As they do every two years, the South Carolina High School League has released its new two-year realignment that designates which class and in which region each member school will participate in athletically beginning in the 2020-21 school year.
Woodruff High School will remain in the 3A classification under the new proposal, though it will find itself back amongst several old and familiar foes during the conference slate.
Placed in Region III-3A, the Wolverines will remain paired with current region opponents Emerald, Union County, and arch-rival Clinton. Gone, however, are Newberry, who dropped to 2A, and Mid Carolina, who was moved to Region Four. Rejoining Woodruff in the newly realigned region are county rivals Broome and defending 3A state champion, Chapman.
For Woodruff athletic director Michael Morris, the new realignment proposal wasn’t necessarily expected but at the same time it represents a good situation for the Woodruff athletic department.
“We really thought we might be in a region with Broome, Chapman, Chesnee, Carolina and Southside, or be in our old region with a Union (County), Emerald, Mid Carolina, and Clinton,” said Morris. “To have kind of a combination was a little bit of a surprise but it didn’t really surprise me that we stayed 3A.”
Of the benefits from the new region alignment, chief among them is the reuniting of old county rivals in Broome and Chapman. While the Wolverines have certainly played their county brethren over the past two seasons, play-off implications were not on the line. That changes now as Woodruff will compete for region championships with the Centurions, Panthers and Red Devils, among others.
An additional factor is the potential for big money games and high attendance contests, particularly in football, with the new Region Three member schools all fielding competitive and championship level teams in recent years.
“(Big crowds) depend on if you’re winning,” Morris said. “People like to see that for sure but we do have a lot of natural rivalries going.”
When looking at the new 3A and the reshuffling of teams, the classification as a whole was also made deeper and more talented almost overnight. Dropping from the 4A ranks to join Region I-3A are football contenders Belton-Honea Path, Daniel and defending 4A state champion, Wren. Also joining the 3A ranks following a drop in classification will be perennial 4A basketball powerhouse programs Lower Richland and Orangeburg-Wilkinson. Keenan, also a basketball power, remains 3A but will shift to Region Five in the lower-state along with Camden.
“When you look at upper-state 3A now, obviously, Wren who was the state champion in 4A, you’ve got B-HP and Daniel, and you throw in Chapman and Union County, it’s a very competitive 3A bracket for sure,” added Morris.
In the long run, Morris said, the SCHSL got it right.“Our travel is still pretty good,” he said. “Really, our trip to Emerald is the only one that isn’t mostly interstate so I think from a travel standpoint, it’s good.”
By Garrett Mitchell, Contributing Writer