By Jonathan Deal
Along with the announcement Wednesday the AHSAA would add a seventh classification, new area alignments were released that will take affect August 2014.
Although area alignments were announced for all sports, the new football regions dominated headlines and talk around the state Thursday.
This is Alabama, after all.
The most shocking region was 6A Region 8 where Athens finds itself in perhaps the toughest region in the state. Competing in Class 6A for the first time in school history, Athens was thrown into a seven-team group with Austin, Cullman, Decatur, Florence, Hartselle and Muscle Shoals.
It will be a familiar region with Florence being the only school not on Athens schedule in 2013, but a difficult one with five teams that made the postseason last year.
Four of those teams were in 5A Region 8 last season where East Limestone should find the sledding much easier for the next two years. Replacing the four perennial powers will be Columbia, J.O. Johnson, Pope John Paul II, and Ardmore — which will compete in Class 5A for the first time.
Ardmore, which made the playoffs for the first time in six years in 2013, should compete for a playoff spot immediately.
In Class 4A, Elkmont made the surprise move from 3A to 4A where the Red Devils will be in a region with county rivals West Limestone and five other Lauderdale County schools.
Deshler and Elkmont are the only newcomers to 4A Region 8, replacing Haleyville and Priceville.
Tanner moved from Region 8 to Region 6 where the Rattlers will play six new teams — Addison, Cold Springs, Falkville, Southeastern, Sumiton Christian and Tarrant — for the next two seasons.
Tanner currently holds the state record for consecutive region victories with 35 straight region wins. Tanner will now have to compete against Pickens County, the defending 1A champion, which is now a 2A school.
Clements remained in 3A Region 8. Colbert Heights, Lexington, Sheffield moved up from 2A and will replace Deshler, Westminster Christian and Elkmont.
The following is a complete list of the new AHSAA football alignments involving Limestone County Schools:
6A Region 8
5A Region 8
Pope John Paul II
4A Region 8
3A Region 8
2A Region 6