When it comes time for football season in 2020, Rockmart will have a new slate of competition in a new classification. They are all teams well familiar to the Yellow Jackets over the year, and should provide new rivalries stretching northward to the Tennessee state line.
The Georgia High School Athletic Association (GHSA) announced their new region alignments following reclassification of schools across the state into ranks from single A to 7A with new student population rules in place. This bumped the Jackets from a dominant spot in 7-AA with all the Floyd County schools, Chattooga, Dade County and Gordon Central upward to AAA and a new grouping mainly centered around Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield counties.
Rockmart finds itself the southernmost school in a new 6-AAA that includes Adairsville, Coahulla Creek, LaFayette, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Murray County, North Murray, Ringgold and Sonoraville.
Their move up places the Jackets slightly further away from opponents than in the past four years within 7-AA much closer by, but are likely to still draw in fans from all corners of Northwest Georgia for games in all of the competitive sports. That's the expectation of Rockmart Athletic Director Barry Williams.
"It's going to be a very competitive region for us with nine teams," Williams said. "It makes a lot of sense. It will increase our travel a little bit, but not by much."
He added that in the past all the teams that Rockmart have previously faced in the new region have "traveled well" and they expect the level of competition will continue to grow facing new foes and playing up in classification against new schools.
"Our kids are excited, the coaches are excited," he said. "We're looking forward to it."
In football alone, Rockmart's new region alignment only allows for two non-region games. One of those will continue to be the annual rivalry with Cedartown, and the other is still being figured out for the coming year's schedule.
The Jackets have traditionally played against foes like Adairsville, Sonoraville, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and LaFayette in all sports, in most recent times in non-region play or tournaments in softball and baseball. The Jackets last played in a region featuring North Murray, Sonoraville, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Adairsville when it played in a 7-AA with two divisions.
Rockmart's new nine team region will stand for the next two years, when the GHSA will re-evaluate alignments once again and decide whether the changes for 2020 will stand.
The Jackets new region will begin with the 2020 football season.