2014-16 GHSA REGION ALIGNMENT
(regions including northwest Georgia schools)
• Allatoona, Cass Dalton, Rome, Woodland (Bartow)
• East Paulding, Hiram, Paulding County, South Paulding, Villa Rica
• Cartersville, Gilmer County, Heritage, LaFayette, Northwest Whitfield, Pickens County, Ridgeland, Southeast Whitfield
• Calhoun, Coahulla Creek, Gordon Central, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Murray County, North Murray, Ringgold, Sonoraville
• Armuchee, Chattooga, Coosa, Dade County, Darlington, Gordon Lee, Model
• Christian Heritage, Excel Christian, Morris Innovative, Mount Paran Christian, Mount Zion (Carroll), North Cobb Christian, Southwest Atlanta Christian, Trion
• Fellowship Christian, Fulton Science Academy, King's Ridge, Mount Pisgah Christian, Pinecrest Academy, St. Francis, Walker
Barring appeal, Georgia high schools have been placed in regions for the 2014-16 academic years. In most cases with northwest Georgia athletic programs, the result is less travel and some new rivals.
Tuesday's alignment announcement by the GHSA was positive news for area schools in AAAA, AAA and AA, where smaller regions will reduce travel and still allow for preferable nonregion contests. In new Region 6-AAA that means an eight-team league consisting of all three Gordon County schools and both Murray County programs for the first time.
"It's going to be good for us," said Calhoun AD Hal Lamb, whose school moved up from Class AA. "We've got some old and new faces with us, and it's going to be exciting moving forward. We've never been in a region with Ringgold, so that's going to be nice. I'm a little disappointed Adairsville is not in there, but hopefully we can pick them up as one of our nonregion games."
Said Ringgold athletic director Robert Akins: "I really like our region, and having the ability to pick up three good gate nonregion games will be a plus. Now, Calhoun makes it tougher, but having them in our region will make our all athletic teams better in the long run."
Region 7-AAAA is nearly identical to its current alignment with Cartersville replacing Dalton and Cass and River Ridge moving out. Region 7-AA includes holdovers Chattooga, Dade County, Coosa, Model and Armuchee and adds current Class A programs Gordon Lee and Darlington.
The largest area region by far is again 6-A where, despite Gordon Lee and Darlington moving out, 15 programs remain, including Trion, Christian Heritage and Dalton's Morris Innovative. There was some talk of several Class A schools moving up, but as Trion AD Justin Brown pointed out, the pros did not outweigh the cons.
"We looked at it, and it just wouldn't be fair to our athletes to compete against Class AA schools," Brown said. "We're accustomed to the travel, and we feel remaining in Class A is in the best interest of our students and community."
The most notable exception to less travel is Dalton, which is being placed in a subdivided 10-school region in Class AAAAA. The Catamounts, as part of Region 5, will join former region programs such as Allatoona, Cass, Rome and Woodland, Bartow and four Paulding County schools. Since the region is subdivided, Dalton will be able to maintain most of its natural northwest Georgia rivalries, according to AD Jeff McKinney.
Schools have until Dec. 13 to appeal to move to another region in their classification.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...