The Johnson High football team will play a non-region football schedule for the next two school years, athletic director Tim Rogers announced Monday.
“After much discussion with administrators and football staff, we decided it would be in the best interest of Johnson football to play a non-region schedule,” Rogers said. “We feel like this maximizes the opportunity to play competitive football games.”
The school made the decision, which eliminates the possibility of postseason play, following an informal meeting Monday morning of the new Region 8-AAAA schools. Johnson and fellow Hall County school Chestatee were assigned to 8-AAAA for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years by the Georgia High School Association last week.
During the unofficial meeting (schools can officially declare how the new regions will operate following the GHSA ratification of the realignment in January), the schools voted to play a straight region schedule in football for the next two seasons.
A vote to keep the region subdivided for football wouldn’t have necessarily changed Johnson’s decision to play a non-region schedule, Rogers said.
In addition to the two Hall County schools, the region includes Lumpkin County, Madison County, Stephens County, Eastside, Lanier, Monroe Area and Walnut Grove.
Both Johnson and Chestatee are currently in Region 8-AAA, where the Knights finished 0-10 this season, being outscored an average of more than 20 points per game.
“We’re trying to generate a new level of excitement for our football program,” Rogers said. “We feel like by having a more competitive docket of games we’ll be able to do that more.
“Our number one goal is to do what’s best for the students at Johnson High School. We feel at this time that this is the right decision for us.”
Rogers said Knights football coach Paul Friel is already working to put together a full 10-game schedule for the next season, and added that the school wants to continue to play many of the Hall County teams it has developed rivalries with.
“We’re definitely going to do our best to keep our competition as local and competitive as possible,” Rogers said. “We feel pretty confident that we can keep some of the local rivalries intact.”
Of course, that outcome depends on whether other local schools like Chestatee, West Hall, East Hall and Gainesville, the four Hall County schools that the Knights played last season, will have the dates available.