August 29, 2005
Forsyth - In south Georgia, high school football is a way of life.
That is why communities take pride when their school hosts a state championship game.
That tradition will end at least for one year and perhaps longer.
The Georgia High School Association executive committee approved Monday playing the state championship games in 2006 at neutral sites.
Those sites will be selected by Dr. Ralph Swearingen with location determined by the two teams participating.
The executive committee tabled a plan that called for playing semifinal games in 2007 at neutral sites and playing the state championship games in 2007 at the Georgia Dome.
They will take up the issue again in the spring.
Media relations director Steve Figueroa says the GHSA wants to try playing finals at neutral sites and at the dome to see which plan would be the best.
Figueroa says many high school stadiums in Georgia simply do not meet new GHSA seating requirements.
The big change this year is that schools cannot count temporary seats to meet the minimum standards.
Some coaches also are complaining that the host team has an unfair advantage in a state championship game.
The right to host a state title game has been pre-determined if both teams have the same seed in the playoffs.
Unless the start of the school year is moved back next summer, then the tradition of football camp will be over for most teams.
The GHSA has approved pushing the start of the 2006 season back two weeks.
Conditioning workouts, that this year started on July 18th, will start on August 7th and full pad practices will begin a week later.
The first regular season game cannot begin until September 1st and will end on the weekend of November 11th.
The playoffs will start the following week and state championship games will be played December 15th and 16th in 2006.
The GHSA also approved doing away with the 1.5 qualifier for private schools starting in 2008.
The GHSA had to adopt the qualifier, which requires private schools to multiply their enrollment by 1.5, under pressure from former House Speaker Tom Murphy.