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Pinecrest Academy accepted into GHSA
Paladins to begin play in 2010-11 season
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Forsyth County News
The Paladins are about to ride onto a much bigger stage.

The state’s largest umbrella for sanctioning high school sports just got a little larger, with Pinecrest Academy announcing its acceptance into the Georgia High School Association this week.

Pinecrest, a private Catholic school offering preschool through 12th grade instruction, currently plays in the Georgia Independent Schools Association, but had applied to join GHSA, primarily citing travel concerns within the smaller, south Georgia-centric GISA.

Pinecrest will compete in GHSA beginning fall 2010. With a high school enrollment of around 200, the Paladins will compete in Class A, with the association’s smallest schools. The school has not yet been assigned to a region, but would appear to be a good fit in either Region 5-A or Region 7-A, both of which already include several Atlanta-area private schools.

“We’re moving on up, as people would say,” said Charles Wiggins, head football coach and athletic director at Pinecrest.

“We’re just looking forward to our upcoming season and then going forward in [GHSA].”

Pinecrest principal John Tarpley sent an e-mail on Tuesday officially announcing the move to parents and others connected to the school.

With more than 400 member schools, GHSA is home to all of the state’s public high schools, but Tarpley noted there’s nothing unusual about a private, religiously-based school like Pinecrest joining the association.

“There is nothing in the constitutions of either [GISA or GHSA] that impinges upon the mission of Pinecrest Academy,” Tarpley wrote in his e-mailed announcement.

“In fact, many faith-based schools are members of GHSA for purposes of fair and equitable competition, including the Marist School, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School, Blessed Trinity Catholic High School, St. Pius X Catholic High School, as well as Protestant and Jewish high schools such as Wesleyan, Mt. Pisgah and Yeshiva.”

Tarpley also wrote that Pinecrest was essentially forced to leave GISA due to the number of area private schools migrating to GHSA in recent years, leaving Pinecrest with fewer opponents. He cited Mt. Pisgah, North Cobb Christian, Fellowship Christian and Whitefield Academy as examples.

Currently, only two of Pinecrest’s traditional metro Atlanta opponents remain in GISA, Tarpley said — Holy Spirit Prep in Buckhead and Mt. Vernon Presbyterian, just north of Interstate 285.

Bob Crone, a Pinecrest parent and sports fan, thinks the move will be a good one, especially on the mileage front.

“I’m just real happy. I like to go a to a lot of the Pinecrest sporting events, and several times in the last couple years, we’ve been to games that were closer to Florida than they were to Atlanta,” he said.

Crone thinks the move will help Pinecrest form natural rivalries with private schools closer to home.

The approach for scheduling non-region opponents could vary by sport at Pinecrest. Wiggins indicated the football team will likely stick to other Class A opponents, since football teams receive no tiebreaker benefit from “scheduling up” against higher classifications. However, Tarpley indicated that coaches in other sports like basketball might be willing to schedule games against other Forsyth County schools, who play in higher classifications.

As for the level of competition, Crone expects the going to be tougher, but thinks the Paladins will be up to it. Pinecrest has made the playoffs the last two years in football, while the boys basketball team has been in the state championship game two years running.

“I think we’re going to have a tremendous challenge, but anything worth striving for is going to be a challenge. I think most of the Pinecrest community is going to be very excited about this,” Crone said.

“We’re going to have stiff competition, but I think we’ll be OK.”

Pinecrest will be the sixth Forsyth County school to play in GHSA, and the only one outside of the county’s public school system. Lambert High School will become the fifth local school to join the association this fall.

Pinecrest was established in 1993, and has fielded varsity athletics since 2004.

E-mail BJ Corbitt at