Page Two: Public-private split in Class A? Former player says bad idea

By Mario Alford
As told to S. Thomas Coleman for the AJC

I think the public and private schools should keep competing against each other because you always want to play against the best competition you can and find out who is the best.

When I was competing at Greenville, Brookstone and St. Anne-Pacelli were in our region all four years I was there. I remember the first time we went to those schools to play when I was a freshman. Pacelli’s facility was okay, but Brookstone looked like a college. We were all on the bus, looking around at the campus and the football stadium. None of us had ever seen anything like that at a high school.

Our coach told us to get focused. We lost the game (31-8), but it wasn’t because we were still thinking about how nice the school and the facility looked. We just weren’t a very good team that year and Brookstone was good, very good. I think they won the region that year. We lost to Pacelli that year, too (36-20).

My sophomore year we lost to Brookstone again but the game was closer (14-13) and we beat Pacelli (44-8). Brookstone was good. Pacelli wasn’t. I think Brookstone won the region championship again that year. The reason we lost to them didn’t have anything to do with the fact that they were a private school and we were a public school. They were just better than we were … and I wasn’t playing quarterback and didn’t have the ball in hands on every play.

But my junior year we beat Brookstone (27-25) and Pacelli (40-14). We had a good team and I was playing quarterback. We won the region and went to the playoffs. My senior year we beat Brookstone (14-10) and Pacelli (41-21) again.

In basketball they didn’t compete as well against us as they did in football, especially my junior and senior year when we were really good. I don’t think we ever lost to Brookstone and we maybe lost to Pacelli one time while I was at Greenville. (Note: Greenville was 8-0 against Brookstone and 7-1 against Pacelli in the four years that Alford was there.)

In track, I never lost a race to anybody from a private school.

As far as our coaches were concerned, they never told us we have to go out and beat these private schools. They didn’t tell us anything special when we played a private school. As players, we thought about it a little bit but it wasn’t a big deal. We wanted to win every game we played, whether it was against a private school or a public school. That didn’t matter to us.

We looked at private schools as just another team. If they were a good team, we really focused on playing as well as we could and beating them. It they weren’t a good team, we concentrated on making sure that we didn’t overlook them.

It doesn’t matter to me much now because I’m not in high school anymore. But I don’t see why the public schools and private schools won’t play each other now. I think they should play. You always want to find out who is the best.

Mario Alford is a running back/receiver/kick and punt returner at Georgia Military College, where he competed for the Bulldogs last season after graduating from Greenville High School in 2011. Alford was a four-year varsity letter winner in football, basketball and track at Greenville, where he started at quarterback his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, Alford was the Class A champion in the 100 meters in a time of 10.77. As a senior point guard, he led the Patriot basketball team to a 27-4 record, a region championship and the state semi finals, after his last second driving layup propelled Greenville to a 77-75 win over Wilcox County. After a stellar season at GMC, where he ended up after qualifying late, Alford is now being courted by several Division I schools, including Georgia.

28 comments Add your comment

MR is a Hypocrite

February 26th, 2012
8:19 am

If the public school coaches get any more afraid of competition they will soon propose to quit keeping score

russ

February 26th, 2012
8:42 am

The private schools and the city schools should be in a league by themselves. City schools are just like private just cheaper. I am not that familiar with Brookstone and Pacelli but it doesn’t sound like they are recruiting as hard as GAC , Wesleyen and Lovett.

Monroe's First Redcoat

February 26th, 2012
8:54 am

The separate public-private playoff brackets is the most harebrained idea the GHSA has foisted on Georgia since its inception. The old Murphy Multiplier, as flawed as it was, was head-and-shoulders above this garbage.

Kman

February 26th, 2012
10:37 am

Cmon people…..give it a rest! ONE game…TWO sets of rules…you KNOW thats not fair, but you steadily complain because the EDGE you HAD…is now gone! How about NOBODY recruits players, since public schools cant do it….then lets see how much talk you have to complain about then!

TomDawg

February 26th, 2012
10:59 am

To Russ, that’s the problem you idiot the public schools can’t recruit!

Realtruth

February 26th, 2012
11:03 am

There is an unintended consequence to the knee jerk reaction from GHSA stance on the 30 or so South Georgie teams. The private school parents pay public school tuition plus the private tuition. Eventually, legal action or legislative action will occur based on GHSA stance. Millions of dollars could be lost to the public school systems around the state. GHSA should be more proactive enforcing the rules. If you think every kid should get a metal for every sport they are in, move to another country. Hard work made this country! Not the wussification of America.

Kman

February 26th, 2012
11:49 am

Realtruth….you are correct…private school parents do pay public school taxes as well as their on….but thats only because they are residents of Georgia. We ALL pay those taxes! What you failed to mention is ….the private schools also RECIEVE benefits and compensation from the Board of Education as well as public schools. So whats your point,…people that dont have big money should sit back and be quiet and accept whatever? Just because a person has big money doesnt make that kid any better than another kid that does not! We all bleed red blood if we get cut! FAIRNESS is RULES that apply to EVERYONE….Its about time we have STRUCTURE!

Tom

February 26th, 2012
11:58 am

Private schools are generally eligible to take any student from any geographic location. Public schools are limited-they must take the people who live in their geographic area. That’s one major point. A second is the fact that private schools (and some public schools) attract good players, through direct or indirectly recruiting. That cannot usually be done with South Georgia public schools, who work with a base of lower employment and fewer housing opportunities. I respect the private schools in the Columbus area that take whatever students choose to attend their school and work with them. I have no respect for the schools that accept “transfers” from other schools because they have strong programs. Let the Wesleyan girls basketball team run up the score on some private school for a while. It’s amazing that a school can be amazingly predominantly white in their student body, but amazingly predominantly non-white in their athletic teams. Wonder how that happens?

yellowjacketfan

February 26th, 2012
1:39 pm

Thank you Mr. Alford for coming forward. GHSA needs to overturn the public private rule.

Russ

February 26th, 2012
2:55 pm

Tomdawg, thanks for the complement. My point was there are private schools which may not recruit but the majority does. I understand public schools can’t recruit which is why they need to be in their own league minus the city schools also.

Kman

February 26th, 2012
7:15 pm

Why does the GHSA need to change the public private rule? These schools can still compete with one another throughout the year…..its called a non-region game! But in the play-offs….let the public play public and private play private…where EACH team has the SAME rules apply to one another! WHAT IS SO UNFAIR ABOUT THAT? THE PLAYING FIELD IS NOW LEVEL!

Rick

February 27th, 2012
9:01 am

How fair is it that Washington-Wilkes had to travel to Atlanta to play Southwest Atl Christian who brought in 4 of 5 starters that attended another school last year? All of them are being recruited by colleges. Private schools in Metro Atlanta do this all the time, yet we are told that we should be able to “compete” with them. If we had somewhere to recruit from, maybe we could “compete” with them. The playing field is not level. I am not against private schools, but public schools shouldn’t have to compete with them in the playoffs.

Kman

February 27th, 2012
9:30 am

Rick…..I agree with you totally! 100%

B BALL FAN

February 27th, 2012
11:33 am

I do not care either way in this, but if you think public schools do not recruit then you have not watched Wheeler, and Milton basketball in the last decade. That is just 2 of many that recruit.

athensbball

February 27th, 2012
12:48 pm

Did anyone even notice how the Class-A bracket is drawn up? All of the private schools are in the bottom half of the bracket…meaning that only 2 Private schools…at best…will be able to make the final four. Sounds to me like they are split already????

Rockmart Needs a Coach

February 27th, 2012
12:50 pm

I like the rule. It was voted on by the members. If the private schools don’t like it start your own league, the threat from the public schools was enough to cause the vote, play your cards you were delt.

athensbball

February 27th, 2012
12:52 pm

@Kman: So should they just divide the brackets into schools that “can recruit” (private schools) and teams that “do recruit” (public schools like Milton and Wheeler) because I’m pretty sure that the south georgia public school teams dont enjoy playing an AAU team like Milton in the playoffs either. If you think that private schools are the only ones who recruit then ur not very observant, splitting will not make it any more level than it is now.

Tank

February 27th, 2012
7:56 pm

Brookstone and Pacelli are not strong private schools like GAC,Landmark Christian,Eagle Landing,Wesleyan,and Whitefield Aca.Private schools should play private schools because they recruit the best players and public schools can’t compete.And for all the public schools that do it GHSA should get more involved.

big papa

February 28th, 2012
7:52 pm

if u think public schoolscanot recruit u should talk to colquitt co ………….

That's Funny

February 28th, 2012
10:27 pm

Pretty soon the South GA Football Teams will require the Gwinnett Co Football Teams to only play each other in the playoffs.
Then Schools like Seminole Co will require Teams that that beat them one year to spot them 2 touchdowns the next year.
Then Private schools have to turn over the gate receipts and concessions to the public school that they play, plus spot them 3 touchdowns, and not bring their cheerleaders.

dawg

February 29th, 2012
11:32 am

One thing not mentioned is that the class A private schools in the Atlanta area make sure their enrollment does not excede the designated limit of students to remain in Class A. This is not a problem in AA or AAA or above with private schools and will not be because they are well established. The Private schools of Columbus and Augusta have a longer history of education than the newer private schools in the Atlanta Area except the larger AA and AAA private schools. As far as the brackets for class A goes in any sports..It proves that most of the private schools are in the north Georgia Regions… The only difference in the private schools and Buford, Calhoun, Gainesville, Carrollton as city schools is that a student can qualify for residents in the city schools and not pay tuition so if I am rich enough all I have to do is purchase property set up a residence or agree on a guardianship and let my kid go to those schools Same goes for Milton, Miller Grove, Wheeler etc. As far as the small private schools surrounded by Metro Atlanta, there is no comparison to the populations surrounding Baker Co. Wheeler Co. Telfair Co. and so on… This is what the suppporters of the private schools do not get….. Let one of the successful private school coaches see if they can build a program at Social Circle or Banks County.

Joe

February 29th, 2012
11:41 am

Enter your comments here

Joe

February 29th, 2012
11:48 am

Greenville High is not your typical public high school for a small county. Most of their kids live in the city limits. Manchester High in the same county is larger and also most of their kids are in the city limits. Greenville is more like a city school than most and since it is the county seat it has a high school if the remainder of the kids in the county are split up between the two high schools they both are a mixture of basically a typical public school and a typical public city school…In other words they both can compete with the smaller private schools in that area because the fact that there are two small schools in Merriweather county their students are in a closer demographic area to the schools than other small counties that have only one public high school. The best coaching is in these small schools because they have to develop talent not recruit it. Records sometime does not tell the real story.

athensbball

February 29th, 2012
1:27 pm

Last 7 Class-A Basketball State Champions: Public Schools had 4, Private Schools had 3. Sounds pretty even to me…This divison is all about FOOTBALL…dont waste your time arguing in here because the decision did not take into consideration any other sport than FOOTBALL.

bucket

February 29th, 2012
5:56 pm

@ athensbball – you are correct sir! Football is king in Georgia and a handful of A football coaches didn’t like the fact that they can’t dominate the classification anymore. The decision had nothing to do with the kids, it was all about the egos of adults. The multiplier would have helped the situation and enforcing transfer rules would have helped also (but the public schools benefit from that also!), but that handful of coaches couldn’t take the chance that they still couldn’t beat Savannah Christian next year.

Kman

March 1st, 2012
12:14 am

What I mean about public schools is that it is illegal to recruit players from out of the area without your paper work being correct! It HAS to be legal in a sense. I`m not saying some schools dont cheat….but on paper work….it gotta be right! Private schools dont have to hide its players or addresses. They can legally do what public schools cant….or should I say some public schools have to hide if they are cheating!

Kman

March 1st, 2012
12:25 am

What does everyone think about this idea…..I think it ought to be A new rule that if A student transfers to another school….he or she should have to sit out A year before being able to participate like they do in college. This would certainly stop A whole lot of this transferring around dont you think!

bucket

March 1st, 2012
8:52 am

@ Kman – the rules for transferring are the same for public vs. private. If a kid transfers into a private school they are supposed to sit out for the same time that a public school transfer has to. There is a kid at the private school my children attend who is having to sit out right now for that reason. I feel the pain of the public schools who assuming everyone does right can only play the kids that live in their district. I understand that private schools can pull from multiple counties and districts. However, a multiplier would have been a much fairer way to deal with that than just banishing privates from competing with the public schools in the playoffs. Our private school had a banner year last year in football, but I can assure you there is no gurantee that is going to happen on a year to year basis because they don’t recruit and they don’t accept GOAL scholarships.