Every Richmond County high school except Laney is expected to be placed in the same region when the Georgia High School Association meets Dec. 2 to determine its alignment for the next four years.
Nine schools will participate in Class AAA, with Glenn Hills, Westside, Josey, A.R. Johnson and Davidson choosing to move up from their lower-classification enrollment numbers.
Schools had until Tuesday to request to move up in classification by sending a document signed by their principal and superintendent to the GHSA.
"We preferred we all stay in the same region, but Laney wanted to stay where they were," Richmond County athletics director George Bailey said. "So our superintendent allowed them to play where they wanted to play."
Two years ago, Laney also was the lone school to opt against playing with the rest of the county. Every school in the county is currently grouped in Region 3-AAAA with four Columbia County schools.
Laney could again be isolated in a region where the closest school is 40 miles away (Jefferson County) and multiple schools are 100 miles away, setting up season upon season of arduous travel. Laney is the smallest school in the county other than magnet schools A.R. Johnson and Davidson.
Bailey referred questions to Laney officials. Laney athletic director Otis Smart said he was unaware a final classification decision was made. Laney football coach Lemuel Lackey said he supported the school's move to remain in Class AA.
"You want your kids in a fair fight," he said. "It was a tough decision."
Schools can appeal region placement in front of the GHSA on Dec. 16. The region placements will run from fall 2010 to spring 2014.
The executive committee will meet Jan. 12 to finalize regions for the next four years.
The Richmond County schools can expect to be placed in a region with Harlem, which has also elected to play up, and Grovetown. Burke County, Thomson, Washington County and Statesboro -- all Class AAA in size -- could join the Richmond and two Columbia County schools to form a giant region that would need to be subdivided.
The three other Columbia County schools -- Lakeside, Greenbrier and Evans -- will play in Class AAAA and likely be grouped with schools from the eastern part of the state. The reorganization should lump Evans, Lakeside and Greenbrier with the schools it played with three years ago, such as Effingham County, Wayne County and Glynn Academy.
"We liked that region, other than some traveling ... There's great people down there," Evans athletic director Kevin Kenny said. "We were in that region before and really got along with the folks."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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*electing to play up in Class AAA