ECHS, JUB stay put as regions undergo shake-ups
By JOSH FRYE
Escambia County High and J.U. Blacksher will not change fall sports classifications following the December 17 release of the biennial AHSAA reclassification report.
Reclassification for the 2020-2022 school years is based on the attendance of students in grades 9-11 for the 20 days after Labor Day. Some schools were reclassified because of the AHSAA’s competitive balance rule, implemented two years ago to prevent schools from building up sports “dynasties.”
A re-alignment for winter and spring sports has been scheduled for next year.
Escambia County’s enrollment number of 274.75 ended any hopes of moving into another classification. The school will remain in Class 4A-Region 1, but three of the league’s top powers will vacate the region.
UMS-Wright, which has won three straight 4A state titles and 33 games in a row, and Andalusia, which has lost to UMS Wright in the Class 4A semifinals the past four years, moved up to 5A.
Hillcrest-Evergreen, which won the Class 3A state championship in 2017, will drop back to Class 3A after making the postseason in each of the two years the school spent in 4A.
The new Region 1 roster includes ECHS, Jackson, Mobile Christian, St. Michael Catholic, Vigor, Williamson and W.S. Neal. ECHS, Williamson and Neal are the only holdovers from last year’s region mix.
“We got rid of two tough opponents, and four were added,” ECHS football head coach Scott Mason said. “We are now in a seven-team region. Vigor, Mobile-Christian, Jackson and St. Michaels were added, and they are all tough schools to compete against. Our game plan for next season will stay the same with the exception of stepping up offensive play calling.
“We have our work cut out for us, but I do have experience in facing all of these schools. Instead of things getting easier, they just got tougher.”
For the Bulldogs, the situation is similar. The school remained in Class 2A-Region 1 with an enrollment number of 177.80.
However, the Bulldogs will also see a slew of new opponents next season.
Clarke County, Orange Beach, Greene County, St. Luke’s Episcopal, Washington County and perennial region power Leroy will round out the league. All but Leroy and Washington County are newcomers to the region.
“They added some new schools to the mix,” said JUB football head coach Wes Sims. “We have never played some of these schools before, so that will be a new challenge. Competitive levels will pretty much stay the same, and we will continue with our normal game plan. It adds some excitement and shakes things up a bit.”
A number of Alabama schools were affected by the reclassification. Schools moved up and down according to enrollment numbers, and a number of teams were required to reclassify because of the competitive balance rule that was set in place two years ago by the association.
Other notable changes that took place during the reclassification were the moves of Monroe County, Cottage Hill and Reeltown into 3A, where Flomaton remains.
Note: Staff writer Don Fletcher contributed to this article.