With the upcoming reclassification going into effect beginning next season, AA will be gutted of some great programs that made the classification one of the most competitive in the state. They will be replaced by other programs — some of which are also very good — and we’ll go over those next week. But for now, let’s say farewell to those leaving for a change of scenery.
Dublin (Region 3)
Leaving for: A-Public, Region 4
What we’ll remember: The Fighting Irish leave AA on the highest note possible — as state champions. They returned to AA in 2004 for their third stint — the others were 1992-93 and 1964-77 — and in that time they became a fixture in AA, winning two state titles and seven region titles while reaching the postseason all but two seasons, advancing to four semifinals and seven quarterfinals. They also posted a 144-49-1 record — all under coach Roger Holmes.
Brooks County (Region 1)
Leaving for: A-Public, Region 2
What we’ll remember: The BC3. Six region championships. A title game appearance, six semifinals appearances and 11 quarterfinals appearances. That and more is what the Trojans will be remembered for in their fourth AA stint, which began in 1996. The were also in AA from 1980-93, 1976-77 and 1970-73. They went 188-95-1 during that stretch, with Maurice Freeman coaching the team for all but seven of those seasons. They, along with Dublin, helped to bring the small-town feel of high school football to AA.
Rockmart (Region 7)
Leaving for: AAA, Region 6
What we’ll remember: The Yellow Jackets’ fifth stint in AA — others were 1956-59, 1962-63, 1974-77, 1982-2011 — only lasted four seasons but it kicked off the Biff Parson era, which resulted in three region titles, advancing in the postseason every year and no fewer than nine wins a season (43-8). They set a program record for wins in 2018 — the Jackets started playing football in 1923 according to the GHSFHA — going 14-1 to reach the state title game for the first time since 1957. Last season, they won their first 11 games and appeared poised to return to the championship before their starting quarterback suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first round of the playoffs.
Hapeville Charter (Region 6)
Leaving for: AAAA, Region 6
What we’ll remember: The Hornets are masters of doing more with less. Their program began in 2011, but their first full varsity season came the following year, which coincided with them joining AA. Winston Gordon has been their only coach, and is 58-34-2 during their time in AA including a state championship in 2017. In their last four seasons they achieved four Region 6 titles, advancing in the playoffs each year, three quarterfinals and two semifinals appearances.
Douglass (Region 6)
Leaving for: AAA, Region 5
What we’ll remember: The Astros played just four seasons in their only AA stint, which is the lowest classification the program, which began playing in AAA in 1968, has ever competed in. Playing in the shadow of region rival Hapeville Charter, they managed four winning seasons, qualifying for the playoffs each year and advancing in all of them save for one. They saved their best for last, reaching the quarterfinals in 2019 — the furthest they’d advanced since 1995. The Astros went 36-12 while in AA.
Others leaving AA: Region 2 - Bryan County, Metter; Region 4 - Harlem, Hephzibah; Region 5 - Jordan, Spencer; Region 6 - B.E.S.T. Academy; Region 7 - Armuchee; Region 8 - Oglethorpe County, Social Circle
Correction: A previous version of this story had Monticello leaving AA. Monticello remains in AA, but is now named Jasper County.
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