Each of the four area players selected to participate in Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas needs Saturday’s game.
For all of their individual accomplishments throughout their careers, they’d love one more opportunity to close out their high school playing days on a another positive note.
Carolina Forest running back Harold Atkinson’s senior season finished 3-8, and one of those victories came via Goose Creek’s well-documented forfeit.
Chocolate Wilson, the talented Myrtle Beach cornerback with a handful of major college offers, missed the entire regular season with a knee injury before his team was eliminated from the playoffs in the second round.
And Conway’s Mykal Moody and Malcolm Green were unable to prevent a loss in the regular-season finale and then the first round of the playoffs, a pair of games in which Moody was sidelined with an injury of his own.
“This is my last game for my high school career,” Moody said. “I think it’s a big deal for me that I play in this game.”
The prestige of playing in the 76th annual event is one of the top individual honors South Carolina prep players can receive. The four are part of the 44-man South Carolina roster that will be taking on the 44 best from North Carolina at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg.
It’s an honor that comes with responsibility of helping the Palmetto State – which leads the series 41-30-4 – extend its bragging rights. But it is also one last opportunity to impress college coaches.
The NCAA previously ruled that coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision can’t be at the practices leading up to the game. That doesn’t stop game film from getting into the hands of colleges at the highest level.
“It’s another opportunity,” said Green, who has yet to receive a college scholarship offer. “It gives them another reason to look at me, playing against people who have my type of talent.”
Green had a monster season catching passes from Moody, finishing with 80 receptions for 1,172 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Moody, who played in just eight games this season, passed for 1,543 yards and 21 touchdowns while running for another 813 yards and 15 touchdowns. He finished his time at Conway with 106 total touchdowns, and he’s believed to be the only player in state history to have passed for more than 4,000 yards while rushing for another 3,000.
Atkinson’s numbers dipped some from his sophomore season, but some of that has to do with a slight injury and the fact he filled in on the defense earlier in the year. Still, he finished with 941 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground and another 221 yards receiving.
He is just the third Carolina Forest player to be selected for the Shrine Bowl, following Tyke Green (2000) and Antonio Bellamy (2003).
Atkinson said being picked for the Shrine Bowl is about more than football, though. Before the team received equipment this week, players had already met with the children of the Greenville unit of the Shriners Hospitals.
“How much bigger could it get to be playing in the Shrine Bowl for these kids and the Shriners’ hospital?” he said. “It’s amazing. These kids have so much to not be happy about. But you never see them not smiling. These kids living these lives stay happy. It’s definitely an inspiration to me.”
It’s also another opportunity. Be it any of the reasons for playing well, it marks the end of the players’ high school playing days.
“I didn’t play the whole season,” Wilson said. “So I’m pushing and trying to go hard every practice and every snap I get.”