PREPS: Calvary 'Stays' in Class 3A, BC Back to 4A, SCPS and SCDS to 1A

JAUDON SPORTS: GHSA reclassification news means end of an era, start of another

In September, I wrote about the upcoming reclassification meetings at a certain athletic association in Thomaston, Georgia. I thought at that time things were getting ready to change for high school athletics in Savannah. I especially thought the private schools - Benedictine, Calvary Day, Savannah Christian and Savannah Country Day - were in for fairly dramatic changes.

I said, “As far as Savannah schools are concerned, the results of reclassification can potentially influence…high school sports over the next several years. And around here, it’s never as simple as one school being bigger or smaller than another."  

Well, here we are.

The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) will hold appeal meetings on Thursday, Nov. 9, for member schools appealing classification placement, set to be in place for two full years (fall 2024 - spring 2026). Currently, 7A is the highest classification, but 6A will be the highest starting in the fall of 2024. This means many schools simply shifted “down” one class in the latest reclass cycle. It’s not quite that simple, however. More on that to come...

First, another important change is coming. The private schools competing in classes 3A-1A will play for their own state title, separate from public schools beginning next fall. Public and private schools will play together during the regular season. This means a private school in 1A-DI could wind up playing a private school in 3A at any point during the state playoffs. One bracket for every private school in Class 3A and below. Power ratings – it’s unclear how the ratings will be determined – will be used to seed schools in the 3A-1A bracket.

According to the GHSA, the primary reason for reclassification every two years is to adjust for its 450 plus member schools shifting enrollment numbers. When reclassifying, the GHSA uses adjusted enrollment numbers, taking into account “out-of-zone” students attending a school different from the one they’re assigned to based on where they live. Private schools often have many more of these students, and each of these students are “multiplied” to count as more than just one. Another multiplier is used for single-gender schools, like Benedictine. See enrollment numbers for every area school below.

click to enlarge PREPS: Calvary 'Stays' in Class 3A, BC Back to 4A, SCPS and SCDS to 1A (3)
[BC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS]

While the GHSA does not release which schools are appealing before the hearings on Thursday, the majority of news for Savannah high school sports fans tracking their school’s on-paper movement is already here.

  • Benedictine was moved “down” to 3A originally. But, instead, the Cadets will remain in Class 4A after requesting (and getting) a move “up.” This notably keeps BC out of the 1A-3A private school bracket, where the city’s other three private schools – Country Day, Calvary Day, Savannah Christian – are playing postseason. The only Savannah area schools in Class 4A are BC and New Hampstead.
  • Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) schools are trying to get as many together as possible. For both travel and rivalry reasons, that’s a good thing. It makes tons of sense. Windsor Forest, Beach and Johnson were classified in 2A before requesting a move up to 3A. That trio, combined with Jenkins (down from 5A to 3A) and Islands (4A to 3A) means that we could again see an All-Savannah region 3-3A. Along with the five schools just mentioned, Groves is also in 3A.
  • Savannah’s private school trio of Calvary Day, Savannah Christian and Savannah Country Day will likely wind up not playing together in a region for the first time in a long time. While SCPS (currently in 3A) and SCDS (3A) were moved down to 1A-DI, Calvary Day was placed in Class 2A. With the departure of Johnson, Windsor Forest and Beach in the days after the placement, the Cavs were alone as the only school in the city in 2A.
It would be natural to assume Calvary is appealing to move down on Thursday. "Natural" because that puts it where SCPS and SCDS will be, and I thought (still do) the trio to be stronger together. SCDS is not appealing. The Hornets are staying in 1A (Country Day Athletics Director Kenny Conroy confirmed this through text message Wednesday morning). SCPS is unlikely to appeal. But Calvary, instead of moving down or remaining in 2A, is moving “up” to Class 3A. This according to a Nov. 7 press release from Calvary higher-ups.

"Calvary Day School, a leading educational institution known for its dedication to both Christian academic excellence and co-curricular achievement, is pleased to announce its intention to petition the (GHSA) for reclassification to 3A for its athletic programs in 2024," the press release states. "Although Calvary Day School's current enrollment falls within the 1A enrollment guidelines, the school is motivated by the belief that reclassification to 3A will be in the best interest of its student-athletes, allowing them to excel in both the classroom and on the field while reducing travel time."

Calvary wasn't aware of Benedictine's move to 4A at the time of its appeal and subsequent press release. The CDS statement actually mentions BC by name.

"Playing in the 3A classification offers several advantages to Calvary Day School and its student-athletes. It provides the opportunity to compete against local teams...The move to 3A will allow Calvary Day School to face off against esteemed local opponents, including Benedictine, Jenkins, and Southeast Bulloch, who have also been placed in the 3A classification."

If Calvary and Savannah Christian hope to renew their storied rivalry on the football field and across all sports, the two will need to schedule each other in non-region games for 2024-25 and 2025-26. The same is true for Country Day and Calvary.

Any appeals will be finalized in the hours following the GHSA meeting on Thursday afternoon. From there, classifications will be split into eight regions each. By the end of the month, schools will have a nearly complete view of what the next two years look like. Once they do, coaches can start building future schedules based on how many region opponents they’ll have and therefore how many non-region games they’ll need.

SAVANNAH AREA SCHOOLS MOVING “UP”
Benedictine: 3A to 4A
Windsor Forest: 2A to 3A
Beach: 2A to 3A
Johnson: 2A to 3A
Calvary Day: 2A to 3A (appeal pending)

ENROLLMENT FIGURES
(New Class is the class assigned by the GHSA on Nov. 1 and before any appeals or moves “up.” Enrollment number includes multipliers for out-of-zone students and/or single-gender schools.)

Effingham County
Current Class/New Class – 6A/6A
Enrollment – 2,250

Richmond Hill
Current Class/New Class – 7A/6A
Enrollment – 2,720

South Effingham
Current Class/New Class – 6A/5A
Enrollment – 1,992

New Hampstead
Current Class/New Class – 4A/4A
Enrollment – 1,535

Jenkins
Current Class/New Class – 5A/3A
Enrollment – 1,361

Benedictine
Current Class/New Class – 4A/3A
Enrollment – 1,226

Groves
Current Class/New Class – 3A/3A
Enrollment – 1,228

Islands
Current Class/New Class – 4A/3A
Enrollment – 1,206

Johnson
Current Class/New Class – 3A/2A
Enrollment – 1,009

Windsor Forest
Current Class/New Class – 2A/2A
Enrollment – 1,095

Beach
Current Class/New Class – 3A/2A
Enrollment – 1,012

Calvary Day
Current Class/New Class – 3A/2A
Enrollment – 978

Savannah High
Current Class/New Class – 1A DI/1A DI
Enrollment – 703

Savannah Country Day
Current Class/New Class – 3A/1A DI
Enrollment – 642

Woodville-Tompkins
Current Class/New Class – 1A DI/1A DI
Enrollment – 706

Savannah Christian
Current Class/New Class – 3A/1A DI
Enrollment – 666

Bryan County
Current Class/New Class – 1A DI/1A DI
Enrollment – 567

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a general assignment reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and host of Hot Grits Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram, @JaudonSports. [email protected]


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