The Georgia High School Association recently announced the 2008-2010 region alignment rosters.
The biggest change for Bryan County High School is that Region 3A will split into two sub regions with 12 teams in the mix.
The biggest change for Richmond Hill High School will be the amount of travel.Besides Liberty County, the closest school in the new Region 3AAA will be 2-1/2 hours away.
BCHS’s participation in A is mandated as every area school with enrollment under 525 is assigned to it. Although RHHS is officially AAA based on an enrollment of 1,300 students, they can move up if they wish. RHHS Athletic Director Jimmy Hires decided last week to stay AAA.
"I felt like it was going to be a tough choice going into it, and that was certainly the case," Hires said. "Hopefully it will be the best decision for us. We’re staying in the region we’re supposed to be in. Travel is going to be bad, but we’ll have the opportunity to pick up some close games. The only other way to go was AAAA which would be tougher competition and also a lot of travel or AAAAA where we’d have to play schools with 3,000 kids."
Although the final region makeup won’t be released until later this month, here is a preliminary lineup from www.ghsa.com. Subregion A of Region 3A will include Bryan County, Calvary Day, Claxton, Portal, Savannah Christian and Savannah Country Day while Subregion B will have ECI, Jenkins County, Metter, Montgomery County, Treutlen and Wheeler County. Every sport but football will also include Johnson County and Telfair County. Football will include all Subregion A competition plus at least two teams from B. Region 3AAA is slated to include Richmond Hill, Baldwin, Burke County, Liberty County, Thomson, Washington County and West Laurens.
Here's some reaction from coaches at both schools:
- RHHS girls soccer coach Steve Kollman: "Honestly, the competition level will be about the same. St. Vincent’s, who have always given us a run for our money, is moving to AA, but they’ll pretty much be replaced by the talented West Laurens program who have made the playoffs for a number of years. The biggest problem here is the sheer amount of travel and how this will affect our student athletes, especially if they participate in multiple sports. They’ll be leaving school early a lot to travel to away games. Baldwin County, for example, is four and a half hours away. Hopefully, for them, we can work out a midway point to play, like Dublin."
- RHHS football coach Brian Brocato: "The teams we’re going to play will be tougher. Three of the tougher ones will stay with the addition of a couple playoff teams. West Laurens is traditionally a tough team. Baldwin has a good record. Thomson has the legendary coach Luther Welch. All things considered though, this is better than moving to AAAA which has even tougher competition with teams like Statesboro and Glynn County, and there would still be a lot of travel. We’re slowly becoming geographically isolated in this area. It would be nice if we could have a region right here, but, in order for that to happen, we need to build more schools or some of the Savannah schools (who are AAAAA) need to drop down to AAA or AAAA."
- RHHS softball coach Jodi Reagan: "The biggest factor I see for softball is travel because the competition will be about even. If anything, I think this will actually increase our playoff chances which is exciting; I just dread the miles that we’ll have to travel to get there. I think it will be interesting to get to play some different teams as well."
- RHHS boys soccer coach Wade Wright: "It’s not going to affect us much other than travel. Thomson and Washington County have traditionally been strong, but we can handle them. Liberty we know we can play with. West Laurens is definitely not weak. Burke doesn’t have soccer. Our biggest competition will be Baldwin. Dropped from the Region are the tough South Effingham and Benedictine teams. The travel will be rough on the kids though. To make it to a 5 p.m. game in Baldwin, they’d have to check out of school around 10:30 a.m. The other side of that is the 100-mile rule which says games that are 100 miles or more away must be played on Friday or Saturday. Another thing is that, if we make it to state, that will certainly entail a lot of travel and this schedule will certainly prepare us for that."
-RHHS baseball coach Mitchell Curry: "You can be a state champion and it’s still hard to get off a long bus ride and beat somebody. It’s going to be tough. As for competition, I feel we can compete with any of those teams. West Laurens had a big year. Washington County is tough, but didn’t make it to the playoffs. Losing South Effingham helps us, but I’d play South Effingham any day of the week rather than travel four hours to play Baldwin."
A common theme for BCHS coaches is the impact of Savannah Christian’s 3A arrival. SCPS moved down because of the new way private schools are being counted, said BCHS Vice Principal Rod Backman. He said GHSA used to count each student as one and a half, but now they use real numbers. There are two other private schools in 3A.
-BCHS athletic director and football coach Ron Lewis: "There will be only a slight increase in travel as we’re primarily the central location in the alignment. On average, there will probably be another 20 or 30 minutes on the road. For football, we’re trading out Region champs ECI for Christian but the rest is pretty much the same teams as now. Overall, the competition level will be raised though. I don’t want to give our kids any excuses, though; they may have to step it up a notch. This is a lot like when Savannah Christian went to AAA. That’s when their commitment level and ability improved. They chose to rise up rather than complain. That’s what we need to do."
-BCHS boys basketball coach Keith Bazemore: "I’m not crazy about the number of Region opponents as it doesn’t leave much room for non-region games, and the odds of getting to the region tournament are decreased. Looking at the teams, the competition will be a bit tougher. Savannah Christian has been on the rise lately. Metter and Jenkins are young now, but will be on the rise next year."
-BCHS baseball coach Al Butler: "Other than the addition of Savannah Christian, I don’t think it will be a huge change for us. It did make the Region a bit tougher though. Calvary made it to the playoffs. Metter has always had a great program. I feel confident our program will succeed though."
-BCHS softball coach Kim Covington: "It will be a little tougher. Savannah Christian has a strong softball program, so I look for them to make an impact. I think we’re still going to be alright. They’ll be a lot more competition, but I have a lot of confidence in our program right now."