The PickrenZONE

Realignment 2000
by Dave Pickren
January 21, 2000

Well, well, well.

The powers that be or the numskulls in charge have proven once again that they lack the testosterone or fortitude to make a bold decision and realign the 4A regions in a way that makes sense. A school from Charleston (which have lost over 800 students in the past 12 years) goes up to the capitol and cries and all of a sudden there are changes. How can one school with a steadily declining enrollment make such a huge impact? I guess when the school drops below 1000 students they will accept the fact and start looking to 3A opponents for natural rivalries.

Rumor has it that there could have been as many as 13 different 4A schools in Columbia yesterday to appeal the proposed 4A realignment. Already mentioned was Berkeley but they don't share the crybaby award by themselves.

Lancaster was there to make sure they were not placed in the new Region 2. They cited travel. I cite the 5 automatic L's they would have had if they had been in Region 2. Of course the Bruins have not exactly been tearing up Region 4 the past few years. One trip to Dorman this year for a playoff thrashing made Lancaster realize that they did not want anything to do with Region 2.

Byrnes on the other hand wanted to be in Region 2. They cite natural rivals and the fact they lose big gates when they are not in the region with Dorman, Spartanburg, and Gaffney. Money is more important than wins in some cases. Of course when Byrnes was AAA and previously in Region 1, they always played Dorman, Spartanburg, Union and Gaffney for the non-region games but why let the facts get in the way of the truth.

Other schools hated the 6 teams regions. Hard to schedule they said. Crybabies I say. All the Athletic Directors has to do is schedule 6 non-conference games every 2 years. 

Geez.

I guess teaching Drivers Ed and being the AD is too tough. Try a day in my shoes pal. There are 199 schools that play football on the state. Many schools are located within a few miles of North Carolina or Georgia. There are great resources on the Internet available. Scheduling 6 non-region games should not be that hard. Of course the SCHSL could make it easy and get id of the stupid point system and let a team like Lexington play Batesburg or Greenwood play Abbeville and Emerald without the worry of costing themselves precious points by playing AA teams.

Dutch Fork probably appealed liked they have in the past wanting to be in the upstate region with Irmo. They got the shaft as being the newer school. Probably a legitimate gripe but they had no chance of moving Lexington or any other school to the lower state.

A few of the Charleston schools wanted the 12 team super region back but there was no way that was going to happen after the scheduling mess last time. I can't blame the smaller 4A schools in Charleston however. Knowing that every year you will play Summerville, Stratford, Berkeley and Walterboro is great for the attendance gate and getting a couple of those at home is even better. Football still supports around 80% of all the athletic teams in most high schools. Summerville brings big crowds and at $5 a head, you can cover the cost of many soccer, volleyball, baseball and other sports teams that are not self sufficient.

Summerville was there to make sure there was not a 12-team super region. After going 11-0 in 1998 and receiving a 2 seed behind a 9-2 Sumter team, it was a good bet that McKissick was not going to play in a region which dictated a point system that would include 5 or 6 losing records by non big 16 schools. Look for Summerville to try and schedule some Big 16 schools to help their point system total and the seeding. No more trips to the Reservation for them.

So what do we have now?

The Good
Region 2 is back and will be the strongest in the state and maybe the Southeast.

Region 6 is no longer a 12-team region

The Bad
7 regions. Are regions 3 and 4 upper or lower state? How many teams are in each part of the state? If the point system continues (and it will) how do you seed teams in Upper and Lower state geographically. How in the world are they going to set up the playoffs with 7 regions and no true definition of Upper and Lower State? Another bonehead decision made by those who don't think this thing all the way through. 

The Breakdown
Region 1   Region 1 is a joke and has been for 20 years. If Greenwood ever loses a region game then they should be shot. At least they schedule big in the non-region by playing Abbeville, Spartanburg and Gaffney. 

During the past alignment Region 1 played a game each week against Region 2. Likewise the 2 regions played each other in many non-region encounters early in the season. Region 2 defeated Region 1 39 times over the past 2 year while only losing 5 and the majority of the games were not even close.

Region 3   This region is not very appealing. Lexington is about to drop considerably in football talent over the next 5 years. People there think Satterfield can save them but every school in the past 10 years that has been split in 2 for the construction of a new school has suffered greatly in football. In fact most schools have taken 4 to 6 years to recover back to the former selves. It is simply a numbers game and Lexington will lose 1350 this fall.

The Evidence
Ft. Dorchester from Summerville (Summerville had losing seasons in the mid 90's) 
Emerald from Greenwood (The Eagles took 7 years and a certain Mr. Logan to return to power)
Dutch Fork from Irmo (Irmo is still not back to being a power.)
Ridge View from Spring Valley and Richland Northeast (Both schools are mediocre & Ridge View has played for a state title)
Carolina Forest from Conway (Conway is currently a mess)

In the first season the number of wins for the existing school after the new school starts varsity football is 6. That is a long way from what the  Wildcats have posted the past few years and should be a sobering thought for the Wildcats.

So if this holds true for Lexington then the 1300 (or more) students pulled from Wildcat Hollow will make LHS fall on hard times until they get the numbers back up. On the other hand White Knoll should do well in 3A for the next 2 years prior to going to 4A in 2 years. No one is sure exactly how many students will attend White Knoll next year but sources say they may be expecting up to 1550 when they open next year. Current 9th and 10th graders that live in the White Knoll area will have a choice to continue at Lexington or attend their new school. The final numbers that will choose the new school is unknown and with the tremendous growth in Lexington both schools will be pushing 2500 students very quickly. The SCHSL just sidestepped that issue for 2 years by making White Knoll a 3A school this year but in 2 years there will be a new 4A school in Columbia.

Region 6 and 7 teams will push once again to play cross bracket football to make 11 games.


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