For the past two years, the Greenbrier-Evans or Greenbrier-Lakeside winner could exult in victory knowing that it won a rivalry game.
That's as far as it went, though.
Because the Wolfpack played in the Georgia High School Association's highest classification, AAAAA, those games had no effect on region standings. Consequently, they meant nothing in the race for a playoff berth.
Greenbrier makes the move back into AAAA this season. The school has a student population suitable for that classification after losing about 400 students who were rezoned when Grovetown High School opened last school year.
"I think it's good for Columbia County because ... there's more on the line than just bragging rights," Greenbrier head coach Brian Smith said.
Aside from regaining meaningful rivalry games, the move means much less travel for Greenbrier, which had been forced to make numerous trips to Atlanta.
The Wolfpack went 2-8 in 2008, then improved to 3-7 last year, ending the season with a 24-14 victory over Redan.
Smith said he thinks playing some of the state's top teams can only help Greenbrier as it moves down in classification.
"They've been going up against some of the best competition in the state for the last two years," he said. "We're pretty excited about coming back to AAAA. I think the parity will be better."
Greenbrier, Evans and Lakeside share the northern division of Region 2-AAAA with Effingham County, South Effingham and Statesboro. The region's southern division schools are Wayne County, Ware County, Richmond Hill, Liberty County, Glynn Academy and Brunswick.
Lakeside head coach Jarrett Troxler believes the region is a tough one because it offers a consistent challenge.
"There's not one game on the schedule you can look at and say, 'We're going to win that one,' " Troxler said.
Like Greenbrier, Harlem will be moving down in classification after competing in AAAA last season.
"We have AA numbers, but we would've been traveling toward Savannah to the south or Atlanta to the north," Harlem head coach Jimmie Lewis said. "We decided to go AAA and stay here."
The Bulldogs will be competing alongside Grovetown in the northern division of Region 3-AAA. The other schools in the subregion are Josey, Richmond Academy, Westside and Thomson.
Competing in the region's southern division are Burke County, Butler, Cross Creek, Glenn Hills, Hephzibah and Washington County.
After its inaugural season last year, Grovetown enters its first year playing a region schedule. The Warriors went 6-4 last season playing a nonregion schedule.
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