Spain Park, Chelsea, Briarwood move down in fall reclassification, Montevallo, Indian Springs move up, Helena stays in Class 6A

Published 1:02 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

After months of rumors and speculations, the AHSAA officially announced reclassification for fall sports for the 2024-2026 school years on Monday, Dec. 18.

Spain Park, Chelsea and Briarwood Christian all went down one classification, with Spain Park and Chelsea moving down to Class 6A and Briarwood shifting back to Class 5A.

On the other end, Montevallo and Indian Springs both moved up a classification, while every other county school stayed put, which was big news for Helena, who was the largest 6A classification during the previous reclassification.

Spain Park will move down to Class 6A in all fall sports after being part of Class 7A for the last few reclassification cycles. They will move into Class 6A, Region 3 for football and Class 6A, Area 8 for volleyball.

Joining the Jaguars in Class 6A, Region 3 for football and Class 6A, Area 8 for volleyball is Chelsea, which was long expected to move down after rezoning by Shelby County Schools led to a portion of Chelsea students moving into Oak Mountain’s zone.

The Hornets were in Class 6A prior to moving up to Class 7A in 2022. In football, they went 1-9 in 2021 and 2-8 in 2022 while in a difficult Class 7A, Region 3. Chelsea’s volleyball team was unable to make it out of its area into super regionals both years but put together successful seasons despite its tough area.

Class 6A, Region 3 will consist of Calera, Chelsea, Helena, Pelham and Spain Park from Shelby County, and they will be joined by Benjamin Russell and Chilton County, which both stayed put in reclassification. Class 6A, Area 8 for volleyball will only contain Shelby County teams, as Chelsea, Helena, Pelham and Spain Park will battle it out for playoff spots.

Notably missing from that group is Briarwood, which moved down to Class 5A in football and volleyball. The Lions have historically been a Class 5A powerhouse but did find some success in Class 6A, reaching the second round of the football playoffs in three of the last four years and super regionals in volleyball in 2023.

In football, Briarwood will join Class 5A, Region 5, where it will face Center Point, Corner, Carver-Birmingham, Hayden, John Carroll Catholic, Ramsay and Wenonah. In volleyball, the Lions’ area will contain Shelby County, Central Clay County and Sylacauga.

The Lions will remain in Class 6A for cross-country due to competitive balance after their girls varsity team finished runners-up at the 2023 state championship. They will compete with Parker, Gardendale, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Jackson-Olin, Pelham, Shades Valley, Spain Park and Woodlawn in Class 6A, Section 4.

Briarwood isn’t the only team joining Class 5A, as Montevallo has been promoted from Class 4A. The Bulldogs will join rival Shelby County in Class 5A, Region 3 for football, along with Demopolis, Jemison, Selma and fellow promoted programs Northside and Sipsey Valley.

For volleyball, Montevallo will face Demopolis, Jemison and Selma in Class 5A, Area 5.

The other promoted school was Indian Springs, which will move into Class 4A, Area 7 for volleyball and face Fairfield, Oak Grove and Pleasant Grove in area play and Class 4A, Section 2 for cross-country to face 13 other schools for a spot at state.

While Thompson and Oak Mountain both remained in Class 7A, their football region and volleyball areas underwent some big changes.

Replacing Spain Park and Chelsea in Class 7A, Region 3 for football are Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Prattville. The Warriors and Eagles will continue to face Hewitt-Trussville, Hoover, Tuscaloosa County and Vestavia Hills in region play. The same schools will make up Class 7A, Section 3 for cross country.

As for volleyball, after spending the last two years in separate areas, Thompson and Oak Mountain will both share Class 7A, Area 6 with Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Hoover and Tuscaloosa County.

After nearly entering Class 7A in 2021 due to enrollment numbers, Helena was widely rumored to be moving up a classification in all fall sports. However, the Huskies will remain in Class 6A for the next two years.

Calera, Shelby County, Vincent and Westminster at Oak Mountain all remained in their respective classifications in the announcement.

Vincent saw a shakeup to its region for football, as the Jackets will now face Aliceville, Greene County, Isabella, Lamar County, Sulligent and Tuscaloosa Academy in Class 2A, Region 5. In Class 2A, Area 9 for volleyball, Vincent and Westminster OM will now compete in a four-team area with Cornerstone Schools of Alabama and Holy Family Catholic.

In volleyball, Calera will continue to face Benjamin Russell and Chilton County in Class 6A, Area 5, and for cross-country, they will match up with Benjamin Russell, Chilton County, Park Crossing, Pike Road, Rehobeth, Russell County, Stanhope Elmore and Wetumpka in Class 6A, Section 2.

Elsewhere for cross-country, Montevallo, Shelby County and Westminster OM will face Center Point, Corner, Demopolis, Carver-Birmingham, Hayden, John Carroll, Leeds, Northside, Sipsey Valley and Wenonah in Class 5A, Section 2.