BY DARREN REESE
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) released its proposed district alignment for 2013-17 late Friday evening, and the changes came as no surprise to the local school that will be affected the most.
South Greene - which due to a decrease in enrollment is moving down to Class A - will be placed in District 1-A, pending a vote of approval from the TSSAA Board of Control during its meeting in Murfreesboro next week.
According to SGHS athletic director Terry Hoese, that's what his school anticipated...and preferred.
"(TSSAA Board of Control member) Mike Reed called me earlier in the week and kind of let me know what was going on, as far as where we might be put," Hoese said. "To be honest, that's where we would like to be."
"For one, it's closer travel for us up that way. Also, teams up there seem to travel better. One thing we were really worried about dropping from AA to A was a loss of revenue. We feel like this was the best situation for us in the move."
If the proposed districts are approved, South Greene will join North Greene in District 1-A, along with Cloudland, Hampton, Unaka and University High.
Hampton, North Greene and South Greene will compete for a spot in the 2A playoffs during football season, while Cloudland and Unaka will vie for the 1A postseason. University does not field a football team.
There was debate as to whether South Greene might be placed in District 2-A, along with Berean, Clinch, Cosby, Hancock Co. L&N STEM Academy, TSD, and Washburn.
Hoese said the move gives South Greene a better chance to be competitive in every sport across the board. During the last round of district realignment four years ago, SGHS was the smallest Class AA school in the state with 525 students.
South Greene reported an enrollment of 494 this time around.
"I think it will help with all sports, even though we are going into an extremely tough conference," Hoese noted.
"It will be nice to know that you at least have a chance to make it to state every now and then. In the past, in the AA district we were in, you could go 33-2 (in basketball) and then in substate go and lose by 30 to one of the teams out of Knoxville."
The departure of South Greene from District 2-AA will leave that league with just six teams starting with the 2013-14 school year, pending next week's approval.
Chuckey-Doak, Claiborne, Cumberland Gap, Grainger, Greeneville and West Greene will remain in the district. There was some thought that possibly Gatlinburg-Pittman or Pigeon Forge might be moved from District 3 to District 2, but that appears not to have happened.
Chuckey-Doak head football coach Aaron Christian said he had no preference one way or another.
"I'm ok with this way," Christian said. "Competition wise, it doesn't change a whole lot for us."
Christian said his football program still plans on playing both North Greene and South Greene as non-district games every year to keep the county traditions alive, so there should be no issues with scheduling because of the proposed realignment.
The Black Knights are in search of one non-district game, due to the fact that they will not play Unaka for the first time since 2004 next year.
Christian said he believes coaches with some other districts will have more difficulty filling out a non-conference schedule due to realignment issues. He has already received calls from several of them looking for a game.
"I've told a lot of the coaches that I just wanted to wait and see how this thing was going to play out first," Christian said. "I needed to wait to see if our district was going to lose a team or gain a team or whatever."
In proposed moves for other area schools, Sullivan South is dropping from Class AAA to Class AA and will more than likely be put in District 1-AA with Elizabethton, Happy Valley, Johnson County, Sullivan East, Sullivan North and Unicoi.
District 1-AAA will simply lose South. District 2-AAA is set to remain the same.