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Region proposal renews Augusta-area rivalries
EC vs. SE

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON — The athletic teams of Effingham County and South Effingham could become reacquainted with some old foes.

On Nov. 11, the Georgia High School Association, the governing body of the state’s prep sports, announced classifications of its members based on enrollment, producing some proposed changes in region alignment for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

Lateral appeals within the classifications will be heard by the GHSA on Thursday.

ECHS and SEHS remained in Class AAAAAA and the proposed new Region 2 paired the Rebels and Mustangs with region newcomers Evans, Lakeside (Evans) and Grovetown along with Brunswick and Glynn Academy.

Former members Richmond Hill moved up to AAAAAAA and Statesboro and Bradwell Institute dropped to AAAAA.

“With Lakeside (Evans) and Evans, we have established healthy relationships and we’re excited about being with them,” ECHS athletic director Matt Huntley said. “I’ve already talked to their ADs and I think we’re all looking forward to good, healthy, competitive battles for our teams.”

“I think as a whole it’s going to be exciting,” SEHS athletic director Nick Smith said. “We’ll be playing some teams we haven’t played in awhile.”

The Rebels and Mustangs last competed in a region with Augusta-area schools — then Evans, Lakeside and Greenbrier — during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. All five schools, along with Statesboro, resided in Class AAAA’s Region 2 (B).

Within the last four years, ECHS has had non-region football games with Grovetown (2020), Lakeside (2018 playoffs, 2020, 2021) and Evans (2018, 2019).

And other Rebel teams are very familiar with Evans. The boys basketball team played in Evans’ season-opening tournament a year ago before tangling with the Knights in the first round of the state tournament a few months later.

And ECHS’ baseball team had home-and-away games with Evans last spring.

Huntley and Smith said travel concerns will have to be worked out. The GHSA restricts schools from playing on school nights if they are more than 100 miles (one way) apart. According to mapquest, ECHS and Evans are 106 miles apart. SEHS and Evans are 118 miles apart.

“It’ll be a challenge to come up with schedules, but we’ve been brainstorming and we’ll figure out a plan,” Huntley said.