South Mecklenburg and Charlotte Catholic football had played each other the first week of the season since 2005. It was a nonconference rivalry game between two schools less than 2 miles from each other.This year, the teams won’t play until October. It will still be a rivalry, but this year it will have conference implications.“When we played them, you always knew you had to be up for that Week 1,” said Charlotte Catholic athletic director Kevin Christmas. “Now that it’s in conference, we’re probably going to have more fans.”The N.C. High School Athletic Association reclassifies schools and realigns its conferences every four years. The latest realignment, which goes into effect this fall, brings significant changes to the conferences of schools in south Charlotte. The Southwestern 4A has been home to all of the large public schools in south Charlotte for the past four years. Under the new alignment, they will be split up. The new Southwestern 4A includes current members Butler, East Mecklenburg, Independence, Myers Park and Rocky River. It will now also include Garinger and Union County’s Porter Ridge. Former SW4A members Ardrey Kell, Providence High and South Mecklenburg will play in the new So. Meck 8 4A conference with Berry, Charlotte Catholic, Harding, Olympic and West Mecklenburg. Schools in the northern part of county will also play in a new conference. The MECKA 4A is A.L. Brown, Hopewell, Hough, Mallard Creek, North Mecklenburg, Jay M. Robinson, West Charlotte and Vance.Southwestern 4A When the realignment came out, the athletic directors had to decide which of the two southern Mecklenburg conferences would retain the SW4A name. Myers Park athletic director Rick Lewis said it was based on combined years in the league. His conference won. “It’s the biggest shakeup we’ve had in a while,” he said. The Mustangs lose traditional south Charlotte rivals Providence, South Meck and Ardrey Kell. Lewis said he hopes to keep scheduling those schools in nonconference games.“It’ll still be around,” Lewis said about the rivalries. “We’ll see each other, especially with the way the playoff system is.”Garinger rejoins the league after leaving after the 2004-05 school year. Porter Ridge is in the conference for the first time. Butler football coach Brian Hales said the addition of Porter Ridge makes the SW4A an even stronger football conference. And one of the area’s biggest rivalries – Independence and Butler – will still be in conference.“It’s going to be a very competitive conference,” he said. “We’re going to have to work every week, which really is what we want.” So. Meck 8South Meck football may not have to play defending state champion Butler in conference, but that doesn’t mean the schedule is easy. “We’re playing West Meck and West Meck is just as loaded as Butler was last year,” said White, who is in his second year as the Sabres’ head coach. “We play (Charlotte Catholic running back) Elijah Hood ... Ardrey Kell is going to be good, Providence is going to be good. We still play some great competition.”South Meck will also have to play Berry, Harding, West Meck and Olympic in addition to Catholic and its former SW4A opponents.The realignment will be a larger adjustment for Charlotte Catholic, who is moving from the 3A class to the larger 4A class.“It’s going to be a tough conference,” Christmas said about the So. Meck 8. “I think that we’re going to look at it and we’re going to have to step up. It’s going to be a challenge but I think our student athletes are ready to accept that challenge.” White said he’s not letting the new conference change the way he’s approaching the season.“You’ve got to play the games as you’ve got them scheduled,” White said. “In Charlotte, you’re going to see great competition.”
Tuesday, Jul. 02, 2013
Conference realignment shakes up south Charlotte
New south Charlotte NCHSAA conferences Southwestern 4A: Butler, East Mecklenburg, Garinger, Independence, Myers Park, Porter Ridge and Rocky River. So. Meck 8 4A: Ardrey Kell, Berry, Charlotte Catholic, Harding, Olympic, Providence High, South Mecklenburg and West Mecklenburg.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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