The South Carolina High School League executive committee on Thursday denied Dreher and Richland Northeast’s appeals regarding the proposed realignment for the 2016-18 school year.
The committee voted 16-0 to reject Dreher’s appeal of wanting to move from the proposed Class 4A to Class 3A, while RNE’s appeal of switching from Region 3-4A to 5-4A was denied, 8-7.
RNE’s vote was the closest in the seven appeals heard. Schools can make a second and final appeal Wednesday before the seven-member appellate panel board. RNE athletics director Gary Fulmer said the school is likely to appeal the ruling.
“I’m confident we are going to appeal,” Fulmer said. “Sometimes, it is a matter of getting different people to hear you. With it being that close, I thought it was going to be 8-7 our way for a second.”
Under the proposed realignment, RNE was placed in 3-4A with Lancaster, Ridge View, South Pointe, Westwood and York. RNE is seeking to move into 5-4A with A.C. Flora, Chapin, Dreher, Lower Richland and Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
Fulmer and RNE’s argument was the amount of travel time and school time missed on trips to Lancaster, South Pointe and York.
All the schools in 5-4A were on board with RNE’s move while the schools from 3-4A were against it.
“The appeal wasn’t for us to win more games and be in a region that would be easier for us to win,” Fulmer said. “Our consideration was to keep kids in the class for as long as we can. “
While RNE’s appeal was based on travel concerns, Dreher’s was based on its enrollment compared with schools it would be playing in Class 4A. Dreher would be one of the smallest schools in 4A with a 135-day enrollment number of 1,102. Chapin, one of the team’s in Dreher’s region, is at 1,432.
Despite the numbers, Dreher has had success in most of its sports, including boys and girls basketball and girls soccer. But athletics director Mike Dubard said the smaller enrollment hurts the Blue Devils in football with lack of depth against the bigger schools.
Dubard said the school won’t appeal.
“We do very well in some sports, but Dreher hasn’t been known as a powerhouse in football for a long time,” Dubard said. “It has to do with numbers and with a smaller school population to draw from. We are the bottom end of 4A. We just had concern from parents and coaches and we felt like we had to address it.“
In addition to Dreher and RNE, appeals also were heard from Chester, Allendale-Fairfax, Southside Christian, Georgetown and Wilson.
Chester was the only one to win its appeal. Chester’s appeal was to swap Region 5-3A for 4-3A because 4-3A would be in the upper state. Region 4-3A will be made up Chester, Camden, Columbia, Fairfield Central and Indian Land. Region 5-3A, made up of Brookland-Cayce, Edisto, Gilbert, Pelion, Strom Thurmond and Swansea, will be in the lower state for playoff purposes.
After the final appeals are heard next week and the realignments finalized, postseason formats and how many teams will make the playoffs from each class will be addressed.