GHSA announces preliminary classifications for 2024-26

Nov. 3—THOMASTON — For those who have been constantly pressing the refresh buttons on their computers, the Georgia High School Association announced a preliminary list of classifications Nov. 1.

Should they wish, schools will have until noon on Nov. 8 to submit an appeal. Those appeals will be heard Nov. 9 and shortly after, schools will be placed in regions.

Class 7A has been lopped off for 2024-26, with 6A being the class for Georgia's largest schools. Sixty-five schools have placed in 6A at this time, nearly all from Metro Atlanta.

Potential teams for Region 1-6A are Lowndes, Camden County, Richmond Hill, Valdosta, Colquitt County, Tift County, Houston County and Effingham County.

Colquitt County to Effingham County is a four-hour drive. Google Maps considers the trip longer than state tournament games in Gwinnett County.

Effingham has been placed in the state's largest class before, but successfully appealed out because of isolation. There are two closer schools in this potential region, though Camden is still nearly two hours.

Sources say Houston County is appealing its placement in Class 6A. The Bears are in a difficult position geographically as Tift would be its nearest opponent at a bit more than an hour away. Everyone else in the proposed 6A is at least two, with Camden 3.5 hours from Warner Robins. Houston is almost close enough to be flexed to a north Georgia region, but the closest opponent there is Newton, two hours away.

Houston would have the best odds at being moved into another classification as it is one of of the smallest schools listed with 6A, with a count of 2,218. Alpharetta, at 2,208, is currently the smallest projected 6A school.

Eight schools in the region does leave open the chance that the region could be split into sub-regions. However, this would be unbalanced as there are five schools in the west and three in the east. If Houston moves down, four and three look more feasible.

If Houston is denied, could any schools opt to move up who could help with the travel? Perhaps.

Though none are borderline 6A, Brunswick, South Effingham and Veterans all have counts of 1,975 or greater. Northside (Warner Robins), Bradwell Institute (Hinesville), Lee County and Glynn Academy all have counts between 1,940-1,950.

Thomas County Central, in Region 1-6A for the past two seasons, looks headed for Class 5A. The Yellow Jackets appealed their placement in 6A in 2021, so it appears unlikely they would want to be in that class this time, especially as they are considered a small 5A.

The restructuring of classifications has perhaps thrown a curve to a few south Georgia schools. Berrien, Fitzgerald and Worth County have been placed in Class A, Division I, down from AA. Berrien has not been a Class A school since the 1973-74 season, and has been in AA since 1984. Thomasville was also placed in A-DI, down from AAA. Brooks County and Pelham are also considered this size.

Cook remains in AA. The Hornets do not seem to have an easy region fix, either, being either a far west outlier in an area that would include Brantley County and Appling County, or perhaps flexed to an area that would include Sumter County and Columbus schools.

Irwin County was moved down to Class A-D2, where it is the second largest in that division.