AHSAA’s spring realignment was released this week, and with a number of other nearby schools changing classifications, it means sweeping changes for Sand Mountain teams that will face next spring.
In addition to the realignment changes, AHSAA also announced this week that football, baseball and softball will not transition to regional play during the regular season, but will continue with zones for at least one more season.
The biggest change to come from the realignment was the news that football’s 4/5A classification had split, with 4As and 5As now having their own individual classes. The move was applauded by many coaches after the combined rankings grew to over 80 teams due to the continuous addition of new teams over the past decade.
“We’ve been combined 4A/5A since at least I was coaching,” Guntersville coach Zach Ross said. “They’ve had so many schools with football now that they’ve finally gotten to the point where they’ve separated them. If you look at it, 4A and 5A had squads of around 80, where 1-3A has 35 at 40.”
This combined class resulted in 4/5A and 6A being the only classifications with 32 playoff teams, requiring teams to win five games to win the state championship, while all other classifications had 16-team brackets.
“4A/5A is such a tough road,” added Ross. “There are so many teams, you’re probably going to see about 40 teams in 5A… it’s going to be a little bit easier to make the playoffs and go far. It will be a little easier, hopefully, to go a little further and get more recognition.
With the split and fall of four teams in neighboring areas 6A to 5A, there has been a big move for the region’s boys’ and girls’ football teams.
Guntersville, along with Boaz and Crossville, slips into Zone 7 for football, which will be a six-team zone with Arab, Fairview and Scottsboro. Douglas was the odd Sand Mountain team left out of the area and instead slipping to Zone 6, which includes Lincoln, St. Clair County, Southside Gadsden and Springville.
Other notable changes to the spring realignment include:
The Guntersville and Boaz boys’ golf teams are now separate. Previously, the two were together in a section that only included three schools that had enough golfers to post team scores, ensuring an automatic trip to the sub-state round. Boaz slides to Section 3, which includes more teams from the Birmingham/Gadsden areas, while Guntersville is now in Section 4, with more teams up north, including Arab and Scottsboro.
Boas, Douglas and Sardis remain together in section play for the playoffs in boys and girls 4/5A tennis, while Guntersville, which had played in this section tournament the past two seasons, moves to a section further up north. Once again, the Wildcats will face Arab, Scottsboro, DAR and a number of Madison County schools in their new division.
Guntersville remains in a three-team zone for softball, but rather than facing Brewer and Fairview, the Wildcats will now face Crossville and Scottsboro in Zone 14. The addition of Crossville splits what had been a very tight Zone 13 the two previous years. Area 13 now becomes Boaz, Douglas, Sardes and Southside Gadsden, which slides into the area after dropping from 6A to 5A.
In 3A, Fyffe’s move from 3A to 2A allows Geraldine to move to her old location and Area 14 which also includes Asbury, Plainview, and Sylvania.
Fyffe’s new Zone 2A opponents are Collinsville, who also returned to 2A, Gaston and Sand Rock.
West End moves to a smaller three-team area, which includes Holly Pond and Cleveland.
Guntersville and Douglas slide to Area 15 in 5A play, joined by new 5A opponents Arab and Scottsboro. Douglas’ move to the zone splits the former Zone 13, which is now changing to a three-team zone, and will include Boaz, Crossville and Sardis.
Like softball, in 3A, Fyffe’s move from 3A to 2A allows Geraldine to move to her old position and into Zone 14 which also includes Asbury, Plainview and Sylvania.
Fyffe’s new Zone 2A opponents are in Zone 15, which includes Ider, North Sand Mountain, Pisgah and Section in a five-team zone.
For full maps and realignment changes, please see the AHSAA website.