AHSAA announces classifications, alignments for next two years

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

All seven Chilton County area high schools learned their fate for the next two years after the classifications for AHSAA fall sports were announced on Dec. 18.

The AHSAA Central Board of Control unanimously approved the same seven-classification system that has been in place since the 2014-2015 school year. The classifications will be in effect for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 school years with the board holding reclassification for all member schools every two years.

“This new classification and fall sport recommendations came after many hours of study and discussion. Everyone involved gave of their valuable time to evaluate our classification system thoroughly and provided input in ways to improve that system,” Mike Welsh, Central Board of Control President, said in a press release from the AHSAA. “On behalf of the Central Board of Control and our member schools, I want to thank AHSAA staff for their hard work. I also want to thank our Central Board for their commitment to making decisions that are best for all of our member schools.”

Classification is based on Average Daily Membership figures furnished by the State Department of Education for public schools for grades nine through 11, plus eighth grade hold-back students. The new classifications placed a total of 420 member schools, with Chilton County’s most populated class, Class 1A, having the most with 76 schools.

The new football alignment places the 32 largest high schools in the state in Class 7A, followed by 57 in Class 6A, 56 in Class 5A, 62 in Class 4A, 60 in Class 3A, 60 in Class 2A and 62 in Class 1A. More than 190,000 student athletes are expected to participate in AHSAA sports during the next classification period, according to AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs.

Out of the seven Chilton County area high schools, Thorsby High School is the only school moving classifications, jumping from Class 2A to Class 3A. The Rebels will play Class 3A football for the first time since the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. It will also be head coach Daryl Davis’ first time coaching Class 3A football.

“It is new to me, and you just continue to do the things we were successful at,” Davis said. “We really do not know anything about any of the schools that we are going to be playing … It is still the unknown.”

Thorsby will compete in Region 3 with only one school, Thomasville High School, finishing with a better record than the Rebels’ 9-3 season. Other schools in Region 3 are Dallas County, Greensboro, Hale County Southside Selma, Sumter Central and Wilcox Central high schools.

With seniors returning in 2024 at key positions like quarterback Grayson McManus and linebacker Malachi Allgood, Thorsby will look to lean on the upperclassmen to help smooth the transition to Class 3A.

“It is huge any time you have a good group of seniors coming back, similar to what we had this year,” Davis said. “Having your quarterback and your quarterback on defense too, two important guys that will help us get ready for 3A. All of our seniors next year will be big (for us.)”

Isabella High School, which was previously in Thorsby’s region, remained in Class 2A but was switched to Region 5 for the first time since 2014. The Mustangs will be joined by Aliceville, Greene County, Lamar County, Sulligent, Tuscaloosa Academy and Vincent high schools in the region, all Class 2A returners.

Chilton County High School remained in Class 6A, Region 3, but were joined by Spain Park and Chelsea high schools who are stepping down from Class 7A. The Tigers will also compete with familiar foes Benjamin Russell, Calera, Helena and Pelham high school in region play.

Jemison High School held steady in Class 5A, Region 3 and will welcome Montevallo, Northside and Sipsey Valley high schools to Class 5A after the three schools were raised from Class 4A. Demopolis, Selma and Shelby County high schools will also compete in the Panthers’ region.

Class 1A, Region 4 will feature three Chilton County area high schools in Billingsley, Maplesville and Verbena high schools. The three schools shared the region with each other in years past, but they will be joined by newcomers to the region Autauga Academy, Ellwood Christian Academy and Keith High School. Region veterans Autaugaville and Notasulga high schools round out the programs in the region.

The classifications and areas for volleyball were announced on Dec. 18 as well. Chilton County will compete in Class 6A Area 5 with Benjamin Russell and Calera. Jemison is set to compete in Class 5A Area 5 with Demopolis, Montevallo and Selma. Thorsby’s rise to Class 3A, Area 5 will square them off with Alabama Christian Academy and Dallas County.

Isabella sits in Class 2A Area 6 competing with the Alabama Aerospace and Aviation High School, Greene County and Tuscaloosa Academy. Maplesville and Billingsley were placed in Class 1A Area 7 with Breakthrough Charter School and Francis Marion High School. Verbena moves to Class 1A Area 6 with Autauga Academy, Autaugaville and Notasulga.

Classifications and alignments released on Dec. 18 were for fall sports starting in the 2024-2025 school year. Winter and spring sports alignment will be determined following the completion of the seasons during the 2023-2024 school year.