Last week, the Class AAAA blog took a look at each of the eight regions in the classification and listed the updated region assignments for each one. Following the general overview, began a region-by-region breakdown of Class AAAA’s new landscape and highlighted the six teams that will be competing in Region 1-AAAA , the new Region 2-AAAA field of nine teams and then Region 3-AAAA and Region 4-AAAA. Today, we will take a look at the many changes to Region 5, which will have no returning teams from its former alignment (Cartersville, Cedartown, Central-Carroll, Chapel Hill, LaGrange, Sandy Creek and Troup). Former Region 4 opponents Hampton, Luella, McDonough and North Clayton are now in the region. They will be joined by former Class AAAAA Region 3 opponents Fayette County and Riverdale in addition to Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, which arrives from Class AAAAAA’s Region 4. Additionally, I will post the realignment for Region’s 6-8 below and those will be expanded on in the coming days.
Fayette County: The Tigers went 0-10 in 2018, which marked the first winless season in the school’s 60-year history. Nick Davis was hired to take over the program the following year, and he guided the Tigers to a 2-8 finish. After only scoring 60 points the entire 2018 campaign, Fayette County was able to boost its average to 13.9 ppg. Still, the program has missed out on the postseason in each of the past four seasons and will be looking to use the reclassification as a fresh start as it looks to get back into the playoffs.
Hampton: The Hornets reached the playoffs out of Region 4 this past season and closed out a 5-6 record after an opening-round loss to Perry. The young Hampton program has only been around since the 2014 season and Chad Ashley has led the Hornets in each of the past six seasons heading into 2020. The team produced just one victory in its first-four seasons, but has been able to compile a 4-6 finish in 2018 and then last year’s 5-6 record and first-ever playoff berth. Hampton defeated Fayette County 15-13 last year in its season opener, defeated Luella 19-13, McDonough 36-7, and fell 8-7 to North Clayton—all positive signs that the team will remain a competitive playoff threat in the new region landscape.
Luella: The Lions promoted former assistant Craig Coleman to be its new head coach this February following the departure of Jason Jackson after three seasons. Luella produced a 4-7 finish in 2019 and earned the No. 4 seed out of Region 4-AAAA—in large part to the 19-13 loss to Hampton that resulted in the Hornets earning the No. 3 seed.
McDonough: The Warhawks failed to make the playoffs in Eric Solomon’s debut season as head coach in 2019 and closed out a 4-6 finish. This year’s team has scheduled M.L. King, Mary Persons, Woodland-Stockbridge and Rockdale County as non-region opponents and should be in midseason form when they open up region play against Luella and North Clayton. Offensively, quarterback Isaiah Massay is returning for his senior season and will look to develop into a more consistent passer as the Warhawks offense attempts to improve from its respective 20.7 ppg average in Solomon’s first year at the helm.
Mt. Zion-Jonesboro: Former head coach Kevin Johnson stepped down following the 2019 season and the head coaching position has yet to be filled. The team finished last season 3-7 and missed out of the playoffs for the 10th-straight year. It was not all negative, however, the team was dramatically more competitive and shrank its average margin of defeat from 15.3 ppg the previous season to .9 ppg.
North Clayton: The Eagles reached back-to-back postseasons in 2016-17, but has struggled the past two seasons as head coach Cap Burnette was dealt with a roster filled with youth and inexperience. The clear goal for the team will be establishing itself offensively after a very difficult 2019 season that saw them average just 5.4 ppg.
Riverdale: Head coach Rodney Hackney led Riverdale from 2001-03 and made stops at five other programs before returning to the Raiders in 2018. Under his leadership. Riverdale has followed its 1-9 campaign in 2017 with back-to-back 7-4 seasons and the first back-to-back playoff appearances since 2005. Last year’s group dropped a 48-35 non-region loss to Carrollton, but was then 7-1 heading into its final two region games with a chance to close out its first region title since 1998. A heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Starr’s Mill, however, preceded a 47-14 loss to Griffin in the season finale and the Raiders dropped down to the No. 3 seed. Neither Starr’s Mill nor Griffin are now situated in Riverdale’s same region and the team has a chance to break that long region championship hiatus in this new configuration.
NOTES: None of the seven teams that competed in Region 6 return as it shifts from a North-Georgia group of teams to a Metro-based lineup of teams. Druid Hills and Marist join from within the classification, while Arabia Mountain and Miller Grove make their way to Region 6 from Class AAAAA. Hapeville Charter makes a two-classification jump up from Region 6 in Class AA, while Mays and Stephenson make a two-classification descent from Class AAAAAA.
NOTES: Region 7 saw a complete turnover with the departure of Blessed Trinity, Chestatee, Denmark, Flowery Branch, Marist, West Hall and White County). Four former Region 6 teams (Heritage-Catoosa, Northwest Whitfield, Pickens and Southeast Whitfield) and Cedartown and Central-Carroll from Region 5 now form the region.
NOTES: Madison County and North Oconee will be joined by five newcomers after the vacancies left by Oconee County, St. Pius and Stephens County. Jefferson and East Hall arrive from Class AAA and Cedar Shoals hails from Region 8 in Class AAAAA. Additionally, former Region 7 opponents Flowery Branch and Chestatee arrive from within the classification.
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