Big changes in store for 2015 Sertoma

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Change is not always a good or necessary thing, but for the survival of a Lowcountry football staple — the Sertoma Classic — change was inevitable.

The pairings for the 45th annual C.T. Lowndes Sertoma Football Classic were announced at a gathering of Lowcountry football coaches on Wednesday night. The 2015 showcase of area high school football will be held a week earlier than normal — Aug. 13-14 — in order to allow for more participation.

Last year’s event conflicted with the week zero football games, and several area programs were unable to participate, which caused a major dip in attendance. Moving the event earlier has allowed the classic to expand this summer.

“We want to highlight football in the area and we want to include as many of the area schools as we can,” said Charleston County athletic director David Spurlock. “Moving this to a week earlier was a big decision, but it also was the only decision we could make to keep this event viable and interesting for the fans to want to put their money into and help support. This is such a worthy event for the charities involved, and we certainly want to see it grow, not decline.”

In addition to the date change, this year’s classic will also include, for the first time, two eight-man football scrimmages — one on each night. An added event will be four powder puff football mini-scrimmages from six area high schools (Garrett Tech, North Charleston, Military Magnet, Fort Dorchester, Stall and Hanahan).

“We want to make this event about all of the schools — big and small — and we think the public will enjoy seeing eight-man football and also the powder puff games,” Spurlock said.

St. John’s Christian athletic director Steve Guerry says his school, along with the other eight-man programs in the area, are thankful for the opportunity to expose their brand of football to the local area.

“We’ve been invited to the big boy table and that’s great to see,” said Guerry. “This is a great event to be a part of. As a player and as a coach, this was always something great to be a part of and I’m glad that our kids will get to experience this event. We hope that it helps to legitimize our program and eight-man football in general.”

The highlighted matchups each night will include two quarter scrimmages at the end of each playing date. On Thursday, Berkeley County rivals Stratford and Hanahan will play for two quarters. On Friday night, two area powers — Goose Creek and Timberland — will clash for two quarters, to be followed by a half of football between Dorchester County rivals Fort Dorchester and Summerville.

Fort Dorchester was one school that was forced to skip last year’s Sertoma Classic due to a week zero game. Head coach Steve LaPrad is happy for the date change that will allow his team to participate.

“I love Sertoma, and last year was the first time in my 37 years of coaching that I wasn’t a part of Sertoma,” said LaPrad. “It really bothered us that we couldn’t play. This is a great event for a good cause and our kids get excited to get out there under the lights. It’s a scrimmage, but it’s football, and we get excited about playing football on a big stage.”

2015 CT Lowndes Sertoma Football Classic Schedule

Thursday (Aug. 13), 5:30 p.m.

Ridge Christian vs. Faith Christian (8-man)

Baptist Hill vs. Stall

Baptist Hill vs. Lincoln

Powder Puff (game 1)

Powder Puff (game 2)

North Charleston vs. First Baptist

Military Magnet vs. Palmetto Christian

Northwood Academy vs. Garrett Tech

Cane Bay vs. Bishop England

West Ashley vs. St. John’s

Stratford vs Hanahan (2 quarters)

Friday (Aug. 14), 5:30 p.m.

St. John’s Christian vs. Coastal Christian

Academic Magnet vs. Pinewood Prep

Colleton County vs. Burke

Powder Puff (game 3)

Powder Puff (game 4)

Berkeley vs. James Island

Wando vs. Porter-Gaud

Ashley Ridge vs. Woodland

Goose Creek vs. Timberland (2 quarters)

Summerville vs. Fort Dorchester (2 quarters