Spring football: breaking down the new-look Class AA

The new GHSA reclassification will kick in next school year and it impacts Class AA. The number of schools in AA will increase from 63 to 66 — though not all of those schools have football programs — and AA will both lose and gain some schools. 

Perhaps the most notable program to leave AA is Benedictine, which won two of the last four state titles. That they remained in AA after the 2016 reclassification created a stir, as it was the lone private school with a football program to remain, with the others — namely GAC, Lovett, Wesleyan and Westminster of then-Region 6-AA — moving to AAA. It took a couple of years, but now the Cadets will join them in AAA, becoming a part of the 10-team Region 3, the classification’s largest region.

Bremen and Union County are the two most notable programs to join AA.

Here’s a breakdown of the realigned regions for AA:

Region 1: Berrien, Brooks County, Early County, Fitzgerald, Thomasville

In/out: N/A

Notes: Albany was slated to be in 1-AA last season, but the school closed abruptly weeks before the season began, leaving the rest of 1-AA to scramble looking for a replacement opponent. Some teams found one, others didn’t. So in short, 1-AA remains unchanged.

Region 2: Bacon County, Bryan County, Jeff Davis, Metter, Swainsboro, Toombs County, Vidalia

Out: Benedictine

In: N/A 

Notes: After 2-AA member schools threatened litigation over Benedictine remaining in the region, the Cadets are finally gone and no one in the region will miss them.

Region 3: Bleckley County, Dodge County, Dublin, East Laurens, Northeast, Southwest, Washington County

In/out: N/A

Notes: 3-AA remains unchanged.

Region 4: Butler, Glenn Hills, Harlem, Hephzibah, Jefferson County, Josey, Laney, Screven County, Westside

In: Hepzibah

Out: N/A

Notes: The region didn’t lose anyone, but gains the Hephzibah Rebels, who went 4-6 last season, 0-10 the year before and hasn’t had a winning record or playoff appearance since 2014. In fact, that season — they finished 6-5 — was their only winning season since 2010. 

Region 5: Bremen, Callaway, Heard County, Jordan, Lamar County, Spencer, Temple

In: Bremen

Out: N/A

Notes: The Bremen Blue Devils should make 5-AA more competitive. They’re coming off a 9-2 record and went 7-5 the year before that. They’ve improved in each of Davis Russell’s first two seasons at the helm, so he has them as a program on the rise as he enters his third season.

Region 6: B.E.S.T. Academy, Douglass, Hapeville Charter, KIPP, McNair, South Atlanta, Therrell, Washington

In: McNair

Out: N/A

Notes: The McNair Mustangs don’t have much to offer 6-AA if recent history is an indication. They come from AAA and haven’t’ had a winning season since 2008. They last made the playoffs in 2006. They have finished 3-7 in three of the past four seasons, going 2-8 in the other one.

Region 7: Armuchee, Chattooga, Coosa, Dade County, Gordon Central, Model, Pepperrell, Rockmart

In/out: N/A

Notes: Along with 3-AA, this is the only region that remains unchanged after the reclassification.

Region 8: Banks County, Elbert County, Monticello, Oglethorpe County, Putnam County, Rabun County, Social Circle, Union County

In: Union County

Out: N/A

Notes: The Union County Panthers are a solid addition to 8-AA and have enjoyed six consecutive winning seasons, reaching the playoffs four times in that span. They also bring stability, with coach Brian Allison entering his 11th season.

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