MONTGOMERY — A seven-class system for the Alabama High School Athletic Association has been a long time coming, according to executive director Steve Savarese.
But an extension in the biennial classification process from November to January allowed the association the time to finally make an additional class feasible.
The AHSAA Central Board voted Wednesday morning to expand to seven classes in all sports. The new Class 7A is reserved for the state's mega-schools like Hoover and Mountain Brook, and will comprise 32 teams.
The remaining six classes will be divided evenly, with four classes having 60 schools in football and the other two having 59.
Among local teams, Pinson Valey and Center Point will move up to the new Class 6A, Corner advances to 5A, and Fultondale goes up to 3A. Gardendale stays in the new 6A, while Mortimer Jordan and Hayden stay in 5A. Locust Fork, which was facing a possible drop to 3A in a six-class scheme, will instead remain in 4A. Tarrant, as expected, will drop to 2A.
It's the first major change in the classification of member schools since 1984, when the AHSAA went from four to six classes. That came after 20 years of two classes, as implemented in 1964.
Savarese said that the expansion ultimately came down to creating more opportunities for students, he said in a press conference.
“This new system will create about 100 more playoff rounds, and allow roughly 5,000 students to be involved in championships,” he said. “We came to the conclusion that seven classifications will provide the most opportunities, given the current format.”
In football, Class 7A will have four regions, with the top four moving into the playoffs. During the week that other classes play semifinal contests, 7A will have the week off to allow its state title game to be played on Wednesday of the new Super 7.