High school football in South Carolina will be extended one week because of Hurricane Florence.
The South Carolina High School League executive committee met on Tuesday and voted unanimously, 18-0, to extend the regular season into the first week of November.
Last week, more than 50 games around the state were postponed or rescheduled because of the possible impacts of the storm. This week, nearly 20 games are in jeopardy for Week 5 in areas that are still feeling the effects of the major weather event.
“All games (Varsity and Sub-Varsity) originally scheduled for Week 4 (September 10-14) that have been postponed due to evacuations and/or weather may be moved to the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 2,” states a news release from the league. “Regular scheduled games for Weeks 5-10 will remain as scheduled.”
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In Horry County, where schools aren’t back in session on Tuesday and Wednesday, at least, this week’s games seem unlikely to go on as scheduled.
“Looking at the flooding in our county and what’s expected in the coming days, I don’t see a game happening on Friday,” said North Myrtle Beach head coach Matt Reel.
In Conway, where “The Backyard” has historically had drainage issues from rain and was partially underwater over the weekend, coach Carlton Terry had a simple response to attempting to play a Week 5 game with very limited practice time. “We can’t.”
Conway is scheduled to host Myrtle Beach on Friday in the annual battle for the Victory Bell.
According to Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier, student-athletes in the school district can’t practice or participate in athletic competitions if school is not in session, and contact sports require at least two days of practice prior to a game. Non-contact sports require at least one.
So county schools would have needed to reopen Wednesday in order for their football teams to play on Friday night. They can possibly play on Saturday or thereafter if schools reopen by Thursday. Georgetown County schools are back in session Wednesday.
Adversity is a constant in the game of football, and for Aynor coach Jason Allen, the storm is something his team has tried to use as a positive.
“We will just prepare and play whatever they put in front of us. Obviously, not being around the guys for two weeks is a bit of a reset for us, but it’s had some positives,” said Allen, whose team is scheduled to host St. James on Friday. “We’ve really used the time to do some self-scouting and really see where we need to improve as a team as we head into region play. We are just ready to get back out on the field and put some work in.”
Socastee has plans similar to Aynor’s. Braves coach Doug Illing and his staff expect to hit the ground running whenever they’re allowed to practice again. Socastee is scheduled to play at Georgetown on Friday. “(We’ve got to) work, work, work as fast as we can,” he said. “(The most important thing is) practice reps of our plays and schemes to get ready to compete again.”
Another potential issue for teams is preparing the playing surfaces with limited time and resources to dry out fields. “(Our field) is extremely saturated,” Allen said. “We are okay. No standing water on the actual playing surface. We have some areas behind the goal posts, but compared to others, we are very fortunate.”
In Loris, where more than 23 inches of rain fell in a four-day span, the crown of the field was put to the test and is “still pretty bad,” according to coach Jamie Snider, whose team is scheduled to play at Carolina Forest on Friday.
Footage of Loris High School by The Sun News showed the baseball and softball fields entirely under water and many roads in the area have standing water preventing the flow of traffic. While football is far from the most important thing as the area recovers from Hurricane Florence, coaches and players from around the area know it provides an escape for residents who have faced difficult circumstances over the past week.
“Obviously, safety is the most important thing,” said Myrtle Beach head coach Mickey Wilson. “There are a lot of people going through much more than just football. This has been a trying couple of weeks for folks in this area.”
Friday’s Area Football Schedule
Myrtle Beach at Conway
St. James at Aynor
Loris at Carolina Forest
McBee at Green Sea Floyds
Socastee at Georgetown
Waccamaw at St. Johns
Games postponed in Week 4
(Games are scheduled to be played on or around Nov. 2)
Carolina Forest at Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach at Socastee
Georgetown at St. James
North Charleston at Waccamaw
Creek Bridge at Aynor