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Photo by Jon Barash
Photo by Jon Barash

Camden County has been one of the most successful football programs in the state of Georgia for the last decade. But because the school is located on the border with Florida, the Wildcats have to travel long distances for away games which is not fun for coaches, players and fans. Because Camden, along with other schools in the more remote parts of Georgia, the GHSA has two proposed plans to reclassify teams to make competition better and traveling easier. One plan is features six classifications while the other plan would feature more eight state champions per gender per sport. Here’s a look at the proposed plans.

Back in 2000, the GHSA realigned classes and added a 5A classification for schools with a large number of students. So schools such as Walton, Brookwood, Lowndes and Valdosta were in 5A due to the number of enrolled students, generally over 2,000. With the first proposed plan, 5A would be gone and there would only be four classifications. However, there would be more state champions crowned.
Why is that? Because each region for each classification would be divided into two groups: the upper tier and lower tier. The upper tier will have schools with the larger enrollments while the lower tier will feature the smaller enrollments.
Here’s an example. Region 1 in Class 4A will have 10 schools including Lowndes, Valdosta and Northside (Warner Robins). But due to enrollment, Lowndes would play in the upper tier, while Valdosta and Northside would compete in the lower tier.
Now, here’s how the playoffs would take shape. For a sport like football, each region for each tier will have assigned slots for the tournament. In the system that is in place today, each region gets four slots for playoffs. That won’t be the case with the new proposal because some regions will only have two or three teams in a tier for a certain region. Just like Camden County, which is in the same region as six other schools, but due to their population being over 2,200, Camden along with Brunswick are the only teams in the upper tier. So when the playoffs come around, only one of those two teams will earn a spot in postseason action.

The other proposed plan, which has not been talked about as much as the four classification plan, is adding a sixth class which would aim at splitting the teams in 5A because of the difference between the state’s largest school and the lowest populated school in 5A is dramatic. Alabama has a similar structure where they have six classifications with the sixth class being the highest in enrollment and the first class being the lowest. This plan has not been laid out as much as the four-classification plan because this plan is focused primarily on Class 5A.
So when is this all going to kick off? The GHSA is going to meet in mid-May to vote on the 4/8 plan. If the plan receives enough votes by the executive committee, then the plan would be in action during the 2012-13 school year. If not, then the five-class plan will continue until the 2013-14 school year. One thing’s for sure, high school athletics in Georgia will never be the same.