TRM and WSN both in 3A (updated)
Published 3:40 pm Friday, November 18, 2011
W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller will compete in the same region in football next year, with the Eagles dropping down to 3A thanks to enrollment changes.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association announced its realignment on Wednesday, and W.S. Neal will join 3A Region 1, which includes Opp, Bayside Academy, Cottage Hill, Excel, Southside Selma, Straughn and Miller.
Next year’s Battle of Murder Creek will mark the first time since the 2007 that T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal have been in the same region. Both were Class 4A at the time.
Reclassification is done according to school enrollment every two years.
W.S. Neal Coach Doug Hoehn said the reclassification will make the Battle of Murder Creek even better. “It’s a great rivalry,” he said.
Neal has been in 4A for two years, playing powerhouses like Thomasville, Jackson and UMS-Wright.
Hoehn, who has coached in Alabama for just one year, said he expects the competition to be tough in 3A as well.
“I expect our opponents to be very good,” he said. “I expect this classification and region to be a tough region to play in also. I think we will benefit travel-wise, also.”
T.R. Miller Tiger head coach Jamie Riggs said his team’s region has seen a lot of changes recently after reclassification numbers have been released.
“We go through this every two years,” Riggs said. “Our region changes a lot. (Miller) and Bayside have kind of stayed, and then other people have come in and out all the time.”
Riggs does not expect travel to be a problem for the Tigers, although Southside Selma — which is about 80 miles from its nearest opponent — will have farther to go than the other schools.
“A lot of people talk about travel but in this region down here you are always going to have to travel,” Riggs said. “So, it could be a lot of farther than it really is. And we are going to have to always travel to get games.
Riggs said he expects scheduling to be done early next month.
“Some of these folks are folks we played before down through the years. So it should make for a very interesting region,” he said.
For the Tigers, only Excel and Bayside Academy stay in the region with the Tigers while all teams will be new to the Eagles of East Brewton. Old 3A Region 1 Clarke County went to 4A, while Montgomery Academy dropped to 2A along with Washington County. Montgomery Catholic and Trinity stayed 3A, but went to another region.
W.S. Neal’s old 4A region 1 teams — B.C. Rain, Jackson and Saraland — all went 5A, while Atmore, Monroe County, Thomasville and UMS-Wright stayed 4A.
Southside Selma, which finished 1-9 this year on the field but 2-8 after getting a forfeit win in Class 4A region 4, is the farthest school in the region. Bayside finished 11-1 in Class 3A, losing the second round of the playoffs after going undefeated in the regular season. Bayside won the region championship.
Straughn — also moving down from 4A — was 6-5, and Opp was 6-5 in 3A. Cottage Hill finished 4-6 in 2A, and Excel was 3-7 in 3A.
Although there had been talk of adding a “superclass” above 6A, schools will remain divided into six classifications for competition in championship programs. The current two-year classification period ends with the 2011-12 school year. The new alignments will go into effect in the fall 2012.
Classification was based on the average daily membership figures furnished by the state Department of Education for the upper three grades (10-12) plus ninth grade holdbacks. Schools with the largest enrollments are placed in Class 6A, the next largest in Class 5A, etc.
Alignments are made for each sport in each class, based on the number of schools participating in a sport.
In basketball for T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal, both teams will compete in area 1 with each other and Bayside Academy and Cottage Hill. Other sports alignments will be announced later.
Neither Hoehn nor Riggs could not comment on scheduling yet because those meetings have not yet been held.
Usually, the Battle of Murder Creek between W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller is held in week 10, but because both teams are in the same region, the game would have to be played no later than week nine. Both Hoehn and Riggs said the game would be played, but a date has not been set.
In the last reclassification, T.R. Miller was the 26th largest school out of 66. This year, the school is ranked 40th out of 67, with a student count decreasing from 274 to 256.
W.S. Neal was last reclassified as the 49th largest school in 4A out of 64 schools and is now the 16th biggest 3A school out of 67 schools, with its last student count at 329 and a student count now at 292.
Enrollment numbers are based on the average attendance for 10th-12th graders and ninth grade holdbacks.
Kerry Whipple Bean also contributed to this story.