THOMASTON – Mount de Sales will begin its return to the GHSA in Class A, joining FPD, Stratford and Tattnall Square in the smallest class.
All four Macon private schools will be in Class A after the GHSA reclassification committee determined its classifications Monday for the 2014-16 reclassification cycle. Most Middle Georgia schools weren't affected, although Rutland and Westside dropped down a class from Class AAAA.
Mount de Sales, Stratford and Tattnall are jumping over from the GISA to join FPD in the GHSA next year, but the Cavaliers were a threat to move away from their Macon rivals.
Mount de Sales just missed the cutoff for Class AA by 15 students. It has 423 students, 15 fewer than Pace Academy, the smallest Class AA school.
“We were prepared for either,” Mount de Sales athletics director Robert Slocum said. “It’s going to be tough either way. There are great schools in both.”
Mount de Sales competed in the GHSA until 1980, and Stratford was also previously in the GHSA.
The other enrollment counts for the Macon private schools: FPD (361), Stratford (301), Tattnall (207).
The GHSA reclassification committee will place schools in regions on Dec. 3.
GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said he believes all four schools will be placed in the same region.
“I can’t think of any scenario that we would put schools in the same town in different regions,” Swearngin said. “I just don’t see that happening. Never say never, but I don’t see that happening.”
Slocum and sources at other Macon private schools said they’ve heard a movement to split the four Macon schools between two regions. Adding four private schools to any region that has a majority of public schools may be unpopular. Class A schools accumulate power rankings in team sports to make the playoffs, and they are heavily rewarded for victories. FPD was set to move to Region 4-A during the last reclassification through an appeal to move from Region 7-A. A majority of schools in 4-A were against the move and FPD stayed in 7-A.
Swearngin said the most important criteria in deciding region reclassification is time away from school for students.
“The primary thing is geography,” Swearngin said. “We are hearing so much from superintendents and principals and school board people about cutting down travel time, keeping kids in school more. That’s the primary thing. Then, the second thing is to try to get some kind of numerical balance in the regions so we don’t have a 16-team region and four-team region.”
Rutland and Westside dropped down a class to Class AAA. They could join Central, Peach County and Southwest in a region. Northeast remained in Class AA, but the Raiders could elect to play up a classification to join the other three Macon schools in AAA. Howard is still in Class AAAA.
“It will be nice to be on the upper half of the classification and not be on the bottom half,” Rutland athletics director George Collins said. “It’s nice to be in AAA, but then again, here comes Peach County, and that will be tough. There will be challenges no matter where you play.”
Collins said he would miss leaving his current region. The Hurricanes have been grouped with Baldwin, Howard, Mary Persons, Perry, West Laurens and Veterans during the past few years.
“Part of it is those are great people that are easy to work with, and it’s been that way for four years,” Collins said. “Those people are going to protect their programs, but they’re always going to do what’s right, and that has made that region special.”
Northside was the largest school in Middle Georgia, but the Eagles came 50 students short of being in the largest classification. They will stay in Class AAAAA along with Houston County, Jones County and Warner Robins.
Only two other Middle Georgia schools were affected.
Toombs County jumped up a class to AAA, and Taylor County dropped down to A.
Classifications of Middle Georgia schools
Northside, Houston County, Jones County, Warner Robins
Baldwin, Veterans, Upson-Lee, Perry, West Laurens, Mary Persons, Howard, Crisp County
Central, Westside, Rutland, Peach County, Southwest, Dodge County, Washington County, Toombs County
Jeff Davis, Fitzgerald, Vidalia, Lamar County, Putnam County, Bleckley County, Northeast, East Laurens, Dublin, Monticello, Crawford County, Macon County
Telfair County, Mount de Sales, Taylor County, Wilkinson County, Hawkinsville, Montgomery County, Dooly County, FPD, Wilcox County, Johnson County, Treutlen, Hancock Central, Stratford, GMC, Wheeler County, Twiggs County, Tattnall Square