Soon, student-athletes at St. James will learn exactly “how the big boys (and girls) play.”
On Wednesday, the S.C. High School League (SCHSL) released its latest realignment plan for the state’s five classifications.
According to the proposal, St. James would move up to Class 5A, the largest division in South Carolina. Enrollment numbers estimate the school as the 41st statewide in terms of size, two above the cut line for placement in Class 4A.
The Sharks have been assigned to Region 5-5A, joining fellow Horry County schools Conway, Carolina Forest and Socastee in the league. Also expected to be part of the conference is South Florence, Sumter and West Florence.
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Starting next season, Class 4A will move to seven regions. As a result, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach will vacate their familiar digs in Region 7-4A for a new home in Region 6-4A.
It will also force them to take on Pee Dee foes such as Darlington and Hartsville, along with current league foes Marlboro County and Wilson.
“Just looking at it, it’s going to be a very tough region. Overall, there are a lot of teams with tradition, especially in football,” said Myrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson. “With us, I always like to have a tough schedule. With this region, your schedule is loaded on a weekly basis.”
Speaking of loaded, Region 6-3A was already relatively stacked to begin with. Already featuring the like of Dillon and Lake City, the conference will add Cheraw to its familiar lineup of Aynor and Loris. Marion will join the league after a stint in Class 2A.
Not part of Region 6-3A in the realignment proposal are Georgetown and Waccamaw. The Georgetown County schools were assigned to Region 8-3A, along with Bishop England, Academic Magnet, Hanahan and Manning.
“Of course (in Region 6-3A) you’re losing Georgetown, but adding teams like Cheraw and Marion,” said Aynor football coach Jody Jenerette. “Cheraw was in our region when I first started as head coach, and they’re always tough. Then again, so is just about everyone else on your schedule.
“Honestly, you can’t really worry about who is in your region, because there are always going to be three or four outstanding teams in it every year — regardless of the sport. You just have to find a way to beat them.”
Carvers Bay remains the lone area squad in Class 2A. One of the smallest schools in the classification, it will remain in Region 7-2A — though members of its supporting cast will be different.
Joining the league will be East Clarendon and Hannah-Pamplico, while fellow Georgetown County school Andrews is move to Region 6-2A. Other holdovers along with the Bears in the conference include Johnsonville, Kingstree, Latta and Mullins.
Green Sea Floyds also is staying pat, the realignment proposal calling for it to remain in Region 6-A. It will be joined by Coastal Leadership (in sports except football), Creek Bridge, Green Sea Floyds, Hemingway and Lake View.
All schools have until Aug. 16 at 1 p.m. to make appeals regarding the realignment proposal.
The SCHSL Executive Committee will hear appeals from schools on Aug. 24. Once approved, the proposal would go into effect ahead of the 2018-19 school year.
SCHSL 2018-2020 realignment proposal
Region 1-5A: Easley, Greenwood, J.L. Mann, Laurens, T.L. Hanna, Wade Hampton (G), Westside, Woodmont
Region 2-5A: Boiling Springs, Byrnes, Dorman, Gaffney, Hillcrest, Mauldin, Riverside, Spartanburg
Region 3-5A: Blythewood, Clover, Fort Mill, Nation Ford, Northwestern, Rock Hill, Spring Valley, York
Region 4-5A: Chapin, Dutch Fork, Irmo, Lexington, Lugoff-Elgin, River Bluff, White Knoll
Region 5-5A: Carolina Forest, Conway, Socastee, South Florence, Sumter, St. James, West Florence
Region 6-5A: Cane Bay, Goose Creek, James Island, Stratford, Wando
Region 7-5A: Ashley Ridge, Colleton County, Fort Dorchester, Summerville, West Ashley
Region 1-4A: Belton-Honea Path, Daniel, Palmetto, Pickens, Walhalla, Wren
Region 2-4A: Berea, Blue Ridge, Eastside, Greenville, Greer, Travelers Rest, Union County
Region 3-4A: Lancaster, Richland Northeast, RIdge View, South Pointe, Westwood
Region 4-4A: A.C. Flora, Crestwood, Dreher, Lakewood, Lower Richland, Orangeburg-Wilkinson
Region 5-4A: Aiken, Airport, Brookland-Cayce, Midland Valley, North Augusta, South Aiken
Region 6-4A: Darlington, Hartsville, Marlboro County, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Wilson
Region 7-4A: Beaufort, Berkeley, Bluffton, Hilton Head, Stall
Region 1-3A: Crescent, Liberty, Pendleton, Powdersville, Seneca, West-Oak
Region 2-3A: Broome, Carolina, Chapman, Chesnee, Landrum, Southside
Region 3-3A: Clinton, Emerald, Mid-Carolina, Newberry, Woodruff
Region 4-3A: Camden, Chester, Fairfield Central, Indian Land, Keenan
Region 5-3A: Edisto, Gilbert, Pelion, Strom Thurmond, Swansea
Region 6-3A: Aynor, Cheraw, Dillon, Lake City, Loris, Marion
Region 7-3A: Battery Creek, Lake Marion, May River, Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Wade Hampton (H)
Region 8-3A: Bishop England, Academic Magnet, Georgetown, Hanahan, Manning, Waccamaw
Region 1-2A: Blacksburg, Brashier Middle College, Christ Church, Greenville Tech, Greer Middle College, NEXT, Southside Christian, St. Joseph’s
Region 2-2A: Abbeville, Batesburg-Leesville, Dixie, Fox Creek, Ninety Six, Saluda, Silver Bluff
Region 3-2A: C.A. Johnson, Calhoun County, Columbia, Eau Claire, Gray Collegiate
Region 4-2A: Andrew Jackson, Buford, Central, Lee Central, Lewisville, North Central
Region 5-2A: Allendale-Fairfax, Bamberg-EHrhardt, Barnwell, Whale Branch, Woodland
Region 6-2A: Andrews, Burke, Charleston Charter, Garrett, North Charleston, Oceanside Collegiate, Palmetto Scholars, Timberland
Region 7-2A: Carvers Bay, East Clarendon, Hannah-Pamplico, Johnsonville, Kingstree, Latta, Mullins
Region 1-A: Calhoun Falls, High Point, McCormick, S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind, Ware Shoals, Whitmore
Region 2-A: Governors School, Great Falls, Lamar, McBee, Timmonsville
Region 3-A: Blacksville-Hilda, Denmark-Olar, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, North, Ridge Spring-Monetta, Wagener-Salley, Williston-Elko
Region 4-A: Baptist Hill, Bridges Prep, Estill, Lowcountry Leadership, Military Magnet, Phillip Simmons, Royal Live Oaks, St. John’s
Region 5-A: Bethune-Bowman, Branchville, C.E. Murray, Cross, Richland One Middle College, Scott’s Branch
Region 6-A: Coastal Leadership, Creek Bridge, Green Sea Floyds, Hemingway, Lake View