Dalton High School Catamounts

December 18, 2013

Dalton’s realigned region realigned again

Football will have sub-region slate

After initially proposing a Class 5A region with 17 schools, the Georgia High School Association’s reclassification committee met Tuesday in Thomaston and redrew regions, sending ripples across the state in the association’s second-largest class.

Dalton is the only school in Murray or Whitfield counties that will compete in Class 5A for the GHSA’s next two-year cycle, so the Catamounts are the only local athletic program that will feel the tremors with a major shift from the original regions released by the GHSA on Dec. 3.

Dalton moves from a relatively compact northwest Georgia region that stretched from Dalton southwest through Bartow, Floyd, Paulding, Douglas and Carroll counties to a new region that plunges southward into the heart of metro Atlanta.

“This is an advanced game of musical chairs,” Dalton football coach Matt Land said. “But it is what it is.”

Originally in Region 5-5A, Dalton is now in 7A-5A with Bartow County schools Cass and Woodland, plus Rome and Cherokee County schools Creekview, River Ridge and Sequoyah. Sub-region B will have Forsyth Central, Cobb County’s Kell and Sprayberry, and north Fulton County schools Cambridge, North Springs and Riverwood.

Under GHSA rules, regions that are sub-divided must have 70 percent of their football games against region foes, meaning crossover games on the gridiron. The sub-regions in Region 7 are unbalanced, with seven in 7A and six and 7B, meaning the 7B teams will need two crossover games against 7A teams on their schedules.

Dalton will have six sub-region games, and the final game of the year will be a crossover game to determine playoff seeding and fill out the schedule, a format similar to what Dalton fans have been used to the past four seasons. That would give Dalton three non-region games to pick up, meaning the Cats could still play local rivals such as Northwest Whitfield, Calhoun and Ringgold.

However, the Sub-region B schools will still need one game against a region opponent. Land said the Cats could have as many as three non-region games and as few as one, depending on what the region’s coaches decide to do. Land said a meeting was being scheduled for later in the week.

Land said that Dalton’s athletic staff wasn’t surprised by the newest region dividing lines.

“What was handed to us today was the very first proposal that we came up with when we were drawing (potential region alignments) to begin with,” Land said. “This is pretty much what we all thought was going to happen anyway. We were surprised with the first regions that came out. This is kind of what we had expected.”

In the new sub-region, Dalton has played football games previously with Cass, Rome, Sequoyah and Woodland, but the Cats have never played Creekview or River Ridge — Cherokee County’s two newest schools.

“This logistically makes the most sense,” Land said. “From a travel standpoint — looking at proximity and the teams we have played in the past and transportation for the fans, for the most part, this keeps people north of the loop (the I-285 perimeter around Atlanta).”

But travel will still be a concern for other sports at the school. Baseball coach Shane Ramsey was the softball coach and baseball assistant at Northwest when the Bruins were in a similar region. He isn’t looking forward to a return to the long bus trips.

“The travel is the worst part of it, not only the cost, but the wear and tear physically on the kids,” Ramsey said. “We leave school early and get home late, and we are going to lose some of our rivalries because you just can’t play everyone that you would like.”

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