All five of Forsyth County’s public high schools are expected to compete in the same region starting next fall as part of the Georgia High School Association’s most recent reclassification, which expanded from six classes to seven under a bylaw change introduced in August.
The GHSA released the new class breakdowns Wednesday and will give schools until Nov. 30 to petition to move up a classification.
Forsyth Central, previously in Region 7-AAAAA, Div. B, ranks 40th out of 48 schools that place in the top tier, or Class AAAAAAA, based on enrollment numbers. North Forsyth and West Forsyth rank 25th and 26th, respectively, while Lambert and South Forsyth place seventh and eighth.
The reclassification is a huge relief for Central athletic director Dan Kaplan. Not only does the reclassification add Central with the four Forsyth schools that already compete in the same region (Region 6-AAAAAA), adding more internal competition in the community, but the logistics of the change are paramount.
“Travel will be a lot less stressful,” Kaplan said. “We were in a region with 14 teams, and those schools were located anywhere from Dalton, to Cartersville, to Atlanta. It never really made any sense for us.”
On Dec. 1 the GHSA will create the regions within each classification, and then give another week for schools to appeal for a lateral transfer within their classification.
North Forsyth athletic director Nathan Turner, who has worked with the GHSA on the reclassification process, expects one or two teams to be added with the five Forsyth schools to complete the Forsyth-centric region, with Roswell and Milton as candidates. Johns Creek, which ranks first in enrollment in AAAAAA, could apply to move into AAAAAAA and become another candidate for the region. North Gwinnett and Collins Hill also are geographically favorable schools, but are not preferred by the athletic directors in the county.
“We originally thought it would be North Gwinnett and Collins Hill, but as this has continued to shake it out it looks like the Gwinnett schools will all be in regions together,” Turner said.
The official ratification of the new regions, which will begin next fall, will come on Jan. 13.
“We knew with the numbers that we’d be in the ‘super class,’” Kaplan said. “We’re excited about creating rivalries. I know the coaches are excited. We can’t wait to compete, in every sport.”
Pinecrest Academy remains in Class A (private). Schools between Classes AA and AAAAAA were subject to moving up a class if their out-of-district enrollment is above 3-percent. Pinecrest, not subject to the rule in its classification bracket, has a 26.3-percent out-of-district enrollment.
Class A will expand its playoffs from 16 teams to 24 teams.