New GHSA region assignments make rivals of Buford-Collins Hill, Roswell-Blessed Trinity

Collins Hill has the No. 1-ranked football team in Class 7A. Buford is No. 1 in 6A. In a year, they will be chasing the same championship, part of the new Region 8-7A released Thursday by the Georgia High School Association.

The new regions, effective for the 2022-23 academic year, will foster new rivalries, and some schools will be watched more closely than others.

Buford has won 49 state titles in various sports this century, 12 in football, across six classifications, starting in Class A in 2001. For the first time next year, the Wolves will be in the highest class with fellow Gwinnett County schools Collins Hill, Mill Creek and others.

Roswell and Blessed Trinity, cross-town rivals that rarely compete against each other, will find themselves in Region 7-6A together next year. Roswell is down from 7A while Blessed Trinity is moving up.

Private schools, such as Blessed Trinity, and city schools, such as Buford, were the most affected by the GHSA’s latest reclassification, which moved those kinds of schools to higher classes in most cases. It was the work of a 3.0 multiplier that targeted schools with high percentages of students from out of zone.

Carrollton, which competed in Class 4A as recently as 2015-16, is now in 7A, the highest class, with Westlake and East Coweta in Region 2.

DeKalb County private schools St. Pius and Marist are up in Region 4-6A with northern crescent metro Atlanta schools Dunwoody, Riverwood and South Cobb. Woodward Academy is up in Class 6A with Clayton County-dominated Region 3.

Greater Atlanta Christian, a Class 2A school back in 2015-16, is now in 5A with north Fulton County schools Cambridge, Centennial and Chattahoochee in Region 6.

Region 1-7A has a more robust look to it with five schools – Camden County, Colquitt County, Lowndes, Richmond Hill and Valdosta. It’s been since 2015-16 that the iconic Region 1 from the highest class had more than four members.

Also conspicuous in the region assignments is Class A Private. It’s shrinking.

Two of its regions have only three schools. Region 8 has only Athens Christian, Athens Academy and Prince Avenue Christian while Region 1 comprises Brookstone, Heritage of Newnan and St. Anne-Pacelli. Later Thursday, Heritage announced it was leaving for another association, leaving the region with Brookstone and Pacelli. Eight small private schools have left the GHSA in the past week, and more are expected to follow, which could lead to the GHSA having to redraw or combine Class A Private regions.

The region assignments can be appealed on Nov. 18, after which they become final. Over the next week, schools may request a different region, but not a different class.