The 2014 class AA football playoffs will be significantly different this season, and the state championship games will be played in a different venue.
River Bluff High School replaces Benedict College as the site for the 2014 Division I and Division II state championships, and the finals will be a week earlier. The Class AA finals will be played on Nov. 28, while the Class A finals will be played on the same day at Benedict College's Charlie Johnson Stadium.
The AA playoff format also will be different than it has been in recent years. In the past, every AA team in the state qualified for the playoffs. This year, only the top four teams in each region will be eligible. The eligible teams will then be divided based on enrollment into Division I and Division II, much the same way that AAAA determines its playoff brackets. Class AA no longer will have first-round byes.
Bishop England coach John Cantey likes the changes being made to the AA playoffs. Bishop England won the Division II titles in 2011 and 2012.
"I like the change for a few reasons," said Cantey. "Eliminating the bye week is a good thing for sure. I never liked the bye week because it sort of shut down any late-season momentum that we might have been able to build up.
"I also think the change will bring some teams that were normally Division I playoff teams down to Division II, which will make the Division II bracket much stronger. And, I think the old way really watered things down in the playoffs."
Cantey expects his program to remain a Division II playoff team this season but says the school's enrollment may push them to Division I in 2015.
AR forfeits wins
The Ashley Ridge baseball program is forfeiting most of its 2014 victories after the High School League ruled the Swamp Foxes used an ineligible player.
The issue stems from an incident last fall in which four Summerville High players were placed on probation for violating school and district policies. As part of the probation, all four players were not allowed to participate in athletics for the remainder of the school year.
One of the four players opted to move into Ashley Ridge attendance zones and played baseball for the school during the 2014 season. High School League rules state that a transferring athlete must have been eligible to participate in athletics at his former school in order to participate at the new school. In this case, the transferring player should have sat out the 2014 baseball season at Ashley Ridge.
It is unclear how many victories the player participated in, but it is believed to have been most of the team's regular-season wins, which included a Region 8-AAAA championship run.
Ashley Ridge was fined $2,500 by the High School League and some 2015 preseason restrictions, including tournaments and allowed scrimmages, have been placed on the baseball program.
Pro ball in Germany
Former Porter-Gaud basketball star Travis Smith has signed a contract to play in the Germany professional leagues this fall. Smith will play for Eintracht Stahnsdorf team, which opens the season on Sept. 28.
Smith signed with Presbyterian College out of high school, but transferred to Gulf Coast Community College after one season and finished up at Mercer University.
Another Porter-Gaud hoopster, 2014 graduate K.J. James, is set to begin his collegiate career at High Point University this fall. James originally committed to play at Abilene Christian in June but ended up a late signee with High Point. James scored more than 4,000 career points as a five-year starter for the Cyclones and is the school's all-time leading scorer.