Published 1:37 am Wednesday, November 23, 2005
For those local football fans who thought their triple digit road trips during the region season ended with last week's classification realignment, guess again.
Alabama School for the Deaf's decision to pull out of the Alabama High School Athletic Association has caused a domino effect that has changed some member schools classification and caused some regions to realign.
Classification changes include Benjamin Russell from 6A to 5A, Central-Tuscaloosa from 5A to 4A, Geneva from 4A to 3A, Westminster Christian from 3A to 2A and Linden from 2A to 1A.
T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal had been assigned to Class 4A Region 1 along with Andalusia, Hillcrest-Evergreen, Escambia County, Monroe County, Thomasville and Jackson.
The latest change has taken Andalusia out Region 1 and placed in Region 2 with Alabama Christian, Ashford, Bullock County, Daleville, Opp, St. James and Trinity Presbyterian. Andalusia has been replaced by Southside-Selma in Region 1.
W.S. Neal coach Blaine Hathcock understands the domino effect, but was shocked by the decision to remove Andalusia and replace it with Southside-Selma.
"We had a school 45 miles away from us and now it's been replaced by one 150 miles away. It just makes no sense. Sometimes the state makes decisions that are hard to figure out," Hathcock said.
The reclassification and region realignment threw a big wrench into W.S. Neal's non-region schedule for next season. The Blue Eagles had tentative non-region games scheduled with Escambia County, Monroe County and Hillcrest-Evergreen. Now those games have become region games.
"I had hoped we had that part of our schedule done, but we're back at square one when it comes to finding non-region games," Hathcock said. "I knew the possibility was there we might go to 4A and one or two of those schools might become region games. I never dreamed we would lose all three non-region dates," Hathcock said.
Hillcrest-Evergreen and Escambia County are 30-mile trips, while Monroe County is 40 miles. Hathcock said it will be tough to find three more non-region opponents that are close.
"I'd like to find teams that are within 75 miles, preferably 50 but there aren't a lot of choices. We might take a look at playing some Florida schools that would be closer for us although I would prefer to play Alabama teams," Hathcock said.
T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs also has work to do with his non-region schedule although maybe not as much now as once feared.
The Tigers are currently playing Escambia County, Andalusia and Jay (Fla.) in non-region play. Escambia County will have to be replaced since it will become a region game. T.R. Miller also figured to have to replace Andalusia, but that was before the state's decision to pull Andalusia out of Region 1. Riggs indicated he is unsure of the status of the Jay series, which began in the 2003 season. No extension has been made with Jay beyond this season.
"We've got a couple of schools we're looking at, but nothing official yet," Riggs said. “My first priorities are to fill week one and five. If we have to be idle a week, I'd much rather have it be week 10.
T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal's basketball Area realignment has not changed. Both remain in Area 2 with Andalusia and Hillcrest-Evergreen.