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Big changes for Rockdale re-alignment
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For one of the three local high schools, the competition on the field, gym and court will be completely different next year thanks to the Georgia High School Association's new region alignment.

When the new school year starts, Rockdale will move up from region 8-AAAA to a whole new classification. The Bulldogs will not only be a AAAAAA school but will also be in Region 2.

The new 2-AAAAAA will pit Rockdale against Alcovy, Druid Hills, Newton, Lovejoy, Luella and Morrow. If the group of schools chooses to go to a subregion, Rockdale is currently slated to be in subregion A, of Alcovy, Druid Hills and Newton.

"Rockdale is going to have a great opportunity to compete at the 6A level in the upcoming seasons," Rockdale Athletic Director Jared Harris said. "Rockdale is very excited about the new family of schools and school systems that we will join next year."

It will mark the first year in a while that Rockdale will not face cross-town rivals Salem and Heritage in region play; however, the three schools are likely to face each other in every sport.

Heritage and Salem will remain in a mostly similar region when the 2012-13 year begins.

The two schools are slated to be in Region 8-AAAAA, consisting of Apalachee, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Winder-Barrow, Cedar Shoals, Clarke Central and Loganville.

"It was pretty transparent as far as the changes, except from gaining Gainesville," Salem Athletic Director Maurice Gibson said. "It changes the competition a little bit."

The Salem Seminoles and Patriots are familiar with all their opponents from 8-AAAA except for Gainesville, which brings a wealth of winning to the new grouping.

"Overall we're pleased in adding Gainesville," Heritage Athletic Director Chuck Landy said. "They're pretty strong in virtually everything.

"When we got Flowery Branch two years ago they were very solid in every sport, and Gainesville is similar. They're solid in just about everything."

Region 8-AAAAA is virtually similar to 8-AAAA with the exception of trading Gainesville for Madison County and Habersham.

That makes the competition a little tighter and also eases up the travel slightly with a trip to Madison County out every year, and the swapping of Habersham for Gainesville.

"Travel-wise it didn't really change anything for us," Gibson said. "If anything it brought another team into the region that is very competitive in all sports."

Along with another competitive team, Region 8-AAAAA also provides familiarity to both Salem and Heritage.

"The No. 1 benefit is we're familiar with just about everybody," Landy said. "We're in a good region as far as good people to compete against, the travel is not too bad and the facilities are nice. When they come to us or when we go to them there's a familiarity there now."

Landy and his fellow Rockdale County athletic directors are also hoping to keep the familiarity going outside of the region. Both Salem and Heritage will look to schedule Rockdale outside of region play.

"Hopefully with us and Salem, each of us will get a chance to play Rockdale," Landy said. "We still want to play them, and they still want to play us."