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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 8:30am

GHSA Votes To Split Class A Playoffs

Every few years the GHSA executive committee is required to ratify a proposal offered forward by the reclassification committee, grouping member schools into various regions within classes based upon geographic location and enrollment size. The reclassification for the next two years was an arduous process that initially saw a sixth class added to the previous five, but the drama was just beginning.
After the reclassification committee submitted a draft that featured plenty of movement and created new region rivals a small faction of Class A public schools, mostly from South Georgia, banded together and began planning a defection. Eventually, the GHSA executive committee convened and voted to split the Class A playoffs into two “tournaments,” with a public school bracket and a private school bracket.
Beginning with the 2012-13 year and extending through the 2013-14 school year, the GHSA will award seven state championships in its sports.

The biggest result of reclassification is that the biggest just got even bigger. With population booming in northern Gwinnett County as well as South Georgia, Class 6A will make its debut, with many of the familiar faces from 5A stepping up. Schools such as North Gwinnett, Norcross, Mill Creek, Brookwood and Grayson will be a part of the new Class 6A and most will remain region rivals with the teams they have faced over the past few seasons. Down south, Valdosta and Lowndes will move to Class 6A along with Colquitt County, but those teams, already in a brutal football region, will face some stiffer competition next year when perennial-power Camden County joins Region 1-6A. Chattahoochee and Lovejoy will also play in Class 6A after playing in Class 4A last year.
In Class 5A, a mixture of current Class 5A holdovers will be mixed with schools that have stepped up in enrollment from the old models 4A and even 3A. Stephenson and ML King remain in 5A but Kell is back in 5A and Allatoona makes the jump up from 3A.
Buford, long a Class 2A power in multiple sports, will see new competition in the new Class 3A, including facing new regional foes. Buford will be in a region with East Hall, West Hall and North Hall. The football, softball, basketball and baseball powerhouse will now meet old rivals Blessed Trinity and Decatur as well as new opponents such as St. Pius X and Peach County in the playoffs.

The main drama though was saved for the smallest classification in Georgia, Class A. Led by representatives from Clinch County, Wilcox County and several other schools, a group that aimed to call itself the Georgia Public School Association (GPSA) was testing the waters of defecting from the GHSA to form a third high school athletics association, potentially with help from GISA. The group felt that private schools in Class A featured advantages through GOAL as well as the ability to recruit students, something that is frowned upon by public schools in the GHSA. The group received a victory in Tuesday’s meeting when an overwhelming vote of 36-12-1 was rendered on the topic of splitting Class A’s playoffs into a private school division and a public school division. The two types of schools will be allowed to face one another in the regular season but will be divided up in the postseason. How the division will take place for the two 16-team tournaments will be decided upon in the coming weeks. This past football season four private Christian schools reached the semifinals; however prior to this season, public schools had won nine of 10 Class A football championships.
This current reclassified model will be in play for the next two school years and then the reclassification committee will once again be called upon to slot the schools in regions across the state.