After hearing 59 different appeals on Wednesday, Nov. 10, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has officially finalized which schools will be in which classification for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.
There are guaranteed changes to happen within Region 7-3A, that Dawson County is currently a part of. Cherokee Bluff and North Hall High School will both move up to 4A next season and after one season of existence, East Forsyth High School will also make the jump to 4A.
West Hall High School was scheduled to make the jump up to 4A alongside the other two Hall county schools, but their appeal to remain in 3A was approved. This leaves Dawson County, West Hall, Gilmer, White County and Lumpkin County as five teams remaining from Region 7-3A.
That being said, there could be no additions to the region, but still leaves the door open for one or two teams to join the Tigers’ region.
Pickens County High School
After making the move down from 4A to 3A, adding Pickens County to Region 7-3A is as close to a virtual lock as it can get. With Pickens County being only 23 miles from both Gilmer and Dawson County High School, it would be a miss to not add the Dragons to the region for the next two years.
So far this season, the Dragons finished their football season with a 4-5 record and lost to White County in the regular season. Their boys cross country team finished fourth in the state in 4A and the girls finished ninth. Their volleyball team made it to the 4A Elite Eight.
In 2020-2021, their girls basketball team made it to the elite eight with the boys team qualifying for the state tournament but losing in the first round. Additionally, the boys soccer team, girls tennis team and the wrestling team made the state tournament for the Dragons.
Ridgeland High School
Located in Rossville, Ga. Ridgeland High School joins Pickens as a Region 7-4A school that is dropping down to 3A.
Unlike Pickens, Ridgeland is not conveniently located next to any of the Region 7-3A schools. Rather, it is located very close to the Region 6-3A schools, like Coahulla Creek, North Murray and Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe. However, GHSA could want to move Pickens and Ridgeland down together.
Ridgeland’s football team finished 1-9 this season but their volleyball team advanced to the Sweet 16. Last season, only their volleyball and girls soccer team qualified for the state tournament, with both programs being eliminated in the first round.
Adairsville High School
Adairsville provides an interesting wild card for the GHSA. Region 6-7A lost Sonoraville (moving up to 4A) and Rockmart (moving down to 2A), which were by far the two closest schools in the region to Adairsville. If the region adds Ridgeland, Adairsville could be looking for a home in Region 7-3A.
Dawson County is 61 miles away from Adairsville, but Pickens and Gilmer are two of the three closest 3A schools to Adairsville, with Dawson County becoming the fourth closest 3A school. If Pickens and Adairsville were added together, White County High School could potentially leave the region and join Region 8-3A
Dawson County upset Adairsville in the first round of the 2020 state football playoffs last year 45-31 and Adairsville is once again in the state tournament with a third place finish in the region.
Stephens County High School
Though it would seem more probable the GHSA would leave Region 7-3A smaller than pull from a region that is not experiencing any change, Stephens County is the closest high school that could potentially make the move over to the Tigers’ region.
From Dawson County High School, Stephens County is 66 miles away, but White County would only be 36 miles away from the school. Region 8-3A is staying solid from years’ past, so this change would just be an attempt to bring solid competition to the region.
The Indians finished this season fourth in their region for football, but beat White County and North Hall along the way. The school also finished fourth in their region in volleyball.