It's going to be a financial strain unlike any encountered before at Thomson High School.
And it's not that far away. In fact, it all begins next year with the new realignment by the Georgia High School Association that keeps Thomson a Class AAA power, but drastically realigns the region makeup.
"It's going to be more competitive, but it's going to be costly, too," Thomson High Athletic Director Luther Welsh told The McDuffie Mirror on Tuesday morning. "It's not a good thing, because it's going to involve a lot more travel and gasoline. Overall, it's just not a good thing. We need to be playing area teams close to us."
That won't happen for at least the next two years, when the next reclassification could happen. Thomson High School will be losing five of six of their current region foes as a direct result of those schools deciding to move up in classification - the Class AAAA ranks. Those schools include Augusta-area foes Hephzibah, Butler, Glenn Hills, Cross Creek and Harlem. Meanwhile, Benedictine of Savannah will moving down to Class AA.
Coach Welsh said he doesn't fault those five schools from moving up in classification.
"They did what was good for them," Coach Welsh said. "I'm sure they did it because of financial reasons."
As a result of the new region makeup, competition will be more keen, but the financial costs of traveling back and forth to games much greater.
"It's going to be completely different for us now that we have been placed in Class AAA Region 3," Coach Welsh said. "Two of the schools in the new region are down in Savannah. That's a long way to travel for ballgames."
In sports other than football, it will mean student/athletes having to get out of school early so they can arrive for games on time, Coach Welsh explained.
"It's also going to mean that only our varsity teams will be playing these far away games," Coach Welsh said. "Our junior varsity teams won't be able to travel to those games, because of time constraints. Coaches for those teams will just have to pick up games closer home."
The new Region 3 finds Thomson playing against the following schools: Baldwin County, Burke County, Liberty County, Richmond Hill, Washington County and West Laurens.
"We should never have been playing in a sub-division region," Coach Welsh said. "I like the fact that we will be playing more competitive teams than we have been in the past. And I like being able to play Burke County again. That's a good rivalry for us."
Coach Welsh has been busy the last couple of days attempting to line up four non-region football opponents for next season.
"I'm hoping we can continue to play Washington-Wilkes and Jefferson County," he noted. "I don't think I'll have trouble getting a third game scheduled, but that fourth one is going to be hard to get."