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Reclassification is coming

By CURTIS ROCKWELL

Item Sports Editor

Preliminary numbers for purposes of statewide reclassification in the Mississippi High School Activities Association were released Friday.

For the four local teams, there will be some changes on the horizon for the Pearl River County teams as far as new districts go and it looks like things will stay much the same for Hancock.

Teams have a few days to appeal the enrollment numbers, but the new region alignments are expected to be announced on Friday.

This will be the first time in history that Mississippi will move to a six class configuration. The top 32 schools in the state, which now mostly make up Class 5A, will move up and form Class 6A.

The next 32 teams in the state, including Picayune and Pearl River Central, are expected to move into what will be Class 5A, but is really mostly made up of teams that were the crux of Class 4A the past several seasons.

From that point, the rest of the schools in the state will be split evenly into the final four classes.

Poplarville is expected to remain in Class 4A, which will be a mix of the smaller 4A schools from this past year and the larger 3A schools.

Picayune will be the largest 5A school in the state, with an enrollment projected at 1,080. PRC is listed as the 22nd Class 5A team, at 876.

Poplarvillle is listed 11th in Class 4A, with an enrollment of 651.

Hancock will move into the new Class 6A, with an enrollment of 1,164 making it 28th in the list of 32 teams.

Hancock’s new region assignment is likely to remain unchanged, with all eight teams in the current Region 4-5A moving up to Class 6A.

For Picayune, PRC and Poplarville, however, questions abound.

There will be eight schools in Class 5A in the three coastal counties alone, and seven more south of the Jackson area but north of those coastal counties meaning that Picayune and PRC may be moved into a region consisting of those schools plus one from the Jackson area and away from the coast schools.

That scenario, one that would put Picayune and PRC in a league with Wayne County, Brookhaven, West Jones, McComb, Stone and possibly Forest Hill is what veteran Picayune head coach Dodd Lee expects to come to fruition.

“I think they’ll move us up into that area,” Lee, who is going through his sixth reclassification as head coach of the Maroon Tide, said. “I’ll be surprised if anything else happens where we stay in a district with the coast schools.”

The other possibility is that the MHSAA would use U.S. Highway 49 as a dividing line and align the teams east and west of that route into regions.

In that scenario, Picayune and PRC would end up in a region with the new West Harrison High School, Brookhaven, McComb, Long Beach West Jones and either a school from the Jackson area or Stone.

In Class 4A, regions may consist of six or seven teams and Poplarville is expected to end up in what would the southernmost region consisting of Bay High, St. Stanislaus, Greene County and Pass Christian along with Forrest County AHS and or Purvis.