The road to a region championship just got considerably steeper for a trio of Walton County high school football teams.
The Georgia High School Association recently released the newly realigned regions for 2016-18 and, pending appeals, Loganville, Walnut Grove and Social Circle face some stiff competition for league supremacy.
GHSA member schools have until Monday at noon to appeal their placement and request a lateral move to another region in its classification. However, all five of Walton’s GHSA-affiliated programs are planning to stay where they’ve been assigned.
Loganville will remain in Region 8-AAAAA while Walnut Grove will join the Red Devils after its enrollment numbers bumped it up from Class AAAA.
Joining the two local schools in their region will be Buford, the state’s most successful athletics programs since the turn of the century. The Wolves have won 10 state football titles since 2001, including the past three, and they are favored to take home a fourth consecutive championship later this month.
“There’s not a lot we can do about it,” said Loganville head football coach Mike Humphreys. “They are who they are, and the rest of us have to figure a way to catch up to them.”
While winning the region might be tougher, the two could have an easier path to the playoffs. Region 8-AAAAA has just seven teams, with the top four earning state berths. Other league members include Cedar Shoals, Clarke Central, Flowery Branch and Johnson of Gainesville, none of whom made the playoffs this season.
Social Circle successfully appealed its initially assigned bump up to Class AAA, allowing the Redskins to remain a member of Region 8-AA. However, the league will look much different, including the addition of Elbert County.
The Blue Devils have reached the state quarterfinals the past two years, each time being eliminated by eventual state champ Calhoun.
The only remaining teams in the region from the last two years are Oglethorpe County and Rabun County. Banks County dropped down from AAA and Monticello and Elbert moved from other regions in AA.
Monroe Area’s playoff chances likely improved with a move down to Region 8-AAA, which features just six teams. Most notably, Buford won’t be on the slate.
George Walton Academy will stay in Region 8-A, which remained unchanged. The league will feature eight private schools and Commerce.
Class A public and private schools will continue to be separated for postseason play with a power ranking system determining playoff berths. Starting next fall, the number of teams making the playoffs in Class A will increase from 16 to 24 for the two separate brackets.