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Skyrocketing gas prices a concern for high school football
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Due to the ever-increasing price of gas, in conjunction with the reclassification of several Newton County high schools, prep football has taken a hit across the state of Georgia.

In fact, the cost of diesel fuel used to power schools buses is up 49 percent from approximately one year ago.

According to Newton County associate superintendent for administration Deborah Robertson, the county purchased fuel last month at an average cost of $4.17 per gallon. In August 2007, it was $2.79.

In addition, in the fiscal year 2009 budget, fuel was estimated to be $3.50 per gallon.

Obviously, there is a great deal of concern among superintendents regarding the cost of diesel fuel, which recently led to a meeting designed to tackle the issue at hand.

"There are concerns about transporting students to and from school as well as transporting them to extra-curricular activities," said GHSA executive director Dr. Ralph Swearngin via telephone after his return from the meeting. "We also talked about ways we could creatively schedule events so you wouldn't have so much travel.

"Most of the issues are under the control of the schools themselves," he added.

The primary decision stemming from the meeting was that everything will be left up to the individual schools.

For now, school systems must solve the situation if it causes any monetary problems.

"Thus far, we have no knowledge of whether gas prices will affect what we have to do in terms of transportation," said Eastside High athletic director Dennis Roddenberry. "I have not received anything from my principal or anyone else."

The three Newton County high schools will travel a total of 538 miles this football season, with Newton traveling the most - 209 miles for five away games.

The Rams' furthest game is in Evans, located 109 miles from Covington.

Meanwhile, Eastside will travel 197 miles this season for three away games.

The longest trip for the Eagles is an 88-mile trek to Hart County on Oct. 10.

For Alcovy, three away regular-season games will translate into 131 miles on the odometer.

The Tigers also have a preseason scrimmage on the road against Southside on Aug. 22, which happens to be the longest trip slated for Alcovy this season (45 miles).

Sports writer Eric R. Wallace contributed to this report.