Wellborn will have to hit the round for about three hours to reach Red Bay, its first-round opponent. Woodland has a trip as long to Tanner. Weaver will have to travel nearly that much to get to Hamilton for its opening game.
Cleburne County has to go about 2½ hours to Madison County, and Handley faces a drive of more than four hours to reach UMS-Wright for a first-round game.
This may be the best way to do it competition-wise, but in glancing at the matchups, wouldn’t it have been better to adjust the pairings? It wouldn’t have taken much. If the AHSAA had the Region 1 in each classification pair with Region 2 for the playoffs, Region 3 pair with 4, Region 5 with 6, and Region 7 with 8, these local schools wouldn’t be spending nearly as much for gas to get to football games.
Weaver would travel to Geraldine, which is almost two hours away less than Hamilton. Wellborn could’ve been paired with Montgomery Academy, which is about an hour closer than Red Bay. Cleburne County could’ve shaved about 45 minutes by going to Guntersville rather than Madison County.
Woodland would travel about an hour to Lanett, rather heading so far North to Tanner. And as for Handley, any change at all in the bracket would’ve meant a shorter drive. Handley finished fourth in Class 4A, Region 3, and in the current bracket, that means it must face the champion of Region 1, UMS-Wright. But the champions of Regions 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are closer to Handley.
Certainly, it’s unfair to bash a whole system based strictly on the plight of Weaver, Wellborn, Woodland, Cleburne County and Handley, but it’s enough to make you wonder.
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.