SCHSL’s realignment plan saves local region rivalries

schslAfter much debate and discussion of the South Carolina High School League’s move to a five-classication, the only real impact Monday’s proposal made on Grand Strand schools was the addition of an “A” to their current region affiliations.

Carolina Forest, Conway and Socastee will go from Region 6-4A to Region 6-5A in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 scholastic years, while Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and St. James go from Region 7-3A to Region 7-4A.

Keeping the trio of local schools together signals a victory for their athletics budgets if not the competitive balance of the regions. Carolina Forest faced the real possibility of joining an all-Charleston area region that would have created significant cost to the schools travel budget.

Instead, the SCHSL moved the entire region up, with Sumter, Summerville and West Florence rounding out the lineup. The move creates tough matchups for Conway and Socastee, respectively the two smallest schools in Class 5A.

Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and St. James remain together, along with long-standing region rival Wilson. However, the SCHSL added a state football power in place of Lake City, with Marlboro County moving up to the five-team Region 7-4A. The Bulldogs and Seahawks have a long history of meeting in the Lower State playoffs, with the winner advancing to the state title game.

But from a financial standpoint, Monday’s proposal serves as a victory for local schools. Not only does it save money on travel, but the extra games against traditional region rivals results in bigger gates and crowds. Teams can appeal their placement in six weeks but the SCHSL rarely honors requests unless the school can make a convincing case that the switch will create a major hardship for its athletic programs.

Class 5A (42 schools)
Region 1: Easley, J.L. Mann, T.L. Hanna, Westside, Woodmont.
Region 2: Greenwood, Hillcrest, Laurens, Mauldin, Riverside, Wade Hampton (G).
Region 3: Boiling Springs, Byrnes, Dorman, Gaffney, Spartanburg.
Region 4: Clover, Fort Mill, Nation Ford, Northwestern, Rock Hill.
Region 5: Blythewood, Dutch Fork, Irmo, Lexington, River Bluff, Spring Valley, White Knoll.
Region 6: Carolina Forest, Conway, Socastee, South Florence, Sumter, West Florence.
Region 7: Ashley Ridge, Fort Dorchester, Goose Creek, James Island, Stratford, Summerville, Wando, West Ashley.

Class 4A (42 schools)
Region 1: Belton-Honea Path, Daniel, Greenville, Pickens, Wren.
Region 2: Blue Ridge, Eastside, Greer, Travelers Rest, Union County.
Region 3: Lancaster, Ridge View, Richland Northeast, South Pointe, Westwood, York.
Region 4: Aiken, Airport, Midland Valley, North Augusta, South Aiken.
Region 5: A.C. Flora, Chapin, Dreher, Lower Richland, Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
Region 6: Crestwood, Darlington, Hartsville, Lakewood, Lugoff-Elgin.
Region 7: Marlboro County, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, St. James, Wilson.
Region 8: Beaufort, Berkeley, Cane Bay, Colleton County, Hilton Head, Stall.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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