UNION COUNTY — The appellate panel of the South Carolina High School League voted 7-0 on Wednesday not to rehear the case of Union County moving from class 4A to 3A. With that vote Union County’s move to 3A should be finalized. Key word there is should be.
Spartanburg District four Superintendent Dr. Rallie Liston was quoted as saying that the group may seek legal action to stop the move. The group of schools led by Dr. Liston consisted of several schools from Spartanburg County, Laurens District 56 (Clinton), and also Greenwood (Emerald). The main argument presented by these schools Wednesday was that there was no due process and they were not allowed to present their side of the argument in Union County’s appeal to move to 3A. Liston, as well as the Superintendents from the other districts, all stated they had not been notified of Union County’s appeal and if they had they would have been able to present arguments against the move.
According to the legal counsel for the high school league, there is no requirement for schools to notify other affected schools of their plans to appeal.
With this vote the only course of action for the other schools to try and stop the move is taking it to the court system. As of now we are going to go with the premise that Union County will be in 3A next year. If they do indeed take it to the court system and spend money to fight this decision on a legal front, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Moving out of 4A into 3A will of course mean the Jackets will have some new opponents both in region and out of region play. Looking at the 2018 football schedule folks will notice there are some teams missing that the Jackets have played for a long time, for example, Spartanburg is no longer there. Fans will also notice some teams that used to be region rivals making a return to the Jackets schedule.
Union County will kick of the 2018 football season with three consecutive home games. The first on August 17, Week zero, as the Jackets will host defending 3A Upperstate Champion Chapman. The Panthers are coming off a very successful season that saw them make a second consecutive appearance in the state title game. However, the Panthers will enter the 2018 season with a lot of questions. They will have to replace their North/South quarterback and running back as well as a Shrine Bowl receiver, and other really good players on both sides of the ball.
The Jackets second opponent will be AC Flora in Week One on August 24. The Jackets will end the three-game home stand on August 31 as they will take on the rival Gaffney Indians.
The Jackets first road contest of the season will come in Week Three as they will travel to Broome to take on the Centurions. Broome, a former region foe, returns to the schedule after being off for two years when Union County moved to 4A. The Jackets will then travel to Greer to renew the Jacket Bowl in what will now be a non-region game for both teams as Greer stays in 4A.
Union County will then take a week off before entering the second, and most important part of the schedule, region play. The Jackets first region opponent will be a familiar foe in the Clinton Red Devils on September 28 at home. The Jackets will then travel to Woodruff to take on a Wolverine team that should be very good led by senior quarterback Keegan Halloran. The Jackets final regular season home game will be on October 12 when they host the Mid-Carolina Bulldogs. The Jackets toughest region game will more than likely come on October 19 when they travel to Newberry to take on a Bulldog team that is under the leadership of legendary coach Phil Strickland. The Bulldogs are always a force in whatever region they play in and next year probably will not be any different. The final region game for Union County will be against Emerald on October 26.
Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Bradley Adams stated that, ”We feel the new region we have been placed in is much better on all of our sports. The new region is better on travel, protects our athletes better by reducing the long hours we were having to put in with the distance to Greenville, and the schools in region are more geared toward our student attendance.”
This year’s football schedule is a lot friendlier to Union County strengthwise especially in non-region play. Last year the Jackets took on three 5A teams in non-region action as well as the defending 3A State Champs. The Jackets were playing teams from schools that had enrollments sometimes more than twice their size. This schedule puts the Jackets up against schools with closer to the same student enrollment numbers as UCHS. While fans may miss seeing teams like Spartanburg and Boiling Springs on the schedule, it just makes more sense to play teams like Broome, Chapman, and Greer in non-region play at this time. The Jackets will still face a traditional rival in Gaffney, who of course is a 5A team and their fans always travel well to away games helping boost the numbers and bring in more money at the gate.
Who knows what surprises the next couple of weeks will hold. Everyone who has a student in the Union County School District, especially one that plays sports, owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Bill Roach for continuing to stand up and fight for our students. His genuinely cares about the students of Union and their education.