Its approach dimming the Friday night lights last week, the destruction left in Hurricane Matthew’s wake may have a similar impact this weekend.
With schools in Georgetown and Horry counties closed for the better part of the week assessing damage left by the storm, it also halts all extracurricular activities – the most visible of which happens to be high school football. With students unlikely to return to campus until the latter portion of the week, it leaves very little time for coaches and players to prepare for a game on Friday night.
Having taken a proactive approach ahead of Hurricane Matthew by lengthening the 2016 football campaign by a week, the S.C. High School League’s (SCHSL) Executive Committee will convene Wednesday at 10 a.m. to potentially add a few more days to the schedule.
“We have been working feverishly to solidify a schedule that is suitable for the majority of athletic programs across our state,” S.C. High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton said in a prepared statement. “Many of our member schools have experienced great disruption following Hurricane Matthew. Communities will be partaking in joint efforts during the clean-up process while schools return to normalcy.
“Keeping the integrity and spirit of sports alive is a concern, while student safety is of the utmost importance. As always, we appreciate your patience and willingness to help.”
This is the second consecutive year in which the state’s prep sports governing body has been forced to extend the football season by a week. In the aftermath of the historic flood of 2015, the SCHSL added an 11th week to its regular season, thus pushing back state championship games to the same week as the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives North-South Bowl.
No matter how you look at things, safety is always the top priority. 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.
SCSHL commissioner Jerome Singleton
Under the current plan, that would again be the case this December. However, it would take some creative schedule-making by coaches and athletic directors to get all games in.
In an interview last week with The Sun News, Singleton expressed his hope not to have teams play more than one game in a week’s span.
“No matter how you look at things, safety is always the top priority,” he said at the time. “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.”
The SCHSL also announced this weekend’s state swim meet at the University of South Carolina Natatorium will go on as scheduled, with Class 5A taking center stage on Friday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. Swimmers from Class 4A will take to the pool the following day at 10:15 a.m., with their peers in Class 3A doing so at 3 p.m.
Plans did change for volleyball and girls tennis, though, with each sport’s season being extended by a week.
State volleyball playoffs will begin Oct. 26 for teams in classes A, 2A and 3A. Postseason play will start the following night for those in classes 4A and 5A.
Girls tennis playoffs will start for those in classes 3A, 4A and 5A on Oct. 26. Teams in Class 2A will begin postseason play on Oct. 31.