Despite the circumstances, the show must go on.
While Hurricane Matthew came and went almost two months ago, the tropical cyclone’s impact continues to affect things on the Grand Strand – in particular, one of the state’s most revered high school football all-star games.
Eighty-eight of the Palmetto State’s prep gridiron players will arrive in Myrtle Beach this weekend, checking in to begin preparations for this year’s Touchstone Energy North-South Bowl.
While certainly an exciting time for coaches and players, organizers will spend Friday night keeping tabs on scores from around the state.
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With the high school football season pushed back two weeks, North-South all-star game nominees whose teams advance to the state semifinal round are unable to participate this year.
Having encountered a similar situation after 2015’s historic flood, organizers had to work around only eight teams advancing to their respective classification’s state championship game. This year, however, that number has more than doubled, as after this Friday’s action 20 teams will be left standing.
“It’s kind of like last year, except we’re having to worry about two weeks,” said Touchstone Energy North-South Bowl coordinator and Westside (Anderson) High football coach Scott Earley. “There was no way for us to move the game, though. The logistics, facilities, scheduling and hotels were worked out months in advance. We’re just going to have to go with what we have.”
Though some tinkering to rosters has taken place since initially being unveiled, they will be finalized with the result of Friday’s games.
Sixteen games will directly affect rosters for the North-South game, with as many as 24 spots potentially being doled out as a result.
Approximately 18 players on the North squad have teams that will play this weekend. As for the South team, 14 players will take the field for their respective squads on Friday.
Results will affect three coaches as well, as North-South assistants Mike Highsmith (Barnwell), Jamie Nickles (Abbeville) and Eddie Whitt (Boiling Springs) each have teams in action this week.
“It’s just one of those things where we will have to monitor and adjust rosters,” said Earley, Myrtle Beach’s former coach. “We’ll just have to make quick decisions based on who wins and who loses (this Friday).
“We have a lot of good players in this state. Only 42 of them make the Shrine Bowl, and 88 of them make it to the North-South game. It is a difficult situation, but reflects well on our state.”
The annual North-South game will take place Dec. 9, with kickoff at noon. In addition to the game, this year’s “Mr. Football” will be announced, awarded to one of the five finalists – North Central running back Cedrick Cunningham, wide receiver OrTre Smith of Wando, Northwestern quarterback Gage Moloney, Broome linebacker D’Marco Jackson and Greer offensive lineman Noah Hannon.
Who’s in... who’s out?
North-South football players whose teams will play Friday in the third round of the playoffs:
WR Eli Buckley, Dorman
DB Akyah Miranda, Belton-Honea Path
DB Donovan Anderson, Boiling Springs
DB Latheron Rodgers-Anderson, Ridge View
DB Sterlin Agnew, Abbeville
LB Malcolm Wiggins, Saluda
LB Cort Neely, South Pointe
RB/DB Ry’Shawn Allen, Williston-Elko
DB Orinthius Byrd, Spartanburg
RB Ladarius Jones, Spartanburg
DL Rodney Hart-Owens, Boiling Springs
OL Ty Lilly, Cheraw
K Austin Snow, Powdersville
OL TJ Boyd, Dorman
OL Cameron Muller, Ridge View
K Carlos Montalvo, Cheraw
WR Mike Hill, Lewisville
LB Jaiden Clayton, Gaffney
Jamie Nickles, Abbeville
Eddie Whitt, Boiling Springs
DB Jaylen Evans, Hartsville
WR Bobby Irby, Dutch Fork
WR Adonicus Sanders, Fort Dorchester
QB Peyton Derrick, Conway
OL De’Andre Thompson, Orangeburg-Wilkinson
OL Tyler McLellan, Fort Dorchester
LB Joe Beckett, White Knoll
OL Nick Comfort, Lake View
OL William Webster, Chapin
WR Tyrese Sandgren, Bluffton
TE Earl Bostick, Barnwell
TE Bryson Cannon, Dutch Fork
WR Kanore McKinnon, Dillon
DE Tyler Lindo, Bluffton
Mike Highsmith, Barnwell