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Sports: Cross-county rivalry with move up a notch in 2016
By Jason Lesley
Waccamaw High School football coach Tyronne Davis welcomed Georgetown High to Region VI-AAA this week and hoped the schools could arrange their schedules to meet in the last regular season game of the year.
Georgetown High appealed the South Carolina High School League’s realignment plan after it was placed in Region VII-AAA with Bishop England, Hanahan, Lake Marion, Manning and Timberland. Georgetown Principal Craig Evans argued that schools in Region VI-AAA were an average of 15 miles closer. The league’s appellate panel agreed by a vote of 5-2 to move Georgetown into the region with Waccamaw, Dillon, Aynor, Loris and Lake City starting with the next school year. Georgetown’s first appeal was denied, 13-1, by the league’s executive committee.
Although Waccamaw High has been in a region with other county high schools, this is the first time it’s been in a region with Georgetown. The match-up was made possible when the high school league added a fifth classification based on enrollment. Waccamaw is currently in Class AA. Georgetown is already in Class AAA.
Davis said making Georgetown a region foe will add to the rivalry. “It makes it a little more when you are in the same region,” he said. Region VI-AAA coaches have not met to work out next season’s football schedule, and Davis said he would look at playing Georgetown as the last game of the regular season. “That would be a little different, a little special,” he said.
Waccamaw’s region would have had just five teams, necessitating a cross-region game to fill out the football schedule. Davis said he was looking at scheduling a team from the Beaufort area. That three-hour bus trip will not be necessary now that a sixth team is in the region. Waccamaw can fill out its football schedule with a team closer to home.
Waccamaw boys basketball coach Mike Quinn said Georgetown feels like a region foe already. “Our kids love playing them because they all know each other,” he said. “It’s great camaraderie, and it will be great to have those games with the stands packed at home and away.”
Waccamaw athletics director Joan Cribb said the Warriors play Georgetown in most sports now. “It won’t be much different for us,” she said. “If that’s what they want to do, I’m happy for them.”
Georgetown County School Superintendent Randy Dozier accompanied the Georgetown High contingent to Columbia for the appeal. Evans, the school principal, argued that the cost of travel and the safety of students and coaches should be a priority.
School board members were also concerned that the original region alignment meant students would lose study time to the longer travel times. Georgetown leaves a region with Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, St. James, Wilson and Lake City. All those schools but Lake City moved up in classification to AAAA.
With the exception of lacrosse, Georgetown will compete with Waccamaw in every sport. “We’re very pleased and looking forward to the competition,” Evans said. “We have a healthy rivalry with Waccamaw. Our coaches certainly have a lot of respect for the Waccamaw coaches and enjoy competing with them. Joining Region VI was a blessing.”
Waccamaw High principal David Hammel said he wrote a letter supporting Georgetown High’s appeal. “We have a very friendly rivalry with Georgetown, a great positive relationship,” Hammel said. “This makes games that were already rivalry games even more meaningful. Plus, it’s good for us to have a school in our region close by we’ll play in all sports.”
Hammel said it’s been at least 10 years since Waccamaw was in a region with other county schools, Andrews and Carvers Bay. “This is positive for all of us,” he said. “I hope it leads to increased gates and more fans coming to games in all sports.”