Cedar Grove celebrates its victory over Crisp County in the state championship game last season.
Photo: Photo: John Amis
Photo: Photo: John Amis

Class AAA football blog: New-look regions should make for an interesting 2020

The 2020 GHSA football season already has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic after teams were sidelined from spring practice because of COVID-19.

The spring is a crucial time for programs to prepare for the upcoming season, and there was a lot to look forward to in Class AAA after reclassification shook up regions across the state.

Class AAA did not lose a tremendous amount of talent. Cedar Grove, the defending state champion, and Crisp County, the runner-up, stayed in the class. But Calhoun, which had won the 6-AAA title each season since 2001 before losing it last season to North Murray, moved up to Class AAAAA, costing AAA one of its top yearly contenders. Region 1 and Region 4 were the most shuffled of the eight regions in the classification.

Here are the new-look regions for 2020:

Region 1

Lineup: Appling County, Brantley County, Long County, Pierce County, Tattnall County

Who moved out: Every team.

Who moved in: Every team.

Impact: Region 1 was a four-team region with Crisp County, Cook, Monroe and Worth County. Now, with five teams, there will not be a need for an at-large bid in the playoff brackets from this region. All of the teams that now make up Region 1 were in Region 2 last season.

Region 2

Lineup: Americus-Sumter (from AAAA), Central-Macon, Crisp County, Jackson, Mary Persons (from AAAA), Peach County, Pike County, Upson-Lee (from AAAA).

Who moved out: Region 2 became Region 1, so all new teams now play in Region 2.

Who moved in: Americus-Sumter, Mary Persons and Upson-Lee came from AAAA to join former Region 3 teams Central-Macon, Peach, Pike and Jackson. Crisp County moved over from Region 1.

Impact: Peach has dominated region play for years, but it should be a tougher task this season. State runner-up Crisp County and Mary Persons should challenge. Mary Persons has a solid program, and Crisp returns almost all of its top players. Crisp, which has dominated a lesser Region 1 for four seasons, will have its hands full this season.

Region 3

Lineup: Beach, Groves, Johnson-Savannah, Liberty County, Savannah, Southeast Bulloch, Windsor Forest

Who moved out: Jenkins, Benedictine, Islands

Who moved in: Liberty County

Impact: Jenkins (2016, 2017 and 2019) and Benedictine (2018) have won the region titles in each of the past four seasons, but now the region is wide open. Liberty County’s move to this region makes sense for the football and basketball programs.

Region 4

Lineup: Burke County (from AAAA), Cross Creek (from AAAA), Harlem (from AA), Hephzibah (from AA), Morgan County, Richmond Academy (from AAAA), Thomson (from AAAA).

Who moved out: Peach, Jackson, Westside-Macon, Central-Macon, Pike County, Rutland and Kendrick.

Who moved in: Burke County (from AAAA), Cross Creek (from AAAA), Harlem (from AA), Hephzibah (from AA), Morgan County, Richmond Academy (from AAAA), Thomson (from AAAA).

Impact: Morgan County is the only program in the new Region 4 that was in Class AAA last season. All other teams enter from AA or AAAA.

Region 5

Lineup: Carver-Atlanta (from AAAAA), Cedar Grove, Douglass (from AA), Greater Atlanta Christian, Redan, Salem (from AAAA), Sandy Creek (from AAAA), Westminster

Who moved out: Lovett, Pace Academy, Towers, Stone Mountain

Who moved in: Carver-Atlanta, Douglass, Greater Atlanta Christian, Salem, Sandy Creek

Impact: The seemingly classic Region 5 – with Lovett, Pace and Westminster – is no more. Three programs – Cedar Grove, Redan and Westminster – still remain alongside the new entries. Carver-Atlanta dropped two classes from AAAAA to join the region. Greater Atlanta Christian came in from Region 7 and will add talent to the region.

Region 6

Lineup: Adairsville, Coahulla Creek, LaFayette (from AAAA), Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Murray County, North Murray, Ringgold, Rockmart (from AA), Sonoraville

Who moved out: Calhoun, Haralson County

Who moved in: LaFayette, Rockmart

Impact: Before last season, Calhoun had won every region title since 2001. It is now a AAAAA school. North Murray, last year’s region champion, returns. Rockmart, the AA runner-up from 2018-19, is a wonderful addition to the classification.

Region 7

Lineup: Cherokee Bluff, Dawson County, Gilmer (from AAAA), Lumpkin County, North Hall, West Hall (from AAAA), White County

Who moved out: Greater Atlanta Christian, Fannin County, East Hall

Who moved in: Gilmer, West Hall

Impact: Greater Atlanta Christian’s departure to Region 5 opens up the region for all of the newcomers and seasoned teams that remained in the region. GAC had won the region every year since joining AAA in 2016.

Region 8

Lineup: East Jackson, Franklin County, Hart County, Monroe Area, Oconee County (from AAAA), Stephens County (from AAAA),

Who moved out: Jefferson, Morgan County, Jackson County

Who moved in: Oconee County, Stephens County

Impact: Jefferson, which won the region title last season, is no longer in the class. Monroe Area, the 2018 region champion, remains to compete against AAAA additions Oconee County and Stephens County.

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