Despite enrollment figures staying about the same at Elba High School in grades 10-12, the Tigers have been dropped to Class 1A from 2A in athletics, it was announced Thursday by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
The realignment is a two-year commitment beginning with the 2018-19 school year.
“It was no shock and surprise,” Elba Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Ed Rigby said. “The numbers were only about eight different for us from last (realignment). But it is what it is. We were four places from the bottom in 2A and now we’re about three places (actually six) from the top in 1A. It’s the (other schools) around you that fluctuate.”
Recently, Elba won the 2014 Class 2A basketball championship and the 2015 2A football title. In fact, in his five years at the helm of the football program at Elba, Ed Rigby has compiled a 53-12 record.
Elba will join Coffee County’s Kinston High School in football’s 1A Region 2, along with Brantley, Georgiana, McKenzie, Red Level, Pleasant Home and Florala.
Elba will join Kinston, Brantley and Florala in Area 3 in baseball and basketball, and the Tigers will be in Area 3 in volleyball with Kinston and Brantley.
Rigby said he and his staff expected the move a while back, but when he was told it would become official he talked to his players Wednesday.
“We’ve been playing up anyway every chance we could in all of our sports,” Rigby said. “Actually, we have more kids out than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. Two years from now we may be right back at 2A… and probably will be.”
Elba will play Class 3A Wicksburg in a preseason Jamboree, open at 3A Opp, later play at 2A G.W. Long and end the regular season at Florida 6A Pensacola Tate, a place Rigby was once the head coach. During Rigby’s tenure at Elba, the Tigers beat then-Class 6A Carroll of Ozark in back-to-back seasons.
“Pensacola will be a business trip so that we won’t be shell-shocked when and if we have to go on the road in the playoffs,” Rigby said. “That will be a good challenge for us. “
Of all of those schools, only Brantley (2013) has played Elba since Rigby became head coach of the Tigers.
“The kids were like, ‘Oh, ok.’ They were real nonchalant. They’ll still work hard in the offseason and play hard in the fall. It will be a bunch of teams we’ve not played.”
Class 2A’s Region 3 in football will include New Brockton, Zion Chapel, Luverne, Goshen, Highland Home, Central-Hayneville, Calhoun and newcomer Samson.
Teams will have a choice of opening their football seasons on Aug. 24 or Aug. 31.