JAUDON SPORTS: Imagining conference realignment for 15 Savannah high school football programs

Benedictine celebrates their State Football Title.
Benedictine celebrates their State Football Title.

As the college football and basketball worlds are wrestling with inevitable conference expansion and realignment, I figured I would stick to that theme and bring Savannah high school sports into the realignment realm. In the spirit of the SEC (Texas and Oklahoma) and Big Ten (USC and UCLA) expansions, I too have based my realignment on football, the biggest and most popular sport for most of the schools in our area.

Unlike the college conference changes, my conferences are merely hypothetical. It’ll never happen because schools obviously must play in their assigned region in order to be eligible for region and state championships (the holy grails for high school football programs, as you know).

Many Savannah high schools will be playing in new regions this fall after the Georgia High School Association’s bi-annual reclassifications shuffled things up considerably last year.

Schools are placed into classes and regions by the GHSA based on the number of students attending the school and the school’s location relative to other schools of its size. But Savannah’s high schools have long been difficult to classify. The city’s unique number of private schools offer student-athletes the opportunity to learn and compete at private schools outside of their defined district, rather than attending the public school assigned to them based on their home address.

Until this upcoming season, the city’s GHSA private school trio of Savannah Christian, Savannah Country Day and Calvary Day had never played in the same region as the city’s public schools.

The Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) high schools (there are eight with football programs) tend to be much more competitive on the basketball court than they are on the gridiron, and this creates lopsided games on regular season Friday nights and bad performances by Savannah as a whole come state playoff time.

So, what would it look like if the city was split into divisions (or conferences) of only Savannah schools? I have long thought about the same thing. This seemed like as good a time as any to put those thoughts down on paper.

Below are my ideal conferences for the 15 Savannah high schools with football programs, along with the regions they’ll be competing in beginning this fall.


CONFERENCE A

Jenkins (1-5A), Benedictine (3-4A), Savannah Christian (3-3A), Savannah Country Day (3-3A), Calvary Day (3-3A)

It’s no secret that Benedictine is the premium football program in Savannah, and last year’s state championship (head coach Danny Britt’s third title at BC) further widened the gap between the Cadets and everyone else. Still, if Benedictine is already playing Savannah schools like Jenkins and New Hampstead regularly, why couldn’t they play smaller football bluebloods like Savannah Christian and Calvary Day? Rest assured, a Benedictine versus Calvary Day regular season game in this city would generate plenty of excitement (and plenty of revenue) for fans on both sides. Jenkins is generally considered the top public school program, so placing the Warriors in with the city’s best private schools would be fun to watch.


CONFERENCE B

New Hampstead (3-4A), Islands (3-4A), Johnson (3-3A), Beach (3-3A), Windsor Forest (3-2A)

I firmly believe the Islands and New Hampstead rivalry could continue to flourish if the two newest SCCPSS teams (both started in 2014) can play each other annually in games that actually matter come season’s end. Johnson, Beach and Windsor Forest tend to have ups-and-downs on the football field, but each has had successful seasons in recent years and have the student numbers to do much more than compete.


CONFERENCE C

Groves (3-3A), Savannah High (3-A DI), St. Andrew’s (GIAA), Memorial Day (GIAA), Bethesda Academy (SCISA)

For far too long, Groves and Savannah High have been forced to play in regions which really don’t seem fair given their football participation numbers. Instead of playing against schools with two to three times as many players, doesn’t it make more sense to have them play against teams they can actually compete with?


SPORTS NOTES

Jorge Masvidal’s iKON FC4 professional mixed martial arts fight card is set for August 5th at the Savannah Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom. Mavidal, 37, is the UFC superstar turned promoter with an impressive 35-16-0 record (16 knockouts). He recently appeared at a Savannah Bananas game to help promote the event, which features 10 fights on the card, headlined by a main event of Amun Cosme (4-0) versus Diego Gomez Manzur (5-0). The Grand Ballroom at the SCC will have a capacity of roughly 2,000 when the first fight begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 for general admission and are on sale at ikonfc.com.

The 150th British Open is set to begin on Thursday, July 14 at the St. Andrews’ Old Course in Fife, Scotland. This means it’s a good time to remind all Americans that despite what the Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrew’s says, it is not “The Open.” Beginning in the early 2000’s, the R&A began requesting that its American broadcast partners (NBC/ESPN at that time) refrain from saying “The British Open” on the air, and instead refer to it as simply “The Open Championship.” Now, in recent years, they’ve shortened it even further, calling it “The Open.” Thanks to the Revolutionary War (the USA won in lopsided fashion you’ll remember), Americans don’t have to take their cues from the Brits. They aren’t the only “Open” in town anymore and it’ll be “The British Open” to me forevermore.

FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com. Listen to him host Hot Grits Podcast, Savannah’s No. 1 sports podcast, with new episodes released each Tuesday.

About The Author

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon has been writing in Savannah since 2016 and is host of Hot Grits Podcast.
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