Six class sys­tem in­tro­duced

The Covington News - - Football - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

Af­ter a large change in the way the Ge­or­gia High School As­so­ci­a­tion does things, both New­ton and Al­covy will com­pete in the state’s largest clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The Rams and Tigers move up to Class AAAAAA, the state’s new­est clas­si­fi­ca­tion af­ter the GHSA ini­ti­ated a new six-class sys­tem dur­ing the spring.

The GHSA ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee passed the new clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for the state’s more than 400 schools by a vote of 26-24. Prior to this sea­son, the state had used a five-clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for the pre­vi­ous decade.

The six-class plan was voted down in fa­vor of a four class/eight cham­pi­onship plan in March, but talks re­sumed and even­tu­ally led to its pass­ing in May, af­ter the 4/8 plan was de­feated 35-15.

Among many other changes, the new plan lifted New­ton from Re­gion 2-AAAAA to Re­gion 2-AAAAAAA, and Al­covy from Re­gion 3-AAAA to Re­gion 2-AAAAAAA. East­side moves up from Re­gion 4-AAA to Re­gion 8-AAAA and So­cial Circle from 8-A to 8-AA.

Al­covy leaves a re­gion with Jones County, Grif­fin, Union Grove, Dutch- town, Wood­land, and Ola for one with Druid Hills, Love­joy, Morrow, New­ton, Rock­dale and Luella. The Rams come into Re­gion 2-AAAAAA from a re­gion in­clud­ing M.L. King, Stephen­son, East Coweta, New­nan, West­lake, Luella and Langston Hughes.

East­side moves to a re­gion, which in­cluded John­son, Gainesville, Lump­kin County, Madi­son County, Mon­roe Area, Stephens County, Ch­es­ta­tee, Wal­nut Grove and Lanier af­ter com­pet­ing against Sandy Creek, Stock­bridge, Drew, Henry County, Jack­son, Lo­cust Grove, Spald­ing and Ea­gles Land­ing in 2011.

So­cial Circle will have one fa­mil­iar op­po­nent in 2012, tak­ing Riverside Mil­i­tary with it from Re­gion 8-A to Re­gion 8-AA. In 2011, the Redskins com­peted against Prince Av­enue Chris­tian, Ge­orge Wal­ton Academy, Athens Academy, Com­merce, Hebron Chris­tian Academy, Athens Chris­tian, Riverside Mil­i­tary, Lake­view Academy and Towns County. This year, So­cial Circle will be joined by Wash­ing­ton-Wilkes, Riverside Mil­i­tary, Greene County, Jef­fer­son, Oglethorpe County, Rabun County, So­cial Circle and Union County.

Shortly af­ter re­clas­sifi- cation com­mit­tee chair­man and de­signer of the 4/8 plan Earl Etheridge made his pre­sen­ta­tion, it was ev­i­dent the plan had no mo­men­tum. Hunter and sev­eral other ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers ex­pressed their op­po­si­tion to the plan. Soon af­ter, Swearn­gin cir­cu­lated a memo out­lin­ing the chal­lenges the GHSA would face in each sport by ex­pand­ing to eight state cham­pi­onships. Is­sues in­cluded find­ing mul­ti­ple sites to host cham­pi­onships and how it would strain ex­ist­ing con­tracts with cor­po­rate spon­sors.

The 4/8 plan was then squashed by vote. A mo­tion was made by Raynette Evans, a 4/8 pro­po­nent, to amend the cur­rent five-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan, which Hunter re­jected. Evans also ar­gued that 4/8 plan had been heav­ily scru­ti­nized, and that not much was known about the six-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan. Hunter then moved for a vote on his plan.

“Know­ing the way things have gone down the past two weeks, noth­ing sur­prises me about what hap­pened,” Etheridge said. “I think the best thing to do, when you get beat, is to suck it up and go about your busi­ness. All I can do if I say some­thing is be mis­in­ter­preted.”

Wood be­lieves that al­though the six-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan hasn’t been scru­ti­nized to the level of the 4/8 plan, there was enough in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the six-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan to make an ed­u­cated vote in fa­vor of it.

“I think most peo­ple had an idea of both plans com­ing in,” Wood said. “We’ve been given the in­for­ma­tion in plenty of time. I’ve stud­ied it and sent it out to ev­ery school in my re­gion to look at. I had got­ten their votes and known their sen­ti­ments; I knew ex­actly how to vote for my re­gion to­day.

“I don’t know how other mem­bers feel about that, but I was pre­pared.”

With the pass­ing of the six-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan, Swearn­gin said the GHSA will move for­ward ac­cord­ingly.

“As far as ev­ery­thing is con­cerned, (the six-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan) is what we’ll go on when we start look­ing through the data next Oc­to­ber (when the lat­est FTE ac­counts are re­leased and clas­si­fi­ca­tions and re­gions can be as­signed).”

The six-clas­si­fi­ca­tion plan di­vided schools in per­cent­ages of 15-15-1616-16-22, from clas­si­fi­ca­tions 6A to A, re­spec­tively.

An­thony Banks /The Cov­ing­ton News

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