High School Sports

School officials move to appeal realignment

The future of Region 3-AAAA is in the hands of four administrators headed to Columbia today in hopes of having an appeal filed earlier this month approved.

Athletics directors Bill Warren of Northwestern High School, Billy Parker of Rock Hill, Mike Drummond of South Pointe and Northwestern Principal James Blake will appear before the South Carolina High School League's 16-member Executive Committee and plead their case.

In question is the realignment released earlier this month by the SCHSL. The alignment, which covers the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, split Region 3-AAAA.

The proposed alignment moved Rock Hill, South Pointe and Lancaster into Region 4-AAAA with Blythewood, Ridge View and Spring Valley.

Region 3-AAAA would include Clover, Fort Mill, Gaffney, Nation Ford, Northwestern and York.

The appeal, which had to be received by Aug. 17, will be made by Warren and Blake.

"What we want to do is keep the seven York County teams in one region,'' Warren said. "The proposal in our appeal is to leave Gaffney back to Region 2, Rock Hill and South Pointe back to Region 3, leave Lancaster in Region 4 and move Richland Northeast and Irmo into Region 4 so the Columbia area will have two six-team regions.

"I've been told there are other proposals that could be made, maybe as many as six others. It'll all be up to the executive committee, which approved the first realignment before it was sent out.''

The realignment was done by the High School League and approved by its executive director, Jerome Singleton, before being sent to the Executive Committee for final approval.

At the center of the controversy are Rock Hill and South Pointe, which would compete in a Columbia region, leaving Northwestern, Rock Hill's other school, in Region 3.

Northwestern opened in 1971 and played an independent football schedule. The next season, the Trojans were moved into the old Region 2-AAAA with Rock Hill and one of the state's hottest rivalries was born.

Their football game has been played annually on the final Friday of the regular season. The region title has often come down to the winner of the rivalry game.

The Bearcats and Trojans have played 42 times -- twice in the same season during seven years -- and Rock Hill holds a 22-20 edge.

Because they'll be in different regions doesn't mean Rock Hill and South Pointe can't play Northwestern. They could do so, but the games would have to be in the first half of the schedule before region play starts.

When the proposed realignment was first released, fans from both schools were up in arms because they felt the series would be minimized by playing early with no shot at a region title on the line.

Fans around the area were also opposed to it because for years they've been hoping that every team in York County would be in the same region, as they have the last two seasons.

With Fort Mill's Nation Ford's football team joining Region 3-AAAA next year, all seven county teams would comprise it if the appeal is approved.

Lancaster Principal Joe Keenan is a former executive committee member and said he has no idea how the ruling with play out. He said Lancaster is fine with moving to Region 4, but will support the appeal agreed on by the other schools in Region 3.

"We have developed a good relationship with the Region 3 schools, so we respect and support them,'' Keenan said. "They are doing what they think is best for their kids, same as we would do. If they didn't do that, they should find another line of work.

"Regardless of what happens, we still want to play the teams in Region 3 and not infringe on the relationships we have built. My gut feeling is there will be no sweeping changes, that everything will stay like it is.''

REGION 3-AAAA

Clover

Fort Mill

Gaffney

Nations Ford

Northwestern

York

REGION 4-AAAA

Blythewood

Lancaster

Ridge View

Rock Hill

South Pointe

Spring Valley

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