New classifications shuffle schedules for local high school teams
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Jan 22, 2014 | 4468 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama High School Athletic Association on Wednesday announced school classifications and region assignments for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, including a seventh division for the first time.

The new classifications don't take effect until the fall.

The AHSAA has functioned with six classifications since 1984, and the new system was approved unanimously by the group’s Central Board of Control this morning. The new Class 7A includes the state’s 32 largest high schools by enrollment, and it will be that way for all sports.

Locally, Oxford will remain in Class 6A, ranking as the 11th biggest school in the division with a daily enrollment of 880.95. In the realignment, the Yellow Jackets have moved to Region 3 for football, which gives Oxford a new set of opponents, except for rival Pell City. Oxford is joined by Benjamin Russell, Chelsea, Opelika, Valley and Chilton County.

Also, Oxford moves from the designated Northern half of Class 6A to the Southern half.

“I’m a little surprised we moved south, but not when you look at the teams. We’ll play wherever they put us,” Oxford athletics director Larry Davidson said. “We’ll play some teams we haven’t played lately, so it’ll be a nice change of pace. Plus, Pell City is one of our old rivalries.”

The biggest change for Calhoun County schools came with Alexandria and Anniston moving up to 5A. The two schools will compete in Region 6 for football, which will include Lincoln. Anniston ranked as the third smallest school in 5A, while Lincoln is the smallest. Region 6 also includes Alexandria, Hayden, Moody, Mortimer Jordan, St. Clair County and Springville.

“I was a little bit surprised because, projections we had, I thought we would be one of the larger 4As. But, unfortunately, the cutoff number was 377 or 376-something, and I think we are the third-smallest 5A,” Anniston football coach Eddie Bullock said. “I kind of looked at the teams that we’ll be playing, so I’m kind of looking forward to it, and I’m going to take it as a positive.

“There are a couple of teams I don’t know much about, but Springville, St. Clair County, Lincoln, Alexandria, of course, I’m familiar with that. I don’t know much about Mortimer Jordan, and I don’t know much about Hayden. I’ve got to find out a little bit about those teams, but I’m overall pleased.”

Clay Central also moved from Class 4A to 5A and will compete in Region 3 with Beauregard, Marbury, Shelby County, Sylacauga, Talladega and Tallassee.

Calhoun County has five 3A teams under the realignment, and all five are in Region 6 for football: Ohatchee, Piedmont, Pleasant Valley, Wellborn and Weaver. Ashville, Glencoe and Westbrook Christian will join them. White Plains and Saks made the jump from Class 3A to 4A.

“I like because we’ll get to play a lot of local teams,” Wellborn athletics director and football coach Jeff Smith said. “I knew we were going to move up to 3A and I was hoping we’d play local teams. I think it’ll be good moving forward.”

The Panthers were last in Class 3A during 2010-12, when they shared a region with Beulah, Marbury, Coosa Central, B.B. Comer, Leeds, Handley and Clay County.

Donoho, Jacksonville Christian, Sacred Heart and Faith Christian remain in Class 1A.

AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said the organization has discussed adding a seventh classification every year.

“Why did we do it at this time?” Savarese asked reporters rhetorically at a news conference at the AHSAA headquarters. “Because it was the right time.”

AHSAA Central Board President Lamar Brooks said the board had a four-hour work session Tuesday night that included a 257-page proposal from Savarese.

“What we had in 1964 when we went from two to four classes was right for our state at that time. What we had in 1984 when we went from four to six classes was the right decision at that time,” Savarese said. “Did we have something that was good? I think we had a great system in six classifications. … I think now we have a better system.”

The Central Board also voted to allow football teams 11 weeks to complete a 10-game regular season. The season will begin Aug. 21-23, 2014, although that weekend typically has been reserved for exhibition jamboree games. Schools still can play jamborees on that weekend, but then they’ll have only 10 weeks to get in their maximum of 10 games.

The changes could have been bigger, as Savarese said a Class 8A was a consideration, but seven classifications was “pushing it” and eight would require having to redesign championships for every sport.

The scheduling for state football championships will change, becoming a three-day event instead of two.

Class 7A will play its state championship on a Wednesday. In that division, 16 teams will make the football postseason, with three rounds of games, and a bye on the fourth weekend. The semifinals will be 10 days before the championship.

Classes 3A, 1A, and 5A, in that order, will play state championship games the day after Class 7A, and Classes 4A, 2A, 6A will finish up the championship week on the following day, which will be a Friday. Those six classifications will continue with 32-team playoffs.

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.



New classifications and regions/areas with local teams:

FOOTBALL

Class 6A

Region 3


Oxford

Benjamin Russell

Chelsea

Opelika

Oxford

Pell City

Valley

Chilton County

Class 5A

Region 6


Alexandria

Anniston

Lincoln

Hayden

Moody

Mortimer Jordan

Saint Clair County

Springville

Region 3

Clay Central

Beauregard

Marbury

Shelby County

Sylacauga

Talladega

Tallassee

Class 4A

Region 6


Jacksonville

Saks

White Plains

Cherokee County

Cleburne County

Crossville

Hokes Bluff

Sardis

Region 3

Munford

Childersburg

Dadeville

Elmore County

Handley

Holtsville

Leeds

Class 3A

Region 6


Ohatchee

Piedmont

Pleasant Valley

Wellborn

Weaver

Ashville

Glencoe

Westbrook Christian

Class 2A

Region 5


Ranburne

Woodland

Randolph County

Horseshoe Bend

Lafayette

Lanett

Reeltown

Class 1A

Region 5


Donoho

Ragland

Appalachian

Shades Mountain Christian

Talladega County Cental

Victory Christian

Wadley

Winterboro

Region 7

Jacksonville Christian

Spring Garden

Cedar Bluff

Coosa Christian

Gaylesville

Valley Head

Woodville

BASKETBALL

Class 6A

Area 10


Chelsea

Oxford

Pell City

Class 5A

Area 12


Alexandria

Anniston

Lincoln

St. Clair County

Area 8

Clay Central

Shelby County

Sylacauga

Talladega

Class 4A

Area 12


Cherokee County

Crossville

Hokes Bluff

Sardis

Area 11

Cleburne County

Jacksonville

Saks

White Plains

Area 8

Childersburg

Handley

Leeds

Munford

Class 3A

Area 12


Piedmont

Pleasant Valley

Wellborn

Weaver

Area 11

Ashville

Glencoe

Ohatchee

Westbrook Christian

Class 2A

Area 10


Ranburne

Randolph County

Woodland

Class 1A

Area 13


Cedar Bluff

Gaylesville

Coosa Christian

Jacksonville Christian

Spring Garden

Area 12

Faith Christian

Sacred Heart

Appalachian

Donoho

Ragland

Area 8

Alabama School for the Deaf

Talladega County Central

Victory Christian

Wadley

Winterboro

VOLLEYBALL

Class 6A

Area 10


Chelsea

Oxford

Pell City

Class 5A

Area 12


Alexandria

Anniston

Lincoln

St. Clair County

Area 8

Clay Central

Shelby County

Sylacauga

Talladega

Class 4A

Area 12


Cherokee County

Crossville

Hokes Bluff

Sardis

Area 11

Cleburne County

Jacksonville

Saks

White Plains

Area 8

Childersburg

Handley

Leeds

Munford

Class 3A

Area 12


Piedmont

Pleasant Valley

Wellborn

Weaver

Area 11

Ashville

Glencoe

Ohatchee

Westbrook Christian

Class 2A

Area 10


Ranburne

Randolph County

Woodland

Class 1A

Area 13


Cedar Bluff

Gaylesville

Jacksonville Christian

Spring Garden

Area 12

Cedar Bluff

Coosa Christian

Gaylesville

Spring Garden

Area 10

Donoho

Faith Christian

Jacksonville Christian

Sacred Heart

Area 8

Alabama School for the Deaf

Talladega County Central

Wadley

Winterboro

Victory Christian

Area 7

Jefferson Christian

Parkway Christian

Ragland

Shades Mountain Christian

BASEBALL

Class 6A

Area 10


Chelsea

Oxford

Pell City

Class 5A

Area 12


Alexandria

Anniston

Lincoln

St. Clair County

Area 8

Clay Central

Shelby County

Sylacauga

Talladega

Class 4A

Area 12


Cherokee County

Crossville

Hokes Bluff

Sardis

Area 11

Cleburne County

Jacksonville

Saks

White Plains

Area 8

Childersburg

Handley

Leeds

Munford

Class 3A

Area 12


Piedmont

Pleasant Valley

Wellborn

Weaver

Area 11

Ashville

Glencoe

Ohatchee

Westbrook Christian

Class 2A

Area 10


Ranburne

Randolph County

Woodland

Class 1A

Area 13


Cedar Bluff

Gaylesville

Coosa Christian

Spring Garden

Area 12

Jacksonville Christian

Faith Christian

Donoho

Sacred Heart

Area 8

Jefferson Christian

Shades Mountain Christian

Victory Christian

Ragland

Area 7

Talladega Central

Wadley

Winterboro

SOFTBALL

Class 6A

Area 10


Chelsea

Oxford

Pell City

Class 5A

Area 12


Alexandria

Anniston

Lincoln

St. Clair County

Area 8

Clay Central

Shelby County

Sylacauga

Talladega

Class 4A

Area 12


Cherokee County

Crossville

Hokes Bluff

Sardis

Area 11

Cleburne County

Jacksonville

Saks

White Plains

Area 8

Childersburg

Handley

Leeds

Munford

Class 3A

Area 12


Piedmont

Pleasant Valley

Wellborn

Weaver

Area 11

Ashville

Glencoe

Ohatchee

Westbrook Christian

Class 2A

Area 10


Ranburne

Randolph County

Woodland

Class 1A

Area 13


Cedar Bluff

Gaylesville

Jacksonville Christian

Spring Garden

Area 12

Coosa Christian

Faith Christian

Ragland

Sacred Heart

Area 7

Talladega Central

Wadley

Winterboro

Shades Mountain Christian
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