No one expected this.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association released new region and division alignments for the next two school years Friday, and Picayune and Pearl River Central have been separated.
Picayune will remain in a (Coast) district, Region 4-5A, while PRC has been shipped north to Region 3-5A.
Joining Picayune in the newly configured alignment will be holdovers Pascagoula, Long Beach, West Harrison, East Central and Gautier as well as newcomers George County and Stone County.
George County was expected to join the league, replacing Moss Point which dropped to Class 4A. Stone was moved in from Region 3-5A, and PRC was moved to that league.
Pearl River Central joins Wayne County, West Jones, Laurel and South Jones along with Brookhaven, Natchez and Jackson Wingfield in Region 3-5A.
“It’s supposed to be about the kids I thought, and how in any way is this beneficial for us,” PRC head football coach Eris Collins, who has guided the Blue Devils to the last two Class 5A South State championship games, said."If they (MHSAA) cared for our kids, they wouldn’t do this. It’s just a total lack of respect for Pearl River Central, it’s a slap in the face.”
Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin indicated that the school will appeal the decision. Less than 10 percent of the appeals to the re-districting or re-classification process over the past decade have been overturned, however.
Region alignments are for football purposes only, while division alignments are for basketball and baseball.
Picayune will remain in Division 7-5A, along with Long Beach and West Harrison and Stone will replace PRC. Pascagoula, George County, East Central and Gautier will comprise Division 8-5A.
Pearl River Central will be in Division 6-5A, along with Brookhaven, Natchez and Jackson Wingfield.
For PRC, it means much more travel and the costs that it entails over the next two seasons starting next school year.
“It’s not just the cost of our teams traveling, but how many people will be in the visiting stands when Jackson Wingfield comes here to play, five?” Collins continued. “It’s going to cost us money to go that far on the road and it will cost us money at home games as well because some of those schools won’t bring anybody. We have nothing in common with any of those schools.”
Some observers have suggested that PRC and Stone were swapped because Stone has had to endure the cost of extensive travel over the past four years being in the more northern district.
So the question now arises, will Picayune and PRC still play each other in most sports, but especially football?
“I didn’t expect us to be split up.” Picayune head coach Dodd Lee sad. “I would think we want to play them, there’s too much money involved not to. We wouldn’t want to play them the first game, because the state gets too much of that money for Classic games. But We would absolutely want to play them the second or third game of the year. It just makes sense for us, and I would think for them too with all the traveling they will be doing why not play someone you’re six miles from.”
“I do want to play them, I think it makes sense for both of us,” Collins added. “I’ll have some scheduling issues to work out, but we want to keep Picayune on the schedule.”
Meanwhile, Poplarville remained in a newly configured Region 8-4A that now features Moss Point, Vancleave, St. Stanislaus, Pass Christian and Bay High. That league will be in effect for basketball and baseball as well.
Forrest County, which was dominant in football over the past few years, and Greene County, which is playing for the Class 4A state championship today, both have been moved into Region 5-4A.
Some sports, such as volleyball and fast-pitch softball, will feature different division alignments due to the fact that not all schools field teams. Those division alignments will be released at a later date.
The MHSAA reclassifies schools based on enrollment numbers compiled every two years. The current reclassification and realignment will be in effect for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
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