ohatchee leeds sights

Here come the Indians before the Leeds at Ohatchee AHSAA football game. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

The coming Alabama High School Athletic Association reclassification cycle promised a lot of change, and the AHSAA has added a game changer.

The Central Board on Thursday unanimously voted to change how it arrives at each school’s relevant average daily enrollment number. Instead of counting grades 10-12, the AHSAA will count grades 9-11, effective immediately.

The AHSAA will announce reclassification for the 2020-22 cycle in about a month. Schools have submitted numbers.

The move makes sense, given changing times and the desire to base reclassification on the most realistic numbers possible.

“When the AHSAA began classifying member schools in multiple classes years ago, most ninth-grade students were attending junior highs,” AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said. “We now have just four junior high schools in the AHSAA, and those schools only feed one school.

“We also found several schools have students who are being counted in the senior class numbers that no longer have eligibility (too old) to participate in the AHSAA. However, every ninth grader has a chance to become eligible to participate over the two-year classification period.”

Throw that conversation into the context of what was brewing, and things could look very different for our area schools, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Already, several schools in what's now Class 3A, Region 6 turned in numbers at the 2A-3A borderline. That includes Piedmont, which has won three 3A titles in 10 years.

Anniston, once a 6A power and now a 4A, Region 6 playoff contender, could move down. Ohatchee, the second-ranked team in 2A, could move back up to 3A, where the Indians made the 2016 semifinals.

The general sense is most schools have bigger freshman classes than senior classes, which might keep some down movers from moving. Keep a watch on this. Meanwhile, enjoy high school football as we know it.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.