Region 6-AAAAAA: Alpharetta, Centennial, Chattahoochee, Habersham Central*, Johns Creek, Lambert, North Forsyth, Northview*, South Forsyth, West Forsyth
Region 8-AAAAA: Apalachee, Cedar Shoals, Clarke Central, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Heritage (Conyers), Lanier*, Loganville, Salem, Winder-Barrow
Region 8-AAAA: Buford*, Chestatee, Johnson, Madison County, Monroe Area, North Hall*, North Oconee*, Stephens County, Walnut Grove, White County*
Region 7-AAA: Banks County, Dawson County, East Hall, Fannin County, Franklin County, Lumpkin County, *West Hall
Region 8-AAA: East Jackson, Elbert County, Hart County, Jackson County, Jefferson*, Oconee County, Morgan County,
Region 8-AA: Riverside Military, Union County, Greene County, Oglethorpe County, Rabun County, Social Circle, Washington-Wilkes
Region 8-A: Commerce, Athens Academy, Athens Christian, George Walton, Hebron, Lakeview Academy, Prince Avenue, Providence Christian, Rabun Gap, Tallulah Falls, Towns County, Woody Gap
Bold indicates area schools
* indicates schools new to region
Two local regions are scheduled to undergo dramatic shakeups, while several others will experience more subtle changes in the latest Georgia High School Association realignment.
The GHSA spent Tuesday dividing its member schools into regions for the upcoming 2014-16 athletic seasons, a process that will result in multiple changes for both Region 8-AAAA and Region 7-AAA.
Region 8-AAAA in particular will feature a bevy of talented programs, and not just in football.
The region will see the addition of state-power Buford, North Hall, North Oconee and White County, all of whom are moving up to Class AAAA from AAA, to go along with current region members Chestatee, Johnson, Madison County, Monroe Area, Stephens County and Walnut Grove.
“We are fully expecting to be in a very competitive region,” North Hall athletic director Richard Crumley said. “I would say it is going to be very competitive in every sport, male or female.”
Meanwhile, three other regions in which area teams compete have been reduced from eight members to seven, including Region 7-AAA, the current home of Buford, North Hall and White County.
Lumpkin County, currently in Region 8-AAAA, will move down to Region 7-AAA next year alongside current members Dawson County, East Hall, West Hall, Banks County, Fannin County and newcomer Franklin County, which will make a lateral move from Region 8-AAA.
Another interesting piece of news from Tuesday’s meeting was the association’s decision to place Jefferson in Region 8-AAA once the school moves up from 8-AA in August.
The GHSA could have opted to leave Franklin County in Region 8-AAA and place Jefferson in Region 7-AAA based on geography. Instead, the Dragons will join a seven-team Region 8-AAA and compete against county rivals Jackson County and East Jackson, among others.
The addition of Jefferson to the region will allow the three Jackson County-based schools to play one another on a more regular basis and raises the stakes beyond local bragging rights.
“I think it is still a really tough region, week in and week out,” Jackson County football coach Benji Harrison said.
“I think it makes (the rivalry) bigger (because of) the fact that they are so close, and now that it means a lot more because it is back in the region, it makes it a lot more important of a game.”
Riverside Military Academy and Union County will remain in Region 8-AA, which will also downsize to seven teams following Jefferson’s departure. No other changes are planned for the region.
In Class A, Lakeview Academy, Commerce and Towns County will all stay in an unchanged Region 8-A, a 12-team group consisting of both public and private school members.
Gainesville and Flowery Branch will remain members of Region 8-AAAAA, which saw only one change — the addition of Lanier, a relatively new program from Gwinnett County that will be moving up from Class AAAA.
In Class AAAAAA, Habersham Central was given a reprieve when it was announced the school will no longer compete in Region 7-AAAAAA, which is otherwise filled entirely with Gwinnett County schools. Instead, Habersham Central will compete in Region 6-AAAAAA with numerous Forsyth County and North Fulton County schools.
The lateral move for Habersham Central comes after two difficult seasons in numerous sports, including football.
The Raiders combined for a 1-19 record in two years of playing varsity football in Region 7-AAAAAA, which includes North Gwinnett, Norcross, Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek.
Tuesday’s region alignment for the upcoming two athletic seasons is the fourth step in the GHSA reclassification process, which occurs every two years. On Nov. 18, the Reclassification Committee placed schools in their new respective classifications, based on school enrollment numbers.
Schools had until Monday to submit their intent to play in a higher classification.
Moving forward, schools have until noon on Dec. 13 to submit their intent to appeal for a lateral transfer to another region within the same classification. The Reclassification Committee will meet in Thomaston to hear appeals on Dec. 17, and the reclassification plan will be officially ratified on Jan. 14.