Of particular note for The Star's local teams is Class 3A, Region 3.
Beginning in 2010, the region will include three potential 2009 state champions.
Undefeated Handley, currently ranked second in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, will drop down a classification. Clay County (9-1), ranked No. 6 in Class 2A, will move up again. The Panthers went to the Class 3A state championship game in 2006 and 2007. Those two will join sixth-ranked Leeds (8-2), the defending Class 3A state champions and 2009 Region 5 champions. Wellborn, Central Coosa (which also moved down from 4A), B.B. Comer, Beulah and Marbury round out the region.
Some coaches, especially those in Class 3A, Region 6, were concerned about something else. That region will include nine teams, a fact which might create all kinds of interesting scheduling scenarios.
Most regions include eight teams and seven region games. Thus teams play non-region games in Weeks 1, 5 and 10, the latter of which is mandated by the AHSAA.
But when you've got eight region opponents as White Plains, Piedmont, Weaver, Saks, Glencoe, Hokes Bluff, Susan Moore, Ashville and J.B. Pennington will in 3A, Region 6, things can get complicated. Teams only have two weeks to schedule non-region opponents and often will only have teams from the three other nine-team regions to choose from.
That's why the Class 3A, Region 6 coaches acted quickly, meeting in Gadsden on Wednesday afternoon to make out their schedules for the next two seasons.
"We're going to play seven-straight region games before we play one
non-region game," White Plains coach Heath Harmon said. "It's going to make for an interesting region."
Region 7 will be the only other region in Class 3A with nine teams, none of which from The Star's coverage area.
Participating in a nine-team region will be a new experience for all those involved. It also could affect several teams from more lucrative non-region games, Harmon said.
Etowah County schools Hokes Bluff, Glencoe and Southside traditionally play one another in non-region play, capitalizing off their rivalries and proximity to generate revenue.
Starting in 2010, making those games happen will be impossible.
All of the nine-team regions will be in Classes 2A and 3A. The new alignment also eliminated six-team areas in basketball.
But on the field, it's the same ole mantra to most everybody.
"It doesn't really matter to us," Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. "It's not something we have a whole lot of of input in … It's not always based on your numbers. It's also based on other schools' growth. We knew our numbers were a little higher, so we'd likely stay in 3A.
It's interesting to play new teams as long as the travel is not too bad … It's not overly tough. There's a give and a take."
Click here to view the 2010-2012 AHSAA Football Alignments. Click here to view the 2010-2012 AHSAA Basketball Alignments.