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TSSAA ponders potential regional realignment

Potentially big high school football news came out of Tuesday’s TSSAA Board of Control meeting. Among the items discussed was region realignment as three proposed ideas could all have the Pioneers on the move as soon as the 2015-16 school year.
In all sports, Warren County is currently scheduled to play in the six-team District 6-AAA for the second straight year. The district includes Cookeville, White County, Rhea County, Stone Memorial and Cumberland County. The six-team district was introduced last school year and is scheduled to stay intact until 2016-17, but Tuesday’s discussions may speed up the process.
Every year, the TSSAA reviews the enrollment numbers from schools and tries to place teams together in accordance to those numbers. For most of the last two decades, Warren County has been placed in the highest possible classification due to it being one of the top 20 largest schools in the state. Currently, Warren County would play in the 6A playoffs should the team qualify.
Tuesday’s meeting proposed three separate plans: keeping the current six-class plan, going back to the old five-class format or constructing a new six-class structure. All meeting information can be found on the TSSAA’s website.
In all scenarios, Warren County would face new district opponents.
If the plan is to keep the current six-class plan – talks were tabled until August – The Tennessean obtained the possible new-look districts across the state. Warren County would shift into a district which would include Blackman, Oakland, Riverdale, Siegel, Mt. Juliet, Cookeville and Wilson Central.
If a move is made to a five-class system, Warren County would face Bradley Central, Coffee County, Cookeville, Franklin County, McMinn County, Ooltewah, Rhea County and Walker Valley, according to The Tennessean.
In the third scenario, the 32 largest schools in the state would group together to form 6A. Currently 54 teams are considered 6A. The benefit to all the biggest schools would be that every team would be immediately eligible for postseason play.
WCHS athletic director Todd Willmore is aware of all these potential moves. He's ready to voice his opinion of who the Pioneers will be grouped with, though he knows it might not be heard.
"Obviously we would prefer to be classified with schools of similar size and demographics. We have no issues or concerns playing schools from Murfreesboro, Nashville, Chattanooga, etc., but feel we would be at a competitive disadvanantage if we were to compete in districts made of schools predominately from those areas," said Willmore. "My personal preference would be a district made up of Coffee County, Franklin County, Lincoln County, Shelbyville, Tullahoma and Warren County, but I do not believe it will ever transpire."
Willmore, with help of area representative Jerry Mathis from Tullahoma, made that pitch the last time around, but it didn't seem to register. The inclusion of Rhea County irked more than a few schools in the area that didn't see the need of adding a team from a different time zone in the district.
Nothing will be decided in the short term. Willmore is taking a wait-and-see approach and will prepare his words when needed.
"When new proposals are presented to the member schools, we will voice our preference, but we also understand we are subject to what the Board deems is in the best interest of the TSSAA as a whole," said Willmore. "Therefore, we will play whoever we are aligned with and strive to be as competitive as possible."


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