After two years as a part of the Georgia High School Association's Region 2-AAAA, the region landscape for Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside will look dramatically different during the next two years.
The GHSA's new region realignment shifted several teams around in Class AAAA. The result presents all three schools in Region 3-AAAA with a good news, bad news scenario. Area football teams picked up most of the bad news.
"You look back when everybody at Evans was so upset about having to travel to Atlanta," Evans football coach Marty Jackson said. "Those were the good ol' days, in my opinion."
Baldwin and Jones County, at least two-hour road trips each, are no longer in the region, but Wayne County, Ware County, Brunswick and Glynn Academy are in.
Geographically, those four schools are located directly southwest of Savannah.
"The problem with this region is there's no interstate to Wayne County or Ware County. It's all back roads," Jackson said. "As the crow flies, I think Ware is about 210 miles and Wayne County is 212. You're looking at nearly four hours each way."
The good news for area football teams is the addition of Richmond Academy to the region. The Musketeers, previously in Region 3N-AAA with Harlem, will jump to Class AAAA for the next two years, making for a simple 20-minute road trip for Columbia County schools.
However, the fact still remains that four-hour trips to southern Georgia will take its toll on area football teams. Fortunately for the county's other sports, coaches elected to play in a sub-region format.
Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside joined with Richmond Academy and Statesboro to form a north sub-region to cut down on travel. Throughout the regular season, the teams in the north sub-region are not required to play any of the schools in the south sub-region.
"I'm pleased. It's going to cut down on travel for us," Greenbrier girls basketball coach and softball coach Garrett Black said. "We won't play the schools down there unless we hit them in the region tournament somewhere."
Only the region's football coaches voted to avoid subdividing. Jackson said the Columbia County coaches did vote for subdivision, but with a unanimous vote needed, the option was cut off by the schools in south Georgia.
Jackson said the problem stemmed from a sport that doesn't have a region tournament.
"The thought process was they wouldn't come up with the best region champion if you subdivided," Jackson said. "You may have one side a little weaker than the other. If everybody plays everybody, there's no question about it."
The new region realignment will go into effect beginning with the 2006-07 school year and last at least two years.
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