The first step in restructuring the high school athletic districts for the next four years was announced Wednesday, showing the Bradley County teams adding an expected new member to their district, while our neighbors to the east are left wondering where they will end up.
East Hamilton’s 1,107 enrollment means the 4-year old school will join District 5-AAA, along with holdovers Bradley Central (1,664), Cleveland (1,357), Walker Valley (1,565), Ooltewah (1,404), Soddy-Daisy (1,341), McMinn (1,472) and Rhea (1,382) counties.
The Bears, Mustangs and Cherokees will compete in class 6A for the football postseason, while the rest of the district will battle for 5A playoff spots.
While the Hurricanes are moving up to the state’s largest division, Meigs County is moving down, with only 502 students dropping the Decatur school to Class A, leaving the future of District 5-AA up in the air.
With only four remaining teams — Polk County, McMinn Central, Sweetwater and Sequoyah — what the TSSAA will do is unsure.
“We’ve heard talk that either they will move Loudon into our district or they may just dissolve it by sending us and Central to Chattanooga and the other two north,” related Polk County athletic director Ron German.
“Right now everything is just rumors,” he added. We’re not sure what they (TSSAA) are going to do. If they dissolve our district it would let them create a new district in West Tennessee where they have some nine- and 10-team districts right now.”
Should the Wildcats and Chargers shift to Chattanooga, they would join the current District 6-AA, which is losing East Hamilton but still has Red Bank, East Ridge, Hixson, Chattanooga Central, Brainerd, Howard and Tyner Academy.
To avoid a nine-team district one or two of the current teams could be shifted to 7-AA with Signal Mountain, Notre Dame, Chattanooga Christian, Sequatchie, Bledsoe and Grundy counties.
The idea to move Loudon south out of the six-team 4-AA may have been thwarted when Stone Memorial’s new enrollment number (1,087) stepped it up to AAA, leaving just five teams in 4-AA. If the current 5-AA is dissolved, Sweetwater and Sequoyah would be added to 4-AA along with holdovers Alcoa, Kingston, CAK, Loudon and Scott County.
Stone Memorial, located in Crossville, will more than likely join Cookeville, Coffee, Warren, White and Cumberland counties in 6-AAA, which along with the local district make up Region 3-AAA.
With East Hamilton making 5-AAA an eight-team league, local football squads will need just three non-district opponents when new two-year contracts are signed in November.
The football Hurricanes have already been playing Bradley and Ooltewah. After losing to both teams in 2011, East Hamilton defeated the Bears this season, but suffered its only loss on a last-second field goal to the Owls.
Ranked fourth in the latest AP state 4A poll, the Hurricanes are 7-1 on the season and can wrap up their second straight 6-AA title with a win over Red Bank tonight.
East Hamilton has also been playing Cleveland and Walker Valley in basketball, plus other local teams in baseball and softball.
Area schools will be able to voice their opinions on the upcoming district setups in an administrators’ meeting at Hardin Valley High School on Nov. 5. The TSSAA Board of Control will make the final decision on the new district during its Nov. 15 meeting.