By DANNY P. SMITH
There wasn't a surprise in the Starkville High School athletic camp with the release of the new Mississippi High School Activities Association reclassification listing on Wednesday.
SHS dropped from Class 6A where it spent the last couple of years down to Class 5A. The Yellowjackets look forward to competition beginning in 2011.
"We're excited about it," SHS Athletic Director Stan Miller said. "We looked at every one of our sports and we can compete well."
Starkville stands second in Class 5A listing with an enrollment of 1,060, while Callaway is first with an enrollment of 1,079.
According to the MHSAA website, schools can appeal their new classifications through Monday by “submitting in writing a breakdown of the total enrollment that caused an error in the State Department of Education’s report.”
It had been anticipated for weeks that the Jackets would be moving down in class, but didn't expect to learn of the transition until the week of the state championship football games in early December.
"They've just released the numbers to let anyone that's going to appeal have the chance to do that before they set the districts," SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell said.
The only thing left to be determined is which schools will be grouped in the same division as the Jackets.
Miller said nothing has been finalized but believes Starkville will either be in a northwest division with teams like West Point, Lake Cormorant, Hernando, Saltillo and Center Hill, or more of a Jackson region with Pearl, Ridgeland, Callaway, Provine and Yazoo City.
Mitchell likes the sound of that either way the MHSAA decides to go after having to compete against the likes of South Panola, Olive Branch, Southaven and Columbus.
"We won't see those folks on the schedule anymore so it will be a different situation," Mitchell said. "When we only had five classifications, Starkville spent a year or so 4A. You look at that and know we've been on the borderline of classifications changes.
"It will be a change in scenery no matter which way we go (as far as division). Football-wise it's going to be new teams, new rivalries and that's always exciting."
Other MHSAA schools in The Starkville Daily News coverage area will remain in their current classifications with Ackerman, Eupora, and East Webster remaining in Class 2A, while East Oktibbeha and West Oktibbeha stay in Class A.
The new classifications will last through 2013.
As reported previously in the SDN, Starkville Academy will also change divisions beginning in 2011.
Volunteers head football coach Jeff Terrill confirmed earlier this month that SA would jump from the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools’ Class AAA-I North to Class AAA-II South.
(Editor's Note: Starkville Daily News prep writer Joel Coleman contributed to this story.)