Callaway, LaGrange and Troup were each caught up in that shakeup, and beginning this season, the football teams from those schools will be heading to new regions, and new classifications.
Callaway, which has been a Class AA program throughout its history, is moving up to Class AAA, and the Cavaliers will be a part of the new-look Region 4-AAA.
Troup and LaGrange, who have both been Class AAA programs the past few seasons, are moving up to Class AAAA, and they’ll both be in Region 5-AAAA.
Here’s a look at the eight teams that will make up Region 5-AAAA.
On Monday, we’ll look at Region 4-AAA
Sandy Creek won back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010, Carrollton has been on the doorstep of a state title in recent years and has won back-to-back region titles, LaGrange has struggled a bit of late but is one of the state’s proudest and best programs, and Troup has been a consistent playoff team and is coming off an appearance in the second round of the state playoffs.
Welcome to Region 4-AAAA, where just getting to the state playoffs will be an accomplishment.
SANDY CREEK: Leading the way is Sandy Creek, which saw its run of back-to-back state titles end with a quarterfinal loss to Gainesville last year.
Before that loss, the Patriots had won 36 consecutive games, including a win over Troup in a second-round game a year ago.
While the Patriots will have some holes to fill after losing a number of college-bound players, including all-state wide receiver Jaquay Williams, there’s plenty of talent remaining.
Among the players returning are a defensive back in Shaq Wiggins and a wide receiver in Demarre Kitt who have both committed to the University of Georgia.
The Patriots went 12-1 last season.
CARROLLTON: Carrollton is a familiar foe for LaGrange and Troup.
The three teams were all in Region 6-AAA the past two years, and Carrollton won the region tite both years.
In 2010, the Trojans made it to the state-championship game before falling to Sandy Creek.
The Trojans lost six all-state players who helped the program achieve so much success in recent years, leaving it up to the returnees and a new crop of players to help keep the wins coming.
The Trojans went 11-2 a year ago and lost in the quarterfinals to Peach county.
“I don’t think we’ll be quite as explosive as we’ve been as far as the big plays,” Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague said. “You can’t replace the speed of even D.J. Johnson at 4.5 (seconds, Telvin Brown at 4.4, Jonathan Jones at 4.4 and the list goes on and on. We’re not going to have that kind of explosiveness which means we have to be more ball control which means we have to be more consistent.”
ALEXANDER: The Cougars, who lost their final three games a season ago to finish 4-6, haven’t had a whole lot of success over the years.
The last time the Cougars had a winning season was in 1997, although they did make some positive strides a year ago under third-year head coach Matthew Combs. The Cougars were 4-3 at one point, but they finished the season with three straight losses.
COLUMBUS: Columbus has the state’s best baseball program, but the football team hasn’t been able to feed off of that success.
The last time the Blue Devils had a winning season came in 2005 when they went 6-4, and they’re coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons.
FAYETTE COUNTY:The Tigers went 11-1 in 2007, but they’ve fallen on hard times since.
The Tigers have had four straight losing seasons, including back-to-back 2-8 campaigns.
The Tigers do have a major threat in 6-foot-3 wide receiver Antonio Messick, who has accepted a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech.
Fayette County coach Mike Davis gave Messick high praise.
“Antonio’s abilities are unlimited,” David said. “He’s big, tall, and rangy. He looks like another Julio Jones out there.”
SHAW: The Raiders were one of the state’s best programs under head coach Charles Flowers, but things haven’t gone quite as well in recent years.
The Raiders made some strides a year ago, though, when they returned to the state playoffs for the first time since 2008, and new head coach Kyle Adkins will look to keep the team moving forward this season.
Adkins was the offensive coordinator for the pass-happy Raiders a year ago.
The Raiders had a 1,000-yard receiver a year ago in Jalen Jones, and quarterback Chandler Whittlesey threw for nearly 2,000 yards.
Whittlesey will be back to direct the Raiders’ attack this season.
“Shaw has a rich tradition,” Adkins said. “It is an honor and privilege to coach here. I want to get this program back to where coach Flowers had it.”
LAGRANGE: After two straight losing seasons, the Grangers will look to get things turned around this season.
The Grangers return a lot of players on both sides of the football as they try to improve on their 4-7 record from a year ago.
LaGrange has plenty of weapons, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Wide receiver Dee Smith is an all-state-caliber player, Demoton Boyd is one of the state’s fastest players who is a versatile threat, and junior quarterback Zach Giddens has developed a solid grasp of the spread offense.
“Our skill level is really good,” second-year head coach Donnie Branch said. “Dee Smith, he caught 50 balls for almost 900 yards and missed two games last year. He’s all an all-state receiver.”
Defensively, the Grangers have plenty of talent as well, including big defensive lineman D.J. Hudson as well as speedy defensive back Qua Baldwin.
TROUP: The Tigers are coming off back-to-back banner seasons.
The Tigers went 7-4 in 2010, and they were 9-3 last season while making it to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2003.
The program has undergone a major shakeup, though.
Charles Flowers, the head coach in 2010 and 2011, isn’t returning, and a handful of key players left as well, including all-state linebacker Reuben Foster.
The Tigers are still well-equipped to keep the wins coming this season, though.
Veteran coach Lynn Kendall inherits a team that has plenty of talent still in the fold.
Senior Ricky Frazier is a dynamic player who will be a threat as a defensive back and wide receiver, and perhaps as a quarterback.
Also back is standout defensive back Lemonta Truitt, as well as defensive lineman Maurice Swain.
A key for the Tigers will be finding a replacement for quarterback Eric Bridges, who graduated.
Kendall said a handful of players are vying to take the snaps this season, and more than one quarterback will likely be used.
“We have several there,” Kendall said. “It’s just making sure we use them at the right time in the right situation.”