By R. Alan Richardson
All eyes are on Washington, DC and Atlanta as we await word on how long the lockdown will last. Questions surrounding the opening of schools and our favorite fall sports abound. Will Morgan County schools open on time? How will all of this affect fall sports (if at all)? What parameters will be put on fans and supporters wanting to attend these contests?
It’s not too long until those questions will be answered, and there’s hope from many that everything will go as planned. If and when things settle down, the Bulldog teams will be facing some new territory on the various playing fields and courts in 2020-21. There have been previous articles in the Morgan County Citizen concerning the new region and opponents. In a nutshell, Morgan’s teams will be competing in a new South Georgia Region 4-AAA. This is quite uncharted territory for the Morgan teams and faithful. According to some sports historians in the area, Morgan has competed in this region before.
Moving from the traditional North Georgia Region of 8-AAA has raised some concerns, but that is not the focus of this article. What we would like to do is draw some comparisons between the two regions, and ask some questions about how our teams might fare over the next two seasons. Certainly, some of the conclusions you might come to are completely conjecture. It really doesn’t matter until you lace up the cleats, put on the pads, and get after it. Here’s a look at how the Dogs did in 2019-20 in 8-AAA compared to how new 4-AAA opponents did in their respective regions.
A couple of things that pop out at you immediately are that 4-AAA for the next two seasons will be made up entirely of new teams. None of these teams competed in that region a year ago. Two teams competed in 4-AA while four others competed in 3-AAAA. The Dogs are the only AAA team from a year ago. The second note of interest comes from the Georgia Athletic Director’s Association and their Director’s cup standings. These standings are comprised from points accumulated throughout the school year and how all sports (boys and girls) did at the region and state level competitions. Total points accumulated give a thumbnail sketch of which schools were most dominant in their respective regions.
There were five teams from 8-AAA that finished in the top 20 in points in the Director’s Cup in AAA overall. They were Jefferson at number one with 777 points (it wasn’t even close for number two), Hart County at number 12 with 351 points, Jackson County came in at number 17 with 307 edging out Morgan County at number 18 with 293 points, and Franklin County was number 19 with 266 points. Of all new opponents that will be participating in 4-AAA this year, none of those teams finished in the top 20 in either AA or AAAA overall. That should bode well for the Dogs. Although Jefferson will move up to AAAA this coming season, it will be a welcome relief to get away from the city school that dominated 8-AAA and the state in that division. The points are broken down by boys and girls on the GADA website. The only other group to make the top 20 was the Burke County boys.
A lot of eyes are on the fall ritual of high school football. Bulldog fans may be wondering what this new region will look like. So, let’s take a look at some of the teams and schools and make some comparisons. 4-AAA will be comprised of Morgan (8-AAA), Harlem (4-AA), Hephzibah (4-AA), Burke County (3-AAAA), Thomson (3-AAAA), Cross Creek (3-AAAA), Academy of Richmond County (ARC– 3-AAAA). Armchair quarterbacks could look at these schools and their success, or lack thereof, and possibly get a compass on how tough the new schedule might seem. Also, they might pose questions like, “Will it hurt teams that competed in AA a year ago to now have to go up against bigger schools that competed in AAA and AAAA in 2019?” The same might be asked about AAAA teams moving down. Will it help them at the region and state level to now be playing against smaller schools? Nobody really knows the answer to those questions, but it will be interesting to watch. See break down of each of the new 4-AAA opponents and how they fared in football last season.