The Georgia High School Association's executive committee voted this week to completely split private and public schools in Class A beginning with the 2020-21 school year, and with it eliminated power ratings to determine seeding for Class A schools or to pick at-large playoff teams in higher classifications.
The vote means Class A will now have eight private school regions and eight public school regions. Playoff teams will be determined the same way across all classifications — the top four teams in each region will earn postseason berths. The current system, which will still be in place this coming season, relies on power ratings to fill playoff brackets after region champions are seeded one through eight.
The ratings are determined with a system that awards points for victories, including bonus points for wins against opponents from higher classifications. Teams are then ranked by those ratings.
The move was well received locally, where northwest Georgia's two Class A public schools, Gordon Lee and Trion, have competed in Region 6-A, a subdivided 19-team league that has 13 private schools. Most of Gordon Lee's and Trion's games each season since the power ratings began have been against private schools they would not compete against in the postseason.
"Our biggest issue of the seven years with power rankings is having to play private schools and it counting against us for a public playoff," said Trion football coach and athletic director Justin Brown, who attended the GHSA meeting as the region representative and is a member of the football subcommittee.
"It's really hurt our seeding because we would, say, finish 7-3 and two of our losses were to private schools, so instead of being in the top five or six, it would drop us down to 12 or 13. It's been that way in multiple sports with us and Gordon Lee. There were several seasons, at least in football, where we had a better chance of winning a state championship than a region championship."
The new regions will be small. Currently there are 120 Class A schools, 90 that play football. Sixty-four of those teams, 32 in public and 32 in private, will make the playoffs. Eliminating the power ratings also means if a region only has four schools in it — across each of the seven classifications — all four schools will automatically make the playoffs.
The GHSA also voted to return to two-year reclassification cycles instead of the current four-year terms and voted down a proposal to let home-schooled students participate in GHSA activities. The ruling body also voted to adopt a new method to account for out-of-zone students in the next reclassification, though the method won't be determined until the fall.
Tuder picks Shorter
Northwest Whitfield junior middle infielder Payton Tuder committed this week to continue her softball career in 2020 at NCAA Division II member Shorter University in Rome, Georgia.
A starter since her freshman year for the strong Bruins program coached by Todd Middleton, she is in her first year with ProStar Fastpitch and bats leadoff for that organization's 18-under team.
"We were thrilled when she joined us in August. She is one of the hardest workers in the program," ProStar's Steve Chattin said. "She is an extremely talented infielder with a very quick release, which will benefit her at the next level. For a petite young lady she possesses true gap-to-gap power."
Chattin also noted Tuder's 3.92 grade point average and praised her thoroughness and patience in the decision process.
She said Shorter was her top choice "for several months," and each of her many "visits, camps and tournaments at numerous schools" pushed her a little more toward coach Danielle Brewer's program.
Spence beats odds
Lookout Valley senior sharpshooter Alex Spence will continue her basketball career at Covenant College.
The 4-foot-10 guard made 240 career 3-pointers for the Lady Yellow Jackets.
"If you work hard enough, you can make anything happen," said Spence, who is also the valedictorian of her class. "I knew my height would be a disadvantage for me, but my dad always told me if I could shoot the 3, somebody will have an interest."
As a part of Spence's offseason routine before her final high school season, she would take 500 shots with a strong focus on work behind the arc. Now she will try to help the Division III program on Lookout Mountain.
"My teammates really did a good job screening for me. At my size you can't stand still and get an open shot," Spence said. "I am excited about the next level to become a better basketball player and grow in my relationship with Christ."