Q&A with GHSA associate director Denis Tallini
The GHSA’s latest reclassification has produced changes to lacrosse. The new classifications are 6A-7A and A-5A and, for the first time in league history, one of the classifications (6A-7A) will feature a 32-team playoff field. AJC lacrosse beat writer Adam Krohn recently spoke with GHSA associate director Denis Tallini, who serves as the GHSA’s administrator for lacrosse. Tallini discusses the changes to lacrosse and how they’ll impact the sport moving forward.
Krohn: Talk about the decision to expand one of the classification brackets to a 32-team field.
Tallini: It’s for the largest classification, 6A-7A. We felt it was the best thing to do to maintain the number of qualifiers with increase in schools for that classification. With A-5A classification now having fewer schools,(a 32-team playoff field) wasn’t as practical, so we stayed with 16 qualifiers.
K: One of the positives to a 32-team field is that it mirrors other sports, including football and basketball.
T: It does mirror that and it makes it a lot simpler. It gives more programs the opportunity to participate in the postseason. By combining the 6A and 7A classifications, that increased the number of participating schools, so expanding to a 32-team field was logical, and it certainly gives programs a greater incentive to compete. Before, there were some quality No. 5 and No. 6 teams (in a given area) that weren’t making the playoffs, but this gives them a chance to get in and prove themselves, and it gives them an opportunity to reach the championship.
K: How did the reclassification process unfold?
T: We’re on a four-year cycle and it was voted on last year by the executive committee. Schools have the option to review their placement every two years if it has a significant Full Time Enrollment number change. With the reclassification cycle, it’s our job here at the (GHSA) office to take the rules passed to us by the committee and implement them the best that we can when we’re creating area alignments. In lacrosse, we did the best we could to align the areas to mirror the regions. Some schools are aligned differently because of geography, but we followed the alignment pretty well in the larger classification.
K: How do the numbers vary from last year’s classification, when it was A-AAAAA and AAAAAA?
T: With the new classification, there are 62 schools for the boys and girls in 6A-7A, and 46 girls schools and 44 boys schools for A-5A. In the previous classification, there were 42 boys and girls schools in AAAAAA and 62 girls schools and 59 boys schools for A-AAAAA.
Last year, we were contemplating changing the smaller class’ bracket to a 32-team field, but with a reclassification coming, we waited to see how that affected things. When we saw the new alignment, that confirmed what we wanted to do with a 32-team bracket.
K: With football and basketball, the later rounds are played at a neutral site. Will that be the case for lacrosse?
T: Both classes will play the championship game at Lakewood Stadium. We’re excited about having a centralized venue to present the finals in, because we were looking for a way to showcase the sport while eliminating some of the home-field advantages from past seasons.