As football coaches and athletic directors, White Knoll’s Dean Howell and Irmo’s Reggie Kennedy found things easier when making their schedules for the upcoming season.
That’s because the South Carolina High School League went to five classifications and a 10-game schedule for all teams for 2016-18. White Knoll and Irmo are part of seven-team Region 5-5A, which includes all of the Midlands teams in Class 5A. The other teams are Dutch Fork, Lexington, Spring Valley, River Bluff and Blythewood.
The region should be travel-friendly during region play with the longest one-way trip of 32.9 miles.
“The seven-team region made scheduling a lot easier and I think gate receipts should increase,” Kennedy said. “I like the region that we are in and the high level of competition that have been created by the region.”
In previous years, Class 4A schools played 11 games and had to come up with six or seven non-region games. There also was a points system involved which determined the playoff seeds.
Most of the Midlands teams stayed in the area when scheduling non-region opponents.
Howell and White Knoll went outside the Midlands, scheduling North Augusta, Aiken and South Aiken. But the Timberwolves were in the same region with North Augusta and South Aiken last year and it’s not a far trip for either of the matchups.
“It’s been the smoothest year for me as far as scheduling,” Howell said. “We had existing relationships with the schools and were a natural fit when we were looking to make out our schedule.
Region 5-5A will be in the Lower State, with the top five teams in the region making the playoffs. The sixth-place team has a shot at receiving the at-large bid between the seventh-place team from eight-team Region 7-5A and fifth-place team from Region 6-5A. A committee will determine the at-large team.
While the 5A schools are in the same region, the other Midlands schools are spread out in their classes. In 4A, A.C. Flora Dreher, Chapin and Lower Richland move up and will be in 5-4A like they were in 3A with the exception of Orangeburg-Wilkinson, which takes the spot occupied by Richland Northeast.
RNE, which lost its appeal to move into 5-4A, goes into 3-4A with Ridge View and Westwood with South Pointe, Lancaster and York. That region should be strong for football with South Pointe, the defending 3A champion, and York and Lancaster expected to do well.
“We are hopefully on upward trend it is a good brand of football in that region. I like it,” Ridge View coach Perry Parks said. “I don’t want to play in a soft region that doesn’t prepare you for the playoffs. You come out of the region you have chance to win state championship the next two years.
Airport is the lone Midlands team in Region 4-4A with Aiken, Midland Valley, North Augusta and South Aiken. Lugoff-Elgin’s the lone Midlands team in Region 6-4A and will be with Hartsville, Darlington, Lakewood and Crestwood.
Columbia, Fairfield Central, Pelion, Newberry and Mid-Carolina jump Class 3A. Columbia and Fairfield are in Region 5-3A and with Camden, Chester and Indian Land. Columbia will have an average trip in the region of 52 miles.
Pelion’s in Region 4-3A with Brookland-Cayce, Gilbert, Swansea, Edisto and Strom Thurmond. B-C, Gilbert and Swansea were in Class 3A last season.
Gray Collegiate, in its second year, will go from Class A to 2A. It will be joined in Region 3-2A by C.A. Johnson, Eau Claire, Keenan, Fox Creek and Saluda. Keenan’s the biggest school in 2A with 698 students.
Batesburg-Leesville will stay in Class 2A and is the lone Midlands team in Region 5-2A with Allendale-Fairfax, Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Barnwell, Calhoun County and Silver Bluff.
SCHSL 2016-18 REALIGNMENT
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.
Class 3A (44 schools)
Region 1: Crescent, Pendleton, Seneca, Walhalla, West-Oak.
Region 2: Berea, Carolina, Emerald, Palmetto, Powdersville, Southside.
Region 3: Broome, Chapman, Clinton, Mid-Carolina, Newberry, Woodruff.
Region 4: Camden, Chester, Columbia, Fairfield Central, Indian Land.
Region 5: Brookland-Cayce, Edisto, Gilbert, Pelion, Strom Thurmond, Swansea.
Region 6: Aynor, Dillon, Lake City, Loris, Waccamaw, Georgetown
Region 7: Bishop England, Hanahan, Lake Marion, Manning, Timberland.
Region 8: Battery Creek, Bluffton, May River, Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Wade Hampton (H).
Class 2A (44 schools)
Region 1: Blacksburg, Chesnee, Christ Church, Greer Middle College*, Landrum, St. Joseph’s.
Region 2: Abbeville, Brashier Middle College*, Greenville Tech Charter*, Liberty, Ninety-Six, Southside Christian.
Region 3: C.A. Johnson, Eau Claire, Fox Creek, Gray Collegiate, Keenan, Saluda.
Region 4: Andrew Jackson, Buford, Central, Cheraw, Chesterfield, Lee Central, North Central.
Region 5: Allendale-Fairfax, Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Barnwell, Batesburg-Leesville, Calhoun County, Silver Bluff.
Region 6: Academic Magnet, Burke, Garrett, North Charleston, Whale Branch, Woodland.
Region 7: Andrews, Carvers Bay, Johnsonville, Kingstree, Latta, Marion, Mullins.
1A (41 schools)
Region 1: Calhoun Falls, Dixie, High Point Academy*, McCormick, South Carolina School for Deaf and Blind*, Tamassee-Salem*, Ware Shoals, Whitmire.
Region 2: Governor’s School*, Great Falls, Lamar, Lewisville, McBee, Timmonsville.
Region 3: Blackville-Hilda, Denmark-Olar, Estill, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, North, Ridge Spring-Monetta, Wagener-Salley, Williston-Elko.
Region 4: Baptist Hill, Charleston Charter, Lincoln, Low Country Leadership*, Military Magnet, Palmetto Scholars*, Royal Live Oaks*, St. Johns.
Region 5: Bethune-Bowman, Branchville, C.E. Murray, Cross, Scott’s Branch.
Region 6: Creek Bridge, East Clarendon, Green Sea-Floyds, Hannah-Pamplico, Hemingway, Lake View.
*Doesn’t have football program