Mount Paran Christian @ North Cobb Christan

Mount Paran Christian's Jack Allen runs the ball against North Cobb Christian last season. Beginning in 2020, the county's private-school programs will be playing in region separate from their public-school counterparts.

The Georgia High School Association voted to further split Class A into public- and private-school regions, and representatives from Cobb County's private schools are not happy about it. 

During the GHSA's executive committee meeting Monday, the committee voted 64-2 in favor of dividing Class A into eight public regions and eight private regions, with each division having its own 32-team playoff bracket.

The changes are set to go into effect for the 2020-21 school year.

To do that, some schools will find themselves in a four-team region where every team will make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Cobb County's five GHSA-affiliated private schools -- Mount Bethel Christian, Mount Paran Christian, North Cobb Christian, Walker and Whitefield Academy -- could be placed in a region with north Fulton County rivals Fellowship Christian, St. Francis, Mount Pisgah Christian and King's Ridge Christian.

Currently, the Cobb County private schools compete in Region 6A with public schools Bowdon, Gordon Lee, Morris Innovative, Mount Zion-Carroll and Trion.

In the end, a 0-10 football team could make the playoffs from a four-team region, while a better team in a larger region would be left out.

"I don't like it," North Cobb Christian football coach Mark Hollars said. "I'm very concerned about that. You could be in a really good region, be 6-4 and finish fifth and not make it. I hope the state looks at that, because power ratings would take care of (those situations).

Basing the postseason qualifiers on power ratings, as it is for most sports currently, will no longer be an option in the future. The executive committee voted 65-1 to eliminate the use of power ratings, which would help teams that may be in an difficult region by taking into account their strength of schedule. 

Hollars can see the issue from both sides.

Earlier in his coaching career, he was the football coach at North Olmsted High School, a public school just outside Cleveland, and was in the same region as national-power private schools St. Ignatius and St. Edwards. 

"I didn't think it was broke," Hollars said of the public-private divide. "I thought it was good playing in the same region and then breaking into public and private for the playoffs."

Also a concern is that a four-team region in football would require seven non-region games to complete the schedule. Baseball teams would need to find as many as 24 non-region games, while basketball teams may need to find as many as 19. Smaller regions could also cause additional travel issues.

In addition, the playoffs would be diluted by having a 32-team brackets in each of the public and private divisions. 

"There are some teams that just don't belong in the playoffs," said one administrator on the condition of anonymity.

Others were also left wondering why the GHSA did not publicly present the results of a survey that was filled out by each school's athletic director. In the survey, it addressed the public-private split, the use of power ratings and the potential of moving back to six classifications.

Schools in larger classifications will also be dealing with some changes.

The executive committee voted unanimously to return to a two-year reclassification beginning with the 2020-21 school year. With it being a change to the GHSA constitution, it will need to be approved again by a second vote held at the fall meeting in August.

The current period of reclassification is every four years, and McEachern athletic director Jimmy Dorsey said committee members realized that it was too long of a period to wait before adjustments were made.

"Because of the growth of some population areas, it seemed too long," said Dorsey, a member of the executive committee. "Not revisiting this every two years, we have schools that have grown where they shouldn't be playing in (their current) classification."

The elimination of power ratings will also affect Class AAAAAAA, which has an at-large team in the state tournaments.

The at-large team was created because of Region 1, a four-team region featuring Colquitt County, Lowndes, Camden County and Tift County. If another school had a better record than the fourth-place team of Region 1, then the power ratings would determine which school would complete the playoff bracket. 

In recent years, the Marietta and Lassiter football teams and Campbell boys basketball team have earned at-large playoff berths. Marietta took advantage of the second chance by advancing to the state quarterfinals in 2017.

"It was felt the power ratings were difficult to decipher," Dorsey said, "and then there were mistakes. One year, people were complaining they went to slow, because it was Wednesday before that team knew who it was going to play on Friday. Then, they tried to hurry up and the wrong team was told they were in. This way, none of this happens."

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