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GHSA reclassification has North Hall, Buford, White County and Jefferson moving up in 2014

Lumpkin County going down to Class AAA

POSTED: November 18, 2013 6:13 p.m.

The Georgia High School Association reclassified its member schools for the upcoming 2014-16 athletic seasons on Monday, and several area schools will be moving to different classifications starting next fall.

White County, Buford and North Hall will jump to Class AAAA, despite narrowly having enough students on their enrollment numbers to qualify for the move. All three schools were fewer than 50 students above the mark to place them in Class AAAA.

White County was reclassified with an enrollment of 1,143, Buford with an enrollment of 1,141 and North Hall an enrollment of 1,103. The final school to be classified for Class AAAA was Pike County, which had an enrollment of 1,096.

Despite cutting it close, the move to the larger classification was expected, says Buford athletic director Dexter Wood.

“We’ve grown a little bit over the past two years and we kind of thought with our enrollment numbers, grades 9-12, that we would probably go up,” Wood said.

Jefferson will also move up a classification, going from Class AA to AAA, while Lumpkin County is the lone area school that will move down, going from Class AAAA to Class AAA.

All other area schools will remain in their respective classifications for the next two athletic seasons.

New region alignments for the classifications will be announced Dec. 3 at a meeting in Thomaston. Any school wishing to play at a higher classification can appeal to the GHSA by Dec. 2.

Flowery Branch and Gainesville will remain in Class AAAAA. Flowery Branch, which boasts an enrollment of 1,747, was just 55 students from being moved up to the state’s largest classification and will now serve as the state’s ninth largest school at the AAAAA level. Gainesville will be the 16th largest school in the classification with an enrollment of 1,714.

Dawson County will be the largest school in Class AAA, with an enrollment of 1,087. West Hall (1,061), East Hall (1,059), Lumpkin County (1,053) and Jackson County (1,048) are all inside the top 11 of the Class AAA reclassification numbers.

Jefferson, which has an enrollment of 862, will be one of the smallest schools in Class AAA.

Jefferson’s move to Class AAA was expected, according to athletic director Tim Corbett. The only thing not determined for the school is which region it will be placed into.

Jefferson could be placed into Region 8, with the likes of Jackson County, Elbert County, Hart County and Oconee County, or in Region 7, with schools like East Hall, West Hall, Dawson County, and, potentially, Lumpkin County.

“I’m not saying we got what we wanted, because you never know how these things play out, but we have a chance to play a reasonable number of schools around us and create a region that will be competitive and perhaps not as much traveled,” Corbett said.

“When you look, you have folks like Elbert and Hart on one side and you have folks like Lumpkin and Fannin on the northern side. We are kind of sitting here in the middle.”

The uncertainty for potential region alignments expands past Jefferson and schools moving to new classifications.

“We’ve been in a region, in the past, with Fannin County, we’ve been in a region with Franklin, with Jackson County, East Jackson, Lumpkin before,” said West Hall athletic director Scott Justus. “Where we’re located, it just depends on how (the GHSA) divides it up.

“Whatever they come up with, and however they want to do it, we’re going to put on the pads and get the balls out and get the bats out, and we’re going to compete in that region and do whatever we have to do.”

The move to Class AAAA for White County, Buford and North Hall could potentially create a highly competitive region, featuring Chestatee (1,243), Monroe Area (1,109), Johnson (1,307), North Oconee (1,110) and Stephens County (1,099).

The region, which will officially be announced Dec. 3, would be one of the toughest in the state.
“Overall, as you move up in classification, in an overall sports program, it is going to be tougher on you,” Wood said. “It is a numbers game and schools with larger enrollments are going to have a larger pool of players to choose from.

“I certainly know, from a football standpoint looking at that list, there are some very powerful teams. We are expecting it to be a tough jump for us in all sports.”



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