Cartersville finds itself in Region 7-AAAA with seven different schools than its previous region, 5-AAA.
However, the Purple Hurricanes have extensive experience with several of the athletic programs in this new region as LaFayette, Gilmer and Pickens were all in the same region or sub-region under the alignment from 2010 to 2012.
As a result, Cartersville athletic director Darrell Demastus is familiar with the schools in the new region and is pleased with the outcome of the reclassification process.
“These teams were actually all in our region three years ago, so we’re just kind of going back to the region we were in then. The teams are strong and they’re competitive. They always have been,” Demastus said. “You’ve got Ridgeland in football. They’ve been very successful over the past couple of years and went to the championship game two years ago, so you’ve got programs there that are outstanding. Southeast Whitfield has really come up in some of their programs. You have Pickens and Gilmer — that’s always very competitive whenever we’ve played them before. And with Heritage and LaFayette, it’s going to be a good competitive region.”
The new region includes Gilmer, Heritage, LaFayette, Northwest Whitfield, Pickens, Ridgeland and Southeast Whitfield.
Demastus was considering applying to move up a classification to AAAAA, but says he is now pleased with the region Cartersville was placed in.
“I really do think it’s going to be good. I took Thanksgiving break and I really contemplated what’s going to be next for Cartersville High School, and I just don’t feel like we need to make that move at this point in time,” Demastus said of applying to move up a classification. “I thought the region would be strong, and when I started to look at each schools’ numbers and was thinking about possibly petitioning to move up, I knew that these schools traveled well and got good gates. I thought, ‘Heck, let’s just stay where we are and let’s be a part of this region.’”
Of course, level of competition is always important when evaluating a region. The new Region 7-AAAA should provide Cartersville with plenty of competition in upcoming seasons.
Ridgeland has a perennially competitive football team. Gilmer has had a dominant wrestling program in years past. Overall, the level of competition should be greater than when the Canes were in Region 5-AAA.
“When I was coaching, I prepared for the state tournament and I wanted to play good competition. Of course, you always want to win the region and I think that we can be very competing in that region,” Demastus said. “We’re moving up a level, but these are teams that we’ve played before.”
Potential travel time and gate numbers are also concerns when changing regions. One reason Demastus was considering moving to AAAAA was to limit the distance between schools in Cartersville’s region. However, travel times should not increase much with the new region configuration. Ridgeland High is roughly 75 miles away and the seven schools average about 56 miles of travel from Cartersville High. The longest trip for Cartersville in Region 5-AAA was Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, which is about 70 miles away. The average distance to the schools in that region was 48 miles.
“Teams like Northwest Whitfield, Southeast Whitfield, Ridgeland and Heritage, they all travel well. I know that it’s a little bit of a drive, but I actually think the traveling will not hinder us at the gate that bad,” Demastus said. “When Pickens and Gilmer were with us before, they both always brought a good crowd. I don’t think the travel is going to be that big of an issue. I think we’re always going to get good crowds. Those people at those schools have always been very supportive of their sports programs.”
One negative effect of the new alignment will be that Cartersville is no longer in the same region as Adairsville, or any other Bartow County rival. Still, Demastus does not see any reason why the rivalry cannot be continued, along with other in-county games.
“I talked to Coach [Frank] Barden [Wednesday] as a matter of a fact. We’re going to have three games that we can pick up as far as non-region games and we’re certainly hoping that Cass is going to be one of those games for the in-town rivalry,” Demastus said of scheduling other Bartow County teams. “I don’t see why Adairsville would be out of the picture whatsoever. I do think we’ll try to stay pretty local. We’re probably not going to want to pick up Woodland because we’ve had so much success and I know Woodland has had success at the gate with that being our scrimmage game.
“Coach Barden handles that and we just kind of get together and discuss what is going to get us a good gate and be a competitive game. I certainly think Adairsville is right in there with that possibility.”
Overall, Demastus believes the new region will be competitive.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great region and a great two years.”