Thanks to a positive vote last week in Stone Mountain, Ga., Evans High School's athletes and coaches will have a merrier Christmas and happier two years.
Region 7-AAAAA principals and athletic directors met Nov. 19 at Redan High School and approved a proposal that will reduce travel distances for the Evans athletic program during the 2002-03 season.
The vote allows Evans to compete in region tournaments and be eligible for the state playoffs without having to play a full-region schedule. The Knights will continue to play a full-region slate in football.
The road woes began when the Georgia High School Association added a classfication of AAAAA before the 2000-01 school year, making Evans the only Class AAAAA program within 135 miles of Augusta.
Subsequently, Evans entered Region 4-AAAAA, where the average roundtrip for away games is 320.6 miles. During the first year in the region, Evans athletic teams combined for more than 16,000 miles of travel.
Now Evans will take the road less traveled.
"This is like a breath of fresh air," said Lee Chomskis, head football coach and athletic director. "We're really blessed, very fortunate and extremely excited for our kids."
Under the new region alignment, Evans' teams will travel to play 7-AAAAA opponents 12 times - four each in football, basketball and baseball. The region will be subdivided in baseball, and, depending on where Evans is placed, the Knights might travel only three times in that sport.
Evans will take some trips for region tournaments, but the regular-season relief is significant. Had the proposal been rejected, Evans' teams would have faced nearly 50 bus rides with an average roundtrip of 270.4 miles.
"It's an immense change," Chomskis said. "Everything that we wanted, we got, except for basketball."
In basketball, Evans will be required to play each region team once, with four games away and four at home. A standard region schedule of home-and-home contests would have forced Evans to travel eight times next season.
Three weeks before the meeting at Redan, the GHSA had rejected an isolation policy as a solution for Evans.
That vote stunned Evans, but the long road ended in Stone Mountain
"It's like a burden has been lifted," Evans Principal Don Brigdon said. "We went in looking for help, and we got it this time."
Region 7-AAAAA alignment for 2002-03
Cheerleading, cross country, golf, swimming, track and wrestling: Teams play local schedule during regular season and compete in postseason region meets or competitions based on times, records or draw.
Soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball: Teams play local schedule during regular season; committee of three representatives will determine seedings for region tournaments - DeKalb and Fulton counties will have one representative each, and GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin will represent Evans.
Basketball and football: Teams play full-region schedule, face each region team once during the regular season.
Baseball: Team plays subregion schedule; winners of each subregion play for No. 1 and 2 state playoff seeds, with subregion runners-up competing for No. 3 and 4 seeds.
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