Some of the old rivalries will have to wait to be rekindled in Region 1-AAAA.
After the addition of Bainbridge and Thomas County Central, along with the loss of Cook, in the final step of the Georgia High School Association’s reclassification last week, the region voted to subdivide.
Central was placed in Subregion B with rival Cairo, Albany, Crisp County and Monroe. Americus-Sumter, Bainbridge, Dougherty, Westover and Worth County comprise Sub-region A.
“I was not in favor of it, but the majority vote was,” Central coach Bill Shaver said. “I just felt like we should play a full region schedule, but the region voted and that’s how they want to play it. And that’s OK.
“That’s what we’ll do. We’re just happy that we’re not having to travel 160 miles every time.”
Cairo coach Tom Fallaw said one positive to the vote is teams now get the chance to work out some kinks before playing meaningful games. If a full region slate had been played, teams would have played just one non-region contest. Now teams will play four sub-region games, two mandated crossover games and then a play-in game the final week of the season.
“You only have part of your schedule, so maybe you get a chance to get better before you get into your region schedule,” Fallaw said. “It’s kind of like non-conference games for major colleges. If you subdivide, games at the end of the year are going to be more meaningful.
“That’s something we talk about all the time is trying to get better and play those first games to see what you’ve got. That is probably why I went along with it.
“For some of the smaller schools, it’s probably good because they don’t have to play the bigger ones like Central, Bainbridge and us. Someone like Dougherty (which chose to play up in Class AAAA from AAA, as did Albany and Worth County) doesn’t have to play all three of us. They don’t have to try and run the gamut.”
The logistics of that play-in week and how it will determine playoff positioning haven’t been completely finalized, Shaver said. But one possibility mentioned was the two sub-region champions meeting for the region championship and runner-up, with the No. 2s playing No. 3s to determine the third and fourth seeds.
While each region team is mandated to play seven region games, the GHSA states that subdivided regions must have 70 percent of their schedule be region games, Central and Cairo will actually play eight games against region foes. Bainbridge will play nine.
In the drawing for crossover opponents, the Bearcats didn’t draw either of their rivals in Central and Cairo. so Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton agreed with both Shaver and Fallaw to play anyway.
“We didn’t draw them in the crossovers and, obviously, we want to play Bainbridge with them being that close," Shaver said. "Since we didn’t draw them, we both agreed to play each other.
“He’s playing us and Cairo and neither of us are the crossover games he drew.”
In addition to the Bearcats playing at Thomas County Stadium in non-region competition, Central has completed its schedule with a trip to Valdosta as well as getting Riverdale traveling down from Atlanta. The Raiders agreed to make that trip the next two years.
While missing out on Bainbridge in crossover play, Central did draw a visit from Americus-Sumter and a trip to Worth County. In subregion play, Central travels to Cairo for the second straight year and visits Monroe. Albany and Crisp will play at Central.
“Our longest road trip is we have to go to Worth in one of the crossover games,” Shaver said. “That used to be our shortest trip.
“We’re not going to be upset about any of that. We’re just happy where we’re at.”