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March 5, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
The Palmetto State Showdown is set for the summer with a full field of 20 team head to Duncan, S.C. One will get even more.
For the first time in the five-year history of the event, the winner will receive an automatic berth to the National Select 7-on-7 field in Hoover, Ala.
The June 15-16 passing tournament will take place in the shadow of Byrnes High School. It is the second year in a row that the event will take place in June to accommodate Georgia teams.
Event director Tony McAbee says that each year it is a little easier to fill the field.
"I am sure the Byrnes reputation plays a big factor (in finding participants)," he said. "I think the level of competition that a coach sees in the tournament keeps them coming back."
Of the 20 teams, 13 are making a return trip from last season and nearly all of the teams have participated at least once in the four previous years.
In a relatively short period of time The Palmetto State Showdown has grown into one of the best passing tournaments in the country with the support of the U.S. National Guard and many other local sponsors.
"We have really established some great relationships with the coaches and I think they are appreciative of the things we do for both them and the players," McAbee said.
McAbee said that despite having good relationships - and familiarity - with all of the coaches, he still is excited for certain teams to come to town.
"I look forward to seeing Valdosta [(Ga.) High]," he said. "It has an incredible high school history."
And he has personal favorites as well.
"We look forward to seeing Coach (Bill) Cherpak from [Jefferson Hills (Pa.)] Thomas Jefferson," McAbee said. "They are always a tough out in 7-on-7s."
The event even has a more regional feel this season as it will include only eight teams from South Carolina, the fewest in the events history.
The expansion in the region and interest in advancing to the National Select likely means the trend of fewer South Carolina schools will continue into the future.
"We may pare down to fewer in the future," McAbee said.
While the local teams may pare down, the exposure of this event will be expanding.
Here is a look at the teams in the event this year: