When the South Carolina High School League met on Tuesday and determined the regular season needed to be extended by one week, Myrtle Beach’s Mickey Wilson found himself wondering why they made such a move.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “To me, this is absurd. We have a model in place to push the season back two weeks, like we did when (Hurricane) Matthew came through a few years ago.”
Wilson’s frustration stems from the idea that the Grand Strand and Pee Dee areas are not yet back in school, but may be required to play a Week 5 game with very limited practice time.
“Honestly, this decision throws the Grand Strand and Pee Dee under the bus,” he said. “The high school league is supposed to be about fairness, and this isn’t fair to the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.”
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Horry County Schools has canceled classes and participation in sports through at least Wednesday, and is expected to announce by 2 p.m. Wednesday whether classes will be held later this week.
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. Noncontact 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.
Around the state, schools have been back in session this week, meaning other football teams are able to have a normal week of practice. In Horry, Darlington, Marlboro, Marion, Chesterfield and Georgetown counties, schools will not have a full week of classes and will not have ample time to prepare for a football game.
“Football is a preparation game, mentally and physically, and you need that time to get ready to play your best,” Wilson said. “I won’t put my players in harm’s way and have them playing a game they aren’t ready for mentally and physically.”
Conway’s Carlton Terry had a similar concern when asked about getting ready to play, as did Loris’s Jamie Snider and Socastee’s Doug Illing.
If Horry County reopens schools Thursday, that would allow little practice time before a game on wet and soggy playing surfaces with 10 days off between football-related activities, which some coaches believe is questionable at best for player safety.
Though this is the situation in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, schools across the state are getting what Wilson calls an unfair advantage.
“The Upstate and other areas across the state are gaining a competitive advantage over the schools in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee,” he said. “The high school league needs to give us that competitive advantage back by pushing the season back two weeks. Why they haven’t done that is ridiculous to me and throws the Grand Strand and Pee Dee under the bus.”
In 2016, the SCHSL pushed back the regular season two weeks because of Hurricane Matthew, which caused state championship games to be played the same week as the Shrine Bowl.
Under the current model announced Tuesday by the SCHSL, the Class 3A, 4A and 5A championships games will take place on the same day as the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives North-South Game, which takes place at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach.
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