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UPDATED: AHSAA approves seven-class system, BRHS moves to 6A

Published 11:49am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Benjamin Russell Wildcats are returning to Class 6A after unprecedented changes instituted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
The AHSAA Central Board of Control unanimously approved adding a seventh classification for championship play Wednesday beginning with the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school system.
Many football regions around the state will look completely different under the new system, which takes the biggest 32 schools and puts them into a “super classification” in hopes of evening out competition at the state’s highest level.
The AHSAA has functioned with a six-class system since 1984. Reclassficiation is done every two years and is based on the average daily enrollment numbers provided by the state board of education.The remaining six classes were divided as equally as possible with 60 schools in 6A, 61 in 5A, 60 in 4A, 60 in 3A, 58 in 2A and 58 making up Class 1A.
In football, Dadeville remains slotted in Class 4A, Region 3. However, they have some new opponents. The defending 4A-Region 3 champs will play Childersburg, Elmore County, Holtville, Handley, Munford and perennial 3A powerhouse Leeds.
“It’s good to change up who you play sometimes,” said DHS football coach Richard White. “Going to new towns and new stadiums can be exciting for our kids. We got to keep old rivalries in Elmore County and Handley, and with adding Munford –who we’ve played before and has been in our region before – and the Class 3A runner-up in Leeds, these games are going to be measuring sticks for us.”
White said he knew that Dadeville would remain 4A and agreed that the addition of Class 7A was a good decision.
“They had to do something to equal  out the playing field,” White said.
As one of the larger schools in 5A this past season, the Wildcats moved up to 6A as a result of the new Class 7A.
BRHS football coach Danny Horn said the move will come with tougher sledding, but added the Wildcats will be ready for the challenge.
“There’s no easy way to do reclassification,” Horn said. “Some teams suffer from it and some are glad from it. Unfortunately, we’re one of the schools that it hurts a little bit. It’s going to be tough, but that’s how it is.”
BRHS will play football in Class 6A-Region 3 starting in 2014. Region opponents include Oxford, Opelika, Pell City, Valley, Chilton County and Chelsea. Horn began his tenure at BRHS in 2009, while the Wildcats were in Class 6A.
“We’re in a tough region, there’s no question about it,” Horn said. “Opelika and Oxford are good year in and year out, and we know that. Hopefully we’ve got ourselves to a point where we’re decent year in and year out. It’s pretty tough, but we’ve been here before.”
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese  said in the press release that the new classification system reduces the need for five team areas in sports such as volleyball and basketball.  The need for nine team football regions has also been reduced.
The central board also voted to allow football teams 11 weeks to schedule a maximum of 10 games, which allows schools the opportunity to play a non-region contest or jamboree the week of Aug. 21-23 and then have ten weeks to play nine other regular season contests, or 10 in 10 weeks if a jamboree is played.
The new format should give schools more flexibility on scheduling non-region games.
Daniel Evans of the Selma-Times Journal contributed to this report.