The annual South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association clinic is taking place at the TD Convention Center in Greenville this week, and the big talk surrounding the event is the upcoming release of the proposed five classification realignment by the South Carolina High School League.
Jerome Singleton, executive director of the league, said his office will send out the proposed classifications as well as the region alignments for the 2016-17 school year on Monday. Schools will then have an opportunity to appeal before a final list is submitted in September.
The five classification alignment will be the first in state history and will affect programs from Class A to Class AAAAA. The current system consists of four classifications, but football crowns seven state champions. The new format will have five state champions in football and most other varsity sports.
Singleton said most of the work has been completed, but he and his staff plan to tweak some of the alignments later this week. It is unclear how many schools will be included in each classification, but Singleton did say that the number of schools would vary in each classification.
“We have worked very hard to be fair to our schools, taking into consideration two major factors — competition and geography. I think we have done a good job and now the schools can take a look at it and see how they fit into the equation.”
Several schools in the Lowcountry are expected to be classified as AAAAA schools, including Wando, Summerville, Fort Dorchester, Stratford, West Ashley, Goose Creek, James Island and Ashley Ridge. Wando is the state’s largest school with just over 4,000 students. Depending on the final number of schools listed in AAAAA, Cane Bay and Colleton County also could be included.
Bishop England is projected as a AAA school, up from Class AA. While football garners most of the attention when it comes to realignment, Singleton stressed that all sports are affected.
A pair of Lowcountry coaches were honored on Sunday by the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association. Wando volleyball coach Alexis Glover was named the organization’s coach of the year, while former Stratford offensive line coach Tony Smith received the assistant coach of the year honor. Smith retired as a coach last spring.
Fort Dorchester golf coach Tom Wilson also received his 50-year service award as a high school coach.
Ashley Ridge catcher/pitcher Gabe Austin, a rising senior, recently announced his commitment to College of Charleston. Austin’s fastball is in the upper 80s (mph) and he is a highly regarded hitter. He has 14 home runs during the summer as a member of the Carolina Prospects Scout team.
Hanahan right-handed pitcher Malcolm Van Buren made a verbal commitment to North Carolina State over the weekend. The 6-3 Van Buren is the son of former Middleton High and East Carolina star running back Cedric Van Buren. North Carolina State’s new pitching coach is former College of Charleston assistant Scott Foxhall.
Wando junior shortstop Hogan Kelly has committed to Francis Marion, while Wando rising junior volleyball player Katie Jacques, a 6-2 middle, committed to Marshall University.
Burke High School will have a new man leading its football program this fall. Anthony Sterling was hired late in the spring to replace Earl Brown, III, who is now coaching linebackers at James Island Charter.
Sterling comes to Burke after a five-year stint as the head coach at Chester High School.