The latest South Carolina High School League realignment kept Pickens in Class AAA, but the Blue Flame’s football scheduled changed nonetheless.
After 32 seasons in Class AAA as a Region 1 member, Pickens has been jettisoned from the Western AAA Region to the Peach Blossom AAA Region. Pickens will be the only non-Greenville County entrant in the eight-team conference.
The change has not gone over well with the Blue Flame.
“We liked the region we were in just because of the natural rivalries. Our fans enjoyed those games,” said Pickens coach Chad Seaborn. “We’re kind of going into some unfamiliar territory now.”
In addition to the rivalries lost, unfamiliarity and extra travel, the Blue Flame also may take a bit of a financial hit as region home games may not attract as big a crowd as in years past.
Seaborn has the best remedy in mind for that.
“Hopefully we will play well enough where people will want to come watch us play,” he said.
Pickens was able to maintain its non-region schedule from the past two years, including its season opener against rival Easley in Week 0 (Aug. 17). Two of those former non-region opponents — Berea and Travelers Rest — are now Peach Blossom foes.
Seaborn believes the new teams Pickens will face could add a little motivation for his players, as could being the lone region representative from Pickens County.
“We’d love to still be in the Western AAA, but everybody had to make some changes this season,” said Seaborn. “So hopefully we will play well and make Pickens proud.”