WSN likely to stay in 4A; TRM sitting on 3A-4A fence

Published 6:36 am Wednesday, August 15, 2007

By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
There probably will not be much suspense for W.S. Neal High School when the Alabama High School Athletic Association announces its reclassification for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years in a few weeks. T.R. Miller is a different story.
W.S. Neal appears to be pretty much locked into another two-year stint in Class 4A, while T.R. Miller appears to be clearly sitting on the fence between Class 3A and Class 4A.
The state's count is based on a school's enrollment of sophomores through seniors plus carryover freshmen. The official count will be done after 40 school days, which for both T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal will be in the first week of October.
Early enrollment figures at W.S. Neal reported a total enrollment of 445 students. That figure includes 94 seniors, 106 juniors, 105 sophomores and 140 freshmen. The freshmen count includes 12 repeat freshmen. Those numbers give W.S. Neal a state count of 317 students.
Meanwhile enrollment at T.R. Miller is 390 total students. That includes 96 seniors, 84 juniors, 105 sophomores and 105 freshmen. The freshmen count includes three repeat freshmen. Those figures give T.R. Miller an enrollment count of 288 for AHSAA purposes.
When the AHSAA reclassified two years ago, Geneva was the largest school in Class 3A with a state count of 285 students. Hamilton was the smallest school in Class 4A at 288 students.
On the other side of Class 4A, Central-Tuscaloosa was the largest member at 398 students. UMS-Wright started the Class 5A count at 399 students.
Based on reclassification numbers two years ago, W.S. Neal's early school count would put it 38th among the 65 current schools in Class 4A. T.R. Miller would be tied with Hamilton for the 65th and final Class 4A spot.
T.R. Miller could find itself back in Class 3A where it competed from 2002-06 after a previous stint in Class 4A.
Another item disturbs Riggs more than being at a school that sits squarely on the bubble.
The current football Class 4A Region 1, which includes T.R. Miller, W.S. Neal, Escambia County, Monroe County, Southside-Selma, Jackson, Thomasville and Hillcrest-Evergreen, could undergo big changes in the new alignment.
W.S. Neal, Jackson, Thomasville and Southside-Selma appear to be the only schools that are soundly locked into Class 4A. Jackson's enrollment count was 349 two years ago, while Thomasville's was 320. Southside-Selma was at 374.
On the 3A side of the bubble, Hillcrest's count the last time was 301, just 16 students shy of 3A. On the 5A side of the fence, Escambia County's last count was 381, 18 students away from that classification, and Monroe County's last count was 387, just 12 students away from 5A. Monroe County had been in Class 5A until the last reclassification, while Escambia County was in Class 5A as recently as the end of the 2003-04 school year.
If W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller fall into different classes, it would likely shift the annual Battle of Murder Creek football from its current week nine slot to the last game of the regular season.