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Schools, coaches deal with reclassification

That loud groan you hear is coming from area athleticdepartments which house area coaches. The Mississippi High SchoolActivities Association recently released its proposedclassifications for the 2007-09 school years.

For the unknowing reader, school classification is based onprojected student enrollment in grades 9-12. In other words,representatives from the state department of education count heads(students) every two years at each school, do some addition andachieve an enrollment number.

If you like numbers, consider these. In Class 5A, the MHSAA’slargest classification, the enrollment ranges from the highest of2,481 students at Harrison Central to 1104 at Hancock, the 32ndschool.

In Class 4A, Vicksburg, dropping from a long residence in Class5A, tops the group of 56 with 1,088 students. The smallest is YazooCounty with 556 students. In between are Brookhaven (850), rankingNo. 19; McComb (800) at No. 24 and Lawrence County (648) at No.40.

Enrollment usually determines the size of a football team andoften the level of success. Wayne County, the latest 4A statechampion, has 1,075 students projected for the next two years. WestPoint, the 2005 state champion, has 1,010 students.

However, a larger enrollment doesn’t guarantee gridiron success.Clarksdale (772) is an annual title contender. Brookhaven won itall in 2004. Lawrence County brought home the title in 1999 andMcComb prevailed in 2000.

In Class 3A, Amory tops the projected enrollment with 554students. Smallest is Velma Jackson with 370. Franklin County (422)won it all this year in football and Nettleton (373) was runner-up.Hazlehurst (488) won the 2005 state title.

In Class 2A, Water Valley (369) is the top enrollment and EastUnion (219) is the smallest. In the local mix you have Loyd Star(295), Wesson (279) and Enterprise-Lincoln (233).

In Class 1A, Calhoun City tops the mountain with 217 studentsand Sacred Heart (48) of Hattiesburg is the smallest competing inathletics. Mississippi School for the Blind has the smallestenrollment, with 29 students.

In the local 1A mix are West Lincoln (189), Bogue Chitto (237),Salem (144), Natchez Cathedral (173) and Dexter (85).

And then then there are regions. Class 5A has 4 regions, with 8teams to a region. Class 4A has 8 regions, with 7 schools to aregion. The exception is Region 3 which has 8 schools.

Class 3A has 8 regions. Six of them have 7 schools and 2 othershave 6 and 8 respectively.

Class 2A also has 8 regions. Seven of them each have 6 schoolsand the other has 7.

In Class 1A, there are 4 regions. Three of them have 11 schoolsand one has 10.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

In case you haven’t fallen asleep in your recliner by now, theregion situation will receive some more explanation. The area scenein 4A is Region 6. Terry has been replaced by Forest Hill ofJackson, a strong basketball school but an also-ran infootball.

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey said he is picking up NorthPike for the 2007 football schedule. The Class 3A Jaguars (543)almost were promoted to 4A in the latest reclassification.

Peavey said he plans to retain Class 5A Clinton and 3A SouthPike on the menu. Unfortunately, Franklin County couldn’t beaccommodated.

The new Region 7-3A group finds Amite County and JeffersonCounty moving from 6-3A. Franklin County, North Pike, South Pike,Tylertown and Wilkinson County remain members.

In Region 6-3A, Hazlehurst and Crystal Springs will tackle somenew foes, including Collins. Also in the mix are Jackson Bailey,Magee, Raymond and Richland.

Enterprise-Lincoln and McLaurin are newcomers to Region 6-2A.The Fighting Yellow Jackets and Tigers join Wesson, Loyd Star,Hinds AHS, St. Andrew’s and Madison St. Joe.

Region 4-1A resembles the Southeastern Conference. Class 1Astate champion Puckett has joined the group, along withPelahatchie, Pisgah and Vicksburg St. Aloysius. Absent are BiloxiMercy Cross and Gulfport St. John who merged to become Class 2A St.Patrick on the coast. Holdovers are Bogue Chitto, West Lincoln,Cathedral, Dexter, Salem, Mt. Olive and Stringer.

That means 10 region games and only one open date. For example,West Lincoln will face former region foe Enterprise in its seasonopener, since both had identical open dates.

According to Enterprise head coach Roe Burns, the Jackets lostlongtime rival Bogue Chitto due to reclassification. Burns alsobemoaned the fact that many old rivalries were history. Travel isup and the gate receipts are down.

Apparently, schools will have to bite the bullet for two years,at least until the MHSAA reclassifies and realigns its membersagain.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com