COVINGTON — There is without a doubt that the proposed 2014-2016 region realignment proposed by the Georgia High School Association will impact all the schools. But if it remains as is, it appears as if Eastside will get hit the hardest and not just from a financial point of view.
As a member of Region 8-AAAA, Eastside’s travels are significant having to travel north of Athens to Madison County and to the North Georgia mountain area to play Lumpkin County and Stephens County along with having to play Lanier, Gainesville and Chestatee. On the other hand, they also had Walnut Grove and Monroe Area making them close rivals.
The one good factor about most of those teams is that they have a strong fan base that travel with the teams.
“We keep getting moved and we can’t get any rivalries going besides Newton and Alcovy,” Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. “If you look at schools like Mt. Zion and Jonesboro, they’ve been together for a while.”
The Eagles have been moved every time over the past four realignments. After moving from 8-AAAA to 8-AAA for the 2006-2007 season, they were in 4-AAA for 2008-2009 before moving back to 8-AAA for 2010-2011 and their current region, 8-AAAA with the addition of the extra classification.
Under the new alignment, Eastside is moving to Region 4-AAAA where they again be on the outer edges of the boundaries only this time they will be the northern most team.
The other changes are that they will lose their rivals with Walnut Grove and Monroe Area plus being part of a 10-team region they will not be allowed to play both county schools in the same year forcing them to alternate.
Under the proposed alignment, Eastside will be grouped with four Henry County schools, three Clayton County schools and two Spalding County schools. In the new region are Hampton-Henry, Locust Grove, Eagle’s Landing Henry County, Riverdale, Spalding and Griffin.
If Eastside feels it in their best interest to try to remain in 8-AAAA, considering that Buford is moving to 8-AAAA, the Eagles have until Dec. 13 to appeal.
Alcovy, Newton and Rockdale will remain in Region 2-AAAAAA with a few new faces. The region will be losing Druid Hills, Luella and Morrow but gain Lakeside-DeKalb and Tucker.
The only chance to Salem and Heritage’s region, 8-AAAAA, is the addition of Lanier. Since they are in a 10-team region that still leaves room for someone to play Rockdale keeping that rivalry alive.
“It makes for us geographically with Lanier being up by Flowery Branch and Gainesville. We don’t have bad traveling,” Heritage athletic director Chuck Landy said.
“When we could pick up two (games), that allowed both us and Salem to pick up Rockdale. But now we’re only going to be able to pick up one game. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it just makes it more challenging.”
The GHSA will solidify the new regions with their official vote in January.