Both local high school football programs will see significant region shifts after the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association recently announced new classifications and regions for the 2021-25 seasons.
Richland High School will be moving up to 2A after the school had previously been the largest 1A school at the time of the last reclassification. The classification jump will mean the end of several region rivalries, as Cornersville, Moore County, Fayetteville City and Huntland remain in 1A. Mt. Pleasant will join Richland in Region 5-AA along with Cascade, Forrest, Loretto and Summertown.
With an enrollment of 377, Richland is the second smallest 2A school in football, with only three more students than the largest 1A school.
“I think it’s a good region we’re moving into,” RHS head coach Nick Patterson said. “We already play Summertown and some of those schools anyway. I feel like we fit in there, and I think in the long run, it’s going to be a good move for us. I think there are some good teams in it, but we’re coming out of the toughest 1A region in Tennessee. I had a coach come in the other day and tell me it was the SEC of 1A Tennessee High School football, and I think that’s true. I think that prepared us well to make the move up and be able to compete week in and week out.”
Patterson added that he and Cornersville head coach Gerard Randolph have already spoken about the possibility of continuing the Battle of Buford Station rivalry in non-region play, while the RHS coach added he could see other former region rivals appearing on future Richland schedules as well.
The Raiders’ new region opponents finished a combined 20-30 overall in the regular season with only Forrest and Cascade advancing to the postseason.
Giles County High School was the recipient of another puzzling region realignment in football as the Bobcats will remain in Class 3A but play a new suite of opponents, many of which are distant geographically.
Many local fans and coaches were surprised during the last realignment when the Bobcats found themselves in the midst of a region inhabited solely by Nashville metro schools. Coach David O’Connor said he was just as surprised to now be in a region with Cannon County, Sequatchie County, Community and Grundy County with an average road trip of roughly 90 miles.
“I was blindsided by it all to be honest with you,” O’Connor said. “It’s just as odd for us to be driving all the way over to north of Chattanooga to play Sequatchie. I was really thinking we’d be back in the region with Fairview, Cheatham County, Creekwood, those guys.”
The Bobcats’ current region will be broken up with Pearl-Cohn electing to voluntarily advance to Class 4A, while White’s Creek and RePublic will be split from East Nashville and Stratford.
Giles County’s four new opponents posted a combined record of 6-33 this year with only Grundy County advancing to the postseason.
While O’Connor agreed the regular season will most likely be easier in the new region without the likes of Pearl-Cohn, East Nashville and Stratford, he noted it might lead to the early playoff rounds proving more difficult.
The Bobcats’ enrollment of 700 places the program as the 15th largest school in Class 3A, GCHS was previously the second largest school in 3A during the most recent reclassification.
However, high school football is not the only sport that will see significant realignment.
In basketball, baseball and softball, the Bobcats and Lady Bobcats will find themselves in District 10-AA with three teams new to the classification. Summertown, Loretto and Mt. Pleasant have all been reclassified in 2A, while Lewis County will serve as the fifth member of the district.
Current district opponents Marshall County and Murfreesboro Central Magnet will advance to 3A, while Nolensville is a member of the newly minted 4A classification which will be added for basketball, baseball and softball in the 2021-22 school year. Giles County is the largest Class 2A school with only two fewer students than the smallest 3A school.
Richland, meanwhile, will remain in Class 1A with a similar District 10-A makeup of Santa Fe, Hampshire and Culleoka, while adding Wayne County and Collinwood in place of Mt. Pleasant.
In soccer, RHS will now play in District 10-A with Fayetteville City, Culleoka, Cornersville and
Giles County will play a nearly identical District 11-AA alignment to the current iteration in soccer with Lincoln County taking the place of Nolensville. The district will include Giles, Page, Spring Hill, Lincoln County, Lawrence County, Marshall County, Tullahoma and Murfreesboro Central Magnet.
For more information on enrollment figures and new classification and region alignments, visit tssaa.org.