Enquirer Herald

Clover to join 5A, York to remain 4A

Clover would join Fort Mill, Nation Ford, Northwestern and Rock Hill in a new Region 4-5A classification created by the South Carolina High School League.

York would join South Pointe, Lancaster, Richland Northeast, Ridgeview and Westwood in the new Region 3-4A alignment.

The high school league executive committee will hear appeals from schools on Sept. 17. Once approved, the realignment proposal would become effective ahead of the 2016-17 school year and would remain in place for two years.

The league examines the statewide classification structure every two years to determine if realignment is necessary to adapt to changing student enrollment figures across the state.

“I think it’s going to be a good situation with the number of teams in 5A,” Clover High School athletic director Carroll Hester said of the alignment, which he said is unlikely to change after appeals are made. “They tried to balance it out.”

Hester said a school wishing to make an appeal to a different classification must present a detailed plan of how the change will work. “They can’t just say they want a change,” he said.

Once the five classifications have been set by the High School League, the real work begins, according to Hester.

“The big thing will be for each classification to start as soon as possible to determine what the playoffs will look like and how many teams will participate in the playoffs,” he said. “You can’t just look at football. You’ve got to look at every sport.

“Will softball or baseball be different? People are looking at different options when the new alignment becomes effective.”

Hester said that once the football season begins with the new 5A, five-team region format, one of the teams will have a bye.

“You don’t want to have a bye the eighth, ninth or tenth game of the season,” he said. “We’ve got to come up with something that may help that.”

Hester said the York-Clover football game, a huge revenue producer for the two schools, would be played as a nonregion game prior to the region slate of games.

According to York athletic director Steve Boyd, York missed 5A classification by 50 students and will remain 4A.

“We’ve got to travel a little bit more, but again, too, it gives us the opportunity to compete against more schools our size enrollment-wise,” he said.

Boyd said 4A is a better fit for York. “We might be able to compete in some sports at the 5A level,” he said. “But it starts being a numbers game. They just outnumber us and have more kids to pick from.”

Boyd views the 4A classification alignment as a decision that will enhance high school sports other than football. “We will have 42 teams in class 4A,” he said. “It’s a better fit with competitive numbers for all sports.”

“If you look at the 4A situation the last 20 years or so, football has been kind of taken care of,” he said. “The High School League always splits the divisions in football and has two state championships. All of the other sports compete for one state championship among 52 teams in 4A.”

Hester said one of the drawbacks to having five teams in a region is having to cope with scheduling seven nonregion football games.

“Again, it’s not just football we’re talking about; it’s all of the sports,” he said. “In basketball, you play four region teams. That’s eight games. Now you’ve got to find 10, possibly 12 nonregion games to complete the regular season schedule.”

He said consideration would be given to scheduling more teams from across the border.

Blue Eagle head football coach Chad Smith echoes Hester’s sentiments regarding the move to 5A classification the next school year. “It worked out well for us,” said Smith. “I kind of like our new conference we’ll be going into. Travel is going to play a premium in that league and the competition is definitely a premium.

Concluded Smith, “I’m happy with the results.”

Clover’s Aug. 21 regular season opener will be against Westside.