In a new reclassification cycle, a shakeup is always expected and that was certainly the case for local teams this year. Previously it had been announced Reeltown will be making a jump to Class 3A, changing things up quite drastically, and that continued as the AHSAA recently announced its spring alignments for the 2020-22 cycle.
In a larger classification, the Rebels will now be in the three-team Area 7 with Dadeville and Beulah for both softball and baseball.
“We’re again in an area with two respectable opponents and two established opponents,” Reeltown baseball coach Trey Chambers said. “It’ll be a task for us to try to make playoffs year in and year out, but I’m excited that our boys can have the challenges of trying to get into the playoffs every year. I’m pretty pleased.”
Like the new football, volleyball and basketball alignments, this also puts more emphasis on the Dadeville versus Reeltown rivalry. Not only will the teams want to win those games for bragging rights in the cross-county rival series, but it will also count toward playoffs.
“It’s always fun playing your rivals and now it’s even more of a challenge and more fun when it means a little bit more and when playoffs are on the line,” Chambers said. “It’s going to be exciting for both programs, both fan bases and just a good thing for our county so I’m excited about that for sure.”
Reeltown isn’t the only one with rivalries brewing in new area alignments. Benjamin Russell will be in Class 6A Area 5 with Wetumpka and Stanhope Elmore.
The Wildcats and Wetumpka, especially, seem to have a growing rivalry across all sports. The two squads were previously in an area together for many sports and have traditionally been with each other in football regions. Most recently, BRHS also met Wetumpka in the baseball playoffs and have continued to play against each other in the regular season.
“We’re 45 minutes apart, so we should be a rivalry,” Benjamin Russell baseball coach Richy Brooks said. “We’re probably as close to them and Opelika as we are to any 6A schools. Wetumpka is a battle every year and we’ve played both of them every year, area or not.
“I thought Stanhope was one of the most improved teams we played last year. Coach (Kyle) Shuman has done a really good job with them and they have got a lot of young talent, so they’ll be a difficult opponent.”
The boys soccer program will certainly feel the heat from Stanhope as the two have battled it out in the postseason recently as well.
“They had such a great team last year and they were probably one of the state favorites,” BRHS boys soccer coach Austin Teel said. “We lost to them two times in the regular season and beat them in the playoffs so that added to the fire of it. Coach (Johanna) Angelo has a good program and I think early on when we started playing each other, she was trying to catch up to us and now they’ve sort of overtaken us. It’s been a good battle between us in our local area.”
Because of the proximity, the soccer teams have also faced both Wetumpka and SEHS in the past so the familiarity will be an advantage heading into a new area.
“I would say this is a more balanced region with all three teams,” Wildcat girls soccer coach Lee Wagoner said. “It’s much more balanced but it’s very winnable for us as long as we play at our best. The familiarity is a good thing and it should be competitive.”
As for Horseshoe Bend, which remains in Class 2A, the rivalry of Reeltown has been taken away. In baseball, the Generals will now face Lanett, LaFayette, Ranburne and Randolph County and the softball team will be with that group minus Lanett.
For the baseball team, that means a five-team area which makes it tougher to schedule games outside the area but HBS coach Jason Johnson said he doesn’t want the local rivalries to die.
“We always try to play teams within an hour from here, so we’ll try to keep them on the schedule,” Johnson said. “We’re going to try to make sure Reeltown is on there and Dadeville — I like that rivalry because I’m a Dadeville alum.”
This will be the first time in several years Horseshoe Bend’s softball team is in a four-team area, so that will take some adjusting.
“It’s going to be something that our girls aren’t used to,” HBS softball coach Hagen Whiteard said. “We’ve been in the three-team area for a while now, so I’m going to have to make sure I have a talk with them. They’re going to have to play to earn their spot now.”
Central Coosa’s new area for both baseball and softball will be 2A Area 7 with B.B. Comer, Fayetteville and Vincent.
“That’s going to be a tough area for us,” Cougar softball coach Chris Elliott said. “It keeps everything in perspective when you go play teams like that because when you go play a good team, you really see where you stand. That gives us a lot to work on and tells us what we need to know about ourselves.”