Instead of having to face schools scattered around northwest Georgia, the Knights’ athletic programs would face more manageable trips to schools in Cobb and Fulton counties. The new region essentially cut travel distances in half.
That will no longer be the case.
Two weeks after the GHSA set its regions for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, its reclassification committee met Tuesday and revealed widespread changes to four of the eight regions in Class AAAAA.
The changes all came to regions built of schools from metro-Atlanta counties, with Region 7AAAAA gaining four teams and losing one.
North Atlanta will no longer be joining the region, instead being shifted to Region 6, while Woodland-Bartow, Dalton, Cass and Rome have been shifted from Region 5 to Region 7.
With the new additions, the total number of schools in Region 7AAAAA has increased from 10 to 13, forcing the region to be subdivided — something many coaches wanted to avoid. Creekview, Sequoyah and River Ridge will be in one subregion with Woodland, Dalton, Cass and Rome. The other subregion B will consist of Sprayberry Kell, Forsyth Central, North Springs, Riverwood and Cambridge.
While Baker didn’t want to sound overly dramatic, he said the travel for his athletes will be as strenuous as it stands now in Region 7AAAA.
“It’s going to make us travel more,” Baker said. “I don’t want to say anything negative, but it is what it is. The travel aspect is back where we were last year, basically. We will be able to pick up Sequoyah and Creekview in our subregion, so that will help us some, but we will still be traveling to Bartow County and Rome and Dalton. We didn’t have any of those teams in our subregion last year. Actually, we will be traveling further than we did last year.”
River Ridge and its county neighbors will face subregion trips that range from about 25 miles to Cass, to about 75 to Dalton.
Previously, the Cherokee County schools’ furthest trips would have been into neighboring Cobb, Fulton and Forsyth counties.
As an athletic director, Baker looks at everything, from the cost of teams like volleyball, softball and baseball traveling, to the number of fans opposing teams will bring to football games.
“Us, Creekview and Sequoyah will now have to travel to Cass, Dalton and Rome in all of our sports and not just football,” Baker said. “It will be across the board — baseball, soccer, all of them.”
Sequoyah and Creekview are in a different situation, having been in a region that was fairly close. Sequoyah athletic director Todd Miller anticipates that his school’s travel expenses will double.
“That is a big concern for us,” Miller said. “The fact that we will have to travel to Rome and Dalton and Woodland and Cass — that is our biggest concern. From the region that we were in, to going to this, it’s going to pretty much double our cost of travel.”
Miller said he wasn’t in favor of subregions, but with 13 teams, there wasn’t another option — particularly with football.
“I personally would rather not have to play the crossover games,” he said. “It’s a hassle to figure it out when you are putting a schedule together.”
Baker said the competition won’t be much different that it was two weeks ago, when River Ridge found out it would be moving from Class AAAA up to Class AAAAA. Each of the region’s new additions field competitive teams across a variety of sports.
Miller agrees that the new Region 7AAAAA will be a competitive one.
“We have previously been in a region with some of these teams, so we had a good relationship with them in the past,” he said. “You just think about football, especially how well these teams travel. It can put a hurt on the gate receipts.”
Miller also looked in terms of how late the student-athletes will be out at night following an away game.
“I look at the baseball team playing an away game at Dalton, then trying to get back at 12 o’clock at night,” Miller said. “It makes it tough. I’m sure Dalton and Rome probably feel the same way about traveling to us.”
In the end, Creekview, Sequoyah and River Ridge were able to remain in the same region for the first time. That, Miller said, will give a boost to all the schools.
“It will be an asset to be able to put someone else from within the county in there,” Miller said. “I think it’s going to continue to be a rival game and we are excited to have them in with us.”
The football coaches from the region will meet today in order to work out the region schedule, including crossover games. Baker anticipates that each program will play the GHSA-mandated minimum of seven region games, which means at least two crossover games between subregions.
As far as crossovers for the region championship are concerned, that will also be addressed in today’s meeting.
“We will know a little bit more (today) than we do now,” Baker said. “It’s all going to get hashed out.”