The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has reclassified their participating schools, as they do every two years. In 2016 the GHSA will add a new seventh classification which they call the “Big 44.” This classification will be made up of the 44 biggest schools in the state, with Mill Creek High School leading the way with 3,998 students.
The GHSA also has added a rule that will bump up schools which have three percent of their student body living outside of their district. This rule mainly affects private schools which play in the GHSA, but it also affects some public schools, the most well known being Buford. As for Upson Lee, the Knights will remain in class AAAA, and with 1,314 students, they will be the tenth biggest school in the classification.
“We are happy to stay put where we are,” Upson Lee Athletic Director Stephen Boyd said. “We are very familiar with the teams that are going to be in class 4A with us, and have competed with them for years. I think it gives us an advantage, because had we been bumped up to 5A, we would be playing against some schools that have 300 more students. We at Upson Lee feel this was a fair decision, and we look forward to competing in which ever region we are placed.”
Now that the reclassification has taken place, the executive board of the GHSA will place teams in their new regions in early December. Upson Lee has had the opportunity to experience a lot of change when it comes to new regions, as they have been placed in a different region each of the last three cycles (six years).
One thing is for sure when it comes to teams from the current Region 2 in which Upson Lee participates – Veterans High School will be moving up to class 5A. One may think that the GHSA could just add another near by school to replace Veterans, leave the region with six teams, or adjust the region by moving more teams in or out.
Look for Mary Persons, Howard, and Perry to remain in the region, while the other schools are hit or miss. The board may decide to move West Laurens or Baldwin, which are on the outskirts of the Bibb County area, which seems to be the focal point of the region. Or, they could move Upson Lee, which is the furthest school west in the region. Then again, the GHSA has paired some off teams in the past. For instance, Upson Lee used to be in Region 1, with teams such as Bainbridge, Thomas County Central, and Americus-Sumter, while Pike County, which is in a bordering county, was not in Upson Lee’s region. Pike County will also stay in AAAA, making them the smallest school (that did not get bumped up) in class AAAA, and could possibly be moved in to replace Veterans.
Schools also can choose to move up to a higher classification. These school usually include smaller schools in bigger cities, that wish to play the bigger schools around them to save on travel costs. Those schools have until Nov. 30 to notify to the GHSA.
Below are the schools which will participate in class AAAA, and some other schools around the area and their classifications.
New class AAAA (1,341-1,127)
Richmond Academy- 1,339
Heritage, Catoosa- 1,328
Northwest, Whitfield- 1,327
North Clayton- 1,320
Upson Lee- 1,314
Druid Hills- 1,279
Sandy Creek- 1,239
Southwest, Dekalb- 1,230
Cross Creek- 1,216
Mary Persons- 1,214
West Laurens- 1,210
North Oconee- 1,186
Burke County- 1,162
Stephens County- 1,158
White County- 1,149
West Hall- 1,141
Oconee County- 1,134
East Hall- 1,130
Pike County- 1,127
(Bumped up to AAAA due to out of district students)
Woodward Academy- 1,096
St. Pius X- 1,076
Blessed Trinity- 978
Riverside Military- 888
Other area schools
Big 44 (3,398-2,092) None
Class 6A (2,076-1,679)
Drew, Mundy’s Mill, Northgate, Houston County, Lovejoy, NS-Warner Robins, Jonesboro
Class 5A (1,673-1,345)
Harris County, McIntosh, Jones County, Mt. Zion, Ola, Warner Robins, Veterans, Dutchtown, Union Grove, Stockbridge, Carrollton, Whitewater, Walnut Grove, Locust Grove, Griffin, Starr’s Mill, Eastside, Eagle’s Landing, Fayette County, NS-Columbus
Class 4A (1,341-1,127)
Troup, North Clayton, Perry, Upson Lee, LaGrange, Americus-Sumter, Howard, Hardaway, Columbus, Baldwin, Spalding, Sandy Creek, Mary Persons, West Laurens, Carver-Columbus, Hampton, Luella, Pike County
Class 3A (1,115-875)
Central-Macon, Westside-Macon, Rutland, Henry County, Jackson (Butts Co.), Peach County
Class 2A (869-521)
SW Macon, Spencer, Callaway, Jordan, Lamar County, NE Macon, Heard County
Class A (520-23)
Crawford County, Macon County, Manchester, Taylor County, Schley County, FPD, Brookstone, Stratford, Greenville, Pacelli, Central-Talbotton
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.