Region realignment reinforces rivalries


Courtesy of Georgia High School Association

Over the summer, the Georgia High School Association realigned the regions. The Mill will now compete in a more local region of 7 teams, rather than a region comprised of 13 teams spread across three counties.

Jenna Sanders, Staff Writer

Coaches, players and fans highly anticipate local face offs among in-county rivals. This year, a realignment in the region means the Mill will have to defeat some very familiar opponents in the fight to reach state.

Looking at the geography, we could put schools from the same county of the same size in region.”

— GHSA Executive Eirector Gary Phillips

“This schedule is a lot tougher. We had to schedule ten non-region games, and when we schedule non-region games, we don’t pick teams we will beat nine nothing,” girls’ soccer head coach, John Bowen, said. “We try to find the top teams in the state, and we went from having ten games that could go nine null to having maybe three.”

The Georgia High School Association realigned the regions, placing Starr’s Mill in a region of seven teams as opposed to the previous region comprised of 13 teams. This new region includes four of the five Fayette County schools, Sandy Creek being the only one who doesn’t compete in AAAAA. In addition, regions will be realigned every four years instead of every two years.

“Geography is the number one consideration during the reclassification,” GHSA Executive Director Gary Phillips said. “Looking at the geography, we could put schools from the same county of the same size in region.”

In previous years, McIntosh and Whitewater were the only Fayette County schools regioned to play the Mill. This year, Fayette County joins the Bubble’s region, intensifying the local rivalries for the season. This also adds pressure to Fayette games, raising the stakes of local games and making them more about reaching state than just for bragging rights.

“It’s nice because Fayette County, McIntosh, us, and Whitewater, we’re all in the same region,” Bowen said. “So we all kinda have to play each other and then we actually scheduled Sandy Creek as well just because we were playing everybody else and so that makes it more of a local rivalry.”

Since the regions are more concentrated, players will be able to spend less time on the bus and more time in class. Transportation had been an issue in the past since schools such as Ola and Woodland were considered part of the Mill’s region, forcing players to spend up to two hours traveling to and from an away game.

“The geography of the schools definitely [has an] affect on the time the students are missing school,” Phillips said.

In the new region, Starr’s Mill has a better chance of making the playoffs now that the top four schools out of the seven will move on. This means the Mill will only have to beat three other schools rather than seven like last year. Because of these more favorable odds, the Mill has a greater chance of winning the Director’s Cup for its third consecutive year.

“With a thirteen team region, our chances for playoffs were a lot smaller than they are now,” boys basketball head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “We only have to be better than three teams to get into the Final Four of the playoffs. So it definitely is a change this season.”

The Mill is already well into its region games, yet more major local face-offs against schools have been scheduled for later in the season. Panther softball is 2-1 in the region already defeating Griffin and McIntosh, and losing to Whitewater. Volleyball will play their first in region match on Sep. 13 against McIntosh and Morrow at McIntosh. Panther football will play its first region game on Sep. 23 against Morrow at home.