Justin Jones felt a change was coming.
On Tuesday it happened — Cordova High School moved up to Class 5A, ushering in a new era for a school that has long competed in lower classifications.
Though the Blue Devils are going to see a higher level of competition, Jones, the Cordova head football coach, is only thinking positives.
“We knew it was coming about a month ago. We weren’t caught off guard. We just didn’t know where they would send us,” Jones said. “Cordova wants to be more state recognized again. That’s the great thing about what we are fixing to do.”
Cordova and Jasper were the two area schools to move up in AHSAA reclassification. Jasper went from 5A to 6A. Dora dropped a classification to 4A and Curry remained in 4A, leaving Cordova as the largest school in the Walker County system.
The Blue Devils will compete in 5A, Region 6 with state runner up Pleasant Grove (13-2 in 2019), Ramsay (10-3), Parker (5-6), Wenonah (3-6), Fairfield (3-7) and Carver (1-9).
Cordova has faced two of the programs previously, splitting games with Pleasant Grove in 2016-17 and playing John Carroll from 1951-58.
All seven of Cordova’s region opponents have been playing in either Class 5A or 6A for years, including Ramsay, which restarted its program in 2012 and won a Class 6A title in 2016.
“I enjoy a challenge,” Jones said. “All I’ve heard is nobody in Walker County ever gets recruited. You don’t have to worry about that now. We will be across the front page in Birmingham. On any given Friday, you will have SEC and ACC coaches watching you play. Coaches from Division I all the way down to FCS schools will be watching.
“For us, one — we are embracing it; two — we’re excited about the publicity for the program; three — if you are a big-time player, Cordova is the place to be.”
Jones’ first year at Cordova, included five straight losses to start the season. The Blue Devils got hot starting with a win over Oakman, winning their last five regular-season games. Class 4A state runner up Jacksonville knocked Cordova out of the playoffs in the opening round.
“The way we finished was really positive. We have a lot coming back, but it’s hard to judge that now. We are moving into unchartered territory,” Jones said.
“In Cordova’s history, people were worried when Cordova moved from to 2A to 3A, and Cordova won in 3A. People were worried when Cordova moved from 3A to 4A — Cordova won in 4A. Now people are worried we are moving again. We will get it figured out in 5A.”