Kell got its wish Tuesday.
The school's request to move to Class AAAAAA was approved by the Georgia High School Association's reclassification committee, giving the Longhorns the chance to rekindle some previous Cobb County rivalries, while also making some new ones.
In addition the approving Kell's move, the GHSA also released its tentative new regions for the 2020-22 school years.
Kell will be part of a nine-team all-Cobb County Region 6AAAAAA also set to include Allatoona, Osborne, Pope, South Cobb, Sprayberry and the three local schools dropping down from Class AAAAAAA -- Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter and Wheeler.
It will be the first time since 2009 that the Longhorns and their closest neighbor, Lassiter, will be in the same region.
Kell athletic director Richard Norman said the opportunity to play in an all-Cobb region -- especially with the likes of Lassiter, Sprayberry and Pope -- will help rebuild a sense of community that has been missing since the Longhorns dropped to Class AAAAA.
Kell and Lassiter, two neighboring schools whose campuses are separated by only about 5 miles, have not been in the same region since the 2009-10 school year.
"I was glad to see (the new region)," Norman said. "We'd get to see one or two of our Cobb rivals a year (as it stands), but it just wasn't the same."
Norman also said the reduced travel and time out of the classroom for the athletes will be a big benefit everyone in the region. Allatoona, Sprayberry, South Cobb and Osborne no longer have to travel to Dalton during the regular season, Kell will not have to travel to Carrollton and Rome, and Pope will not have to go across the metro area to Johns Creek, Dunwoody and North Atlanta.
"It's a good day," Pope athletic director Josh Mathews said. "I think its good for Cobb County."
Mathews said, once the new classifications came out last week, athletic directors in the area began trying to map things out as to which schools might end up where. In the end, he agreed with Norman and said the potential new all-Cobb region will be a plus for the Cobb communities.
"I think it will be great for all our athletes," Mathews said. "They will all get to play the kids they grew up playing."
Mathews also said, with the amount of talent Cobb County has in all sports, the teams that come out of the new region and advance to the state playoffs will be tested and should be contenders for the state titles.
"I really like it. It makes it tough in all sports," Mathews said. "But there is nowhere to hide in Class AAAAAA. I think its the toughest classification in the state."
Realignment will also mean that teams from the current Region 6AAAAAA will lose their connection with their rivals from Cherokee County. Creekview, River Ridge and Sequoyah will now be part of the new Region 7AAAAAA with Cambridge, Centennial, Chattahoochee, Riverwood and Johns Creek from north Fulton County.
In Class AAAAAAA, the shuffle will see McEachern being moved to Region 2AAAAAAA, where it will tangle with Campbell, East Coweta, Newnan and Pebblebrook.
McEachern getting shipped south was one of the biggest surprises in the redesigned regions. Athletic director Andy Dorsey said there will be a lot of discussions over the next week before it is determined if the school files an appeal for a lateral move with the GHSA.
"A big shock to us as well," Dorsey said. "It wasn't anything that we expected."
Dorsey said the school likes being part of the current region setup, but he said it would be premature as to whether it will appeal the decision and request a lateral move.
One advantage McEachern may have with staying in the new region would be football scheduling. The local Class AAAAAAA programs all have to find five non-region games a season, and McEachern would likely try to keep Hillgrove, Marietta and North Cobb on its schedule.
Taking McEachern's place in Region 3AAAAAAA will be Walton, the only remaining east Cobb school in the highest classification. The Raiders will be joined in the new-look region by Harrison, which moved up for the next cycle, as well as Hillgrove, Marietta, North Cobb and North Paulding.
Like Class AAAAAA, there will no longer be a shared Class AAAAAA region with Cobb and Cherokee teams. Cherokee, Etowah and Woodstock will join north Fulton County foes Alpharetta, Milton and Roswell.
The local schools were also bounced around a little bit in Class A, which will be split into eight separate regions each for private and public schools.
Whitefield Academy is set to be shipped south in a new Region 2A that would include Eagle's Landing Christian, Landmark Christian and Our Lady of Mercy.
Mount Paran Christian, North Cobb Christian and Walker are expected to be grouped with Darlington and Christian Heritage in the new Region 7A.
Darlington and Christian Heritage had requested to play up in Class AA, but the reclassification committee unanimously voted down all the Class A teams' requests to play up.
The non-football-playing schools of Class A -- including Mount Bethel Christian, which is currently in Region 6A with its county neighbors -- have yet to be placed in a new region.
The reclassification committee will meet again next Tuesday to hear appeals from schools seeking to make a lateral move to a new region in the same classification. In addition, the committee will hear appeals from any Class A school whose request to move up to Class AA was denied.
|GHSA Region Alignments|
2020-2022 School Years
Region 7A Private