South Carolina’s high school football season now will run to the weekend before Christmas, courtesy of Hurricane Matthew. And for Lowcountry fans looking for a more immediate fix, there will be Friday football in the area – 8-man style.
The South Carolina High School League’s executive committee approved on Wednesday a second extension of the regular season, opening Nov. 11 for games unable to be played this Friday. Playoffs would begin Nov. 18, with championship games now set for Dec. 16 and 17 in Columbia.
Meantime, Beaufort Academy notified SCISA officials on Wednesday that this week’s home game against Coastal Christian will be played as scheduled. Same for Thomas Heyward’s road contest at Dorchester Academy.
“It’s a region game, and the season’s cut short enough as it is right now,” said Beaufort Academy athletics director Neal McCarty. “If we don’t play this, it would be a third game lost. That’s too much to lose.”
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Not only were the Eagles forced to scrap last week’s visit to Andrew Jackson Academy, but Tropical Storm Hermine washed out a September trip to Patrick Henry Academy. BA also lost what was supposed to be its season finale when Ridge Christian opted not to field a team this fall.
Players reconvened Tuesday for their first practice, giving them three days of work before the contest.
“They were excited to see each other; to see the coaches,” McCarty said. “The players are on board, the coaches are on board, and the headmaster said we’re all go for (school) tomorrow. So we’ll play Friday night.”
Thomas Heyward also held to plans to resume classes on Thursday. The Rebels (4-2) have won three straight and are unbeaten in region play.
Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian have called off this week’s games, though Prep’s contest against St. Andrew’s is a region game.
SCISA scheduled a meeting next Tuesday to decide whether to extend its regular season to make up missed region contests. The tradeoff would be turning an eight-team playoff into a four-team bracket.
“We’ll see how many region games we wind up (falling) behind,” SCISA athletics director Mike Fanning said, noting the Pee Dee area also is dealing with post-Matthew flooding.
“Our first adjustment may be to cancel non-region games in Weeks 9 and 10 (to accommodate) region games. We’d do that before we look at extending the season.”
High School League officials discussed three options during Wednesday’s emergency meeting, eventually rejecting alternatives to reduce the playoffs by a week or go with a nine-game regular season.
“They came away with the one the member schools are best served by,” commissioner Jerome Singleton told reporters in Columbia. “We don’t want to have kids playing multiple days in a week if possible. While this was difficult, there are bigger things going on in their kids’ and families’ lives right now.”
Extending the season was the easiest to work out, he said, because of how many teams were affected. Hurricane Matthew took out 29 games last week, with 31 more affected this week.
Last week’s missed games now will be played Nov. 4, with this Friday’s games now serving as the season’s final week.
One ill-fated byproduct of lengthening the season is a conflict with the North-South and Shrine Bowl all-star games.
The North-South will be played in Myrtle Beach on Dec. 10, the same weekend as the Upper and Lower State finals. The Shrine Bowl is set for Dec. 17 in Spartanburg, with Bluffton’s Cam Bent and Hilton Head Island’s Tyler Hamilton and Bryce Singleton already named to the South Carolina roster.
Matthew’s destruction also forced SCHSL to relocate the Class 4A girls Lower State golf championship, which had been set for this month at Port Royal’s Barony Golf Course. That tournament now will be played Oct. 17 at Hartsville Country Club.
Earlier this week, SCHSL extended the volleyball and girls’ tennis seasons, with those playoffs pushed back to an Oct. 26 start. Swimming, which conducts its championships this weekend in Columbia, did not get a further extension. Cross country and girls’ golf remain on their original schedules.
New fates for Friday’s games
Coastal Christian at Beaufort Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Thomas Heyward at Dorchester Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Rescheduled for Nov. 11
Bluffton at Wade Hampton
Hilton Head Island at Colleton County
Beaufort at Berkeley
Ridgeland-Hardeeville at Battery Creek
Academic Magnet at Whale Branch
To be determined
St. Andrew’s at Hilton Head Christian
Hilton Head Prep at Colleton Prep