THOMASTON -- Jesse Crews doesn’t know where the rumor came from, but it was a strong one that lingered in the air around Macon for the better part of a month.
The four large Macon private schools -- FPD, Mount de Sales, Stratford, Tattnall Square -- would be split up in Tuesday’s GHSA region reclassification meeting. Two one direction. The other two in the opposite direction.
Mount de Sales, Stratford and Tattnall are joining FPD in the GHSA beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
Crews is the athletics director of Charlton County and one of the GHSA reclassification committee members who spearheaded region reclassification in Class A. He said he couldn’t envision breaking up four private schools in the same city.
So Mount de Sales, Stratford and Tattnall will join FPD in Region 7-A. The schools join Georgia Academy for the Blind, Twiggs County and Wilkinson County in sub-region A, while Aquinas, Georgia Military College, Glascock County, Hancock Central, Lincoln County, Taliaferro County and Warren County will be in sub-region B. The region can decide whether to sub-divide for football, or it can play a full-region schedule. Georgia Academy for the Blind and Taliaferro County don’t play football, and Glascock County has traditionally played a non-region schedule.
“We want as many rivalry games in close proximity that we can get; that’s what we were looking for,” Mount de Sales athletics director Robert Slocum said. “That and filling out a schedule, rivalries and not having to play teams out of state or in lower classifications just to have a schedule were important.”
The rumors of splitting the Macon schools largely proliferated from the idea that most public-school heavy regions wouldn’t want four private schools together in one region.
So people at some of the Macon private schools heard they could be split up to avoid such a problem.
“We had heard a lot of rumors over the past few days, but from day one, the Georgia High School Association and (executive director Ralph Swearngin) indicated they couldn’t see splitting up the four Macon schools,” Stratford athletics director Grady Smith said. “It is exciting, and we’re looking forward to the four Macon schools being able to compete against each other again and having those natural rivalries.”
Swearngin re-iterated to The Telegraph on Nov. 18 that he didn’t think the committee would split up the Macon schools.
Keeping the Macon schools together meant one of three destinations if the committee kept together the souls of existing regions.
The committee could send them south to Region 4-A, which consisted of Brookstone, Central-Talbotton, Dooly County, Greenville, Hawkinsville, Marion County, Pacelli, Schley County and Taylor County -- Taylor County dropped down from Class AA.
It could send them north to Atlanta in the private-school heavy Region 5-A that finished with 17 schools, although only Eagle’s Landing Christian, Landmark Christian, Mount Vernon Presbyterian, Our Lady of Mercy, Strong Rock and Whitefield Academy play football. ELCA, Mount Vernon and Strong Rock are former GISA schools. A number of the most powerful Class A football programs are in Region 5-A.
The final option meant sending Mount de Sales, Stratford and Tattnall to join FPD in Region 7-A.
Officials at some of the schools predicted Region 5-A was the most likely destination prior to Tuesday. All parties seemed excited, however, at the eventual outcome.
“We have enjoyed the competition in Region 7-A, so we’re glad to stay there and get a chance to build on those relationships,” FPD athletics director Greg Moore said. “At the same time, we welcome our friends in Macon and look forward to the opportunity to renew some healthy rivalries locally. Our region is tough, and it just got tougher -- that’s for sure.”