Carrollton and Douglas County High have boys basketball teams ranked in the top 10 in Georgia this season.
The Spartans will move from its current region that includes schools from Atlanta, south Fulton County and Newnan.
North Paulding♦ will remain in the highest class, 7A, and be the lone Paulding school in a new Region 3-7A also featuring Marietta and Cobb County schools Harrison, Hillgrove, North Cobb and Walton.
Marietta this season has advanced to the semifinals of the GHSA’s Class 7-A football playoffs. Harrison is undefeated this season and in the semifinals of the Class 6-A playoffs.
Hillgrove, North Cobb and Walton also earned spots in this year’s football playoffs.
Harrison and Walton also field some of the top volleyball teams in the state, among other sports.
Hiram♦ remained in Class 5A and became the lone Paulding school in a new region featuring traditional football powers Blessed Trinity, Cartersville and Calhoun.
Blessed Trinity, Cartersville and Calhoun have won at least two state football titles apiece in lower classes since 2012. Blessed Trinity has advanced to this year’s football semifinals in Class 4-A.
Blessed Trinity and Calhoun also are top volleyball teams in Georgia.
Others in Region 7-5A will include Bartow County schools Cass and Woodland, and Johns Creek school Northview which earned a spot in this year’s Class 6-A football playoffs.
Freeman noted some Paulding teams will have longer distances to travel to away games during the week.
Paulding County, East Paulding and South Paulding teams in sports like softball and volleyball will be traveling a longer distance to travel to Dalton, Rome or Johns Creek, he said.
That could prove a logistical challenge as they will be forced to wait for bus transportation at a time of day when school is ending, he said.
However, the school board approved funding in the district’s budget to help pay for outside transportation if needed in such instances, Freeman said.
In addition, some schools will be facing much stiffer competition in their new regions, he said.
North Paulding had one of the top baseball teams in the state last season but was in a region that included McEachern, which won a total of three games last season.
The Wolfpack have been placed in a region with Harrison, Hillgrove and Walton which are ranked in the top 25 in all classes in Georgia.
Hiram, meanwhile, will face two other perennial baseball powers in Blessed Trinity and Cartersville.
“Really, across the board, it’s going to super competitive,” Freeman said.
The new regions include: