Immense in size and nature, the seriousness and potential severity of Hurricane Matthew on the Grand Strand was well known several days before it approached the South Carolina coast.
Packing a punch in the form of blistering wind gusts and more than a dozen inches in rain, the tropical cyclone’s mere presence impacted matters big and small.
The local high school football season lacking in importance to the general scope of things, it took a backseat to the safety of all in the storm’s path. But with Matthew having come and gone, the focus of those at the S.C. High School League and area coaches will soon pivot toward “what happens next?”
“As the storm approaches, we’re constantly tracking the information (Gov. Nikki Haley) is feeding us, and adjust things from there,” said S.C. High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton. “Certainly, the aftermath presents its own set of challenges.”
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Last year’s historic flood significantly altered the high school football schedule, prompting the SCHSL to add a week to its regular season. Such is the same for the 2016 campaign, the tropical storm postponing games in the local area, each of which have been rescheduled for Friday, Nov. 4.
Maybe several inches of water will be on the field … maybe the power will be out. This week’s out of the question, but we don’t know if we’ll be able to play (this coming) Friday either.
Green Sea Floyds football coach Tony Sullivan
As a result, the state football playoffs will kick off Nov. 11, with gridiron titles being contested Dec. 9 and 10.
With the tropical cyclone leaving more than its share of rain, though, the concern of area coaches has become what happens if conditions do not satisfy those necessary to play a game.
“Maybe several inches of water will be on the field … maybe the power will be out,” said Green Sea Floyds football coach Tony Sullivan. “This week’s out of the question, but we don’t know if we’ll be able to play (this coming) Friday either.”
Images have already surfaced of Conway High School football stadium – commonly known as “The Backyard” – under several inches of water as Crab Creek Canal overflowed its banks, like it did last October. Though all local gridiron facilities don’t have a body of water flowing in their direct vicinity, unpredictability in regard to what Hurricane Matthew would leave in its wake offered more questions than answers – particularly when it comes to more games needing to be made up.
“My guess is the (SCHSL), because it pushed the season back a week already, may ask teams to play two games in a week … like a Monday or Tuesday and a Friday, for instance,” said Conway football coach Chuck Jordan said. “It’s something they don’t want to do, but also they cannot continue to push the season back either.”
If Singleton and those at the SCHSL have their way, that is something they would like to avoid.
We’ll just have to evaluate things when the time comes. We were good in the fact our host sites were capable of having us a week later than previously expected. But if we were to attempt to move things back a week, we’d have to check with them because we have no idea where there resources may be tied up.
SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton
“No matter how you look at things, safety is always the top priority,” he said. “Once the storm is gone and damage assessed, I’m sure coaches and school districts will put their heads together and come to a consensus as to what to do next.
“We would certainly discourage programs from playing two games in a week, though. If a team were to play a Friday and then again on a Thursday, we’d have no problem with that. But if a team were to play two games without three of four days of time between them, that is not what we want to happen.”
According to the SCHSL commissioner, all options are on the table – including the potential of prolonging the football calendar.
“We’ll just have to evaluate things when the time comes,” Singleton said. “We were good in the fact our host sites were capable of having us a week later than previously expected. But if we were to attempt to move things back a week, we’d have to check with them because we have no idea where there resources may be tied up.”