Florence fallout again pulls plug on Friday night lights

Hurricane Florence 2, Horry County Schools 0.

That appears to be the final football score in the wake of the storm that is scrambling schedules, postponing games and canceling practices on the Grand Strand. And just as the score indicates, the deciding factor is (a) safety.

Horry County Schools announced Wednesday that schools will be closed through Friday as a result of rising floodwaters, extending the number of missed school days to nine (since Sept. 11). That means a second straight Friday with no football on the Strand, and more than two weeks since teams last practiced.

“The most important thing is you hope everybody is safe,” said Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson, a Conway High grad whose undefeated Seahawks won’t be taking on the rival Tigers on Friday. “We have communities like Conway, Loris, Green Sea Floyds that really took a beating from storm, so that comes first. Hopefully get back to normalcy. It’s tough to keep that momentum going when you can’t practice and you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

There have been discussions about rescheduling games as midweek make-ups, but any changes to the schedule remain in limbo until schools re-open. Until then, area coaches are playing the waiting game as region play approaches.

“We can’t do anything with schools out,” said Carolina Forest coach Marc Morris, whose team missed out on games against county rivals Myrtle Beach last week and Loris this week. “If we aren’t practicing, we aren’t playing.”

The South Carolina High School League’s executive committee voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the high school football regular season by one week, moving last Friday’s Week 4 contests to the end of the schedule (Week 11 on Nov. 2). While the rest of the state will play on Friday in Week 5, with the exception of Horry County and other Pee Dee area school systems that are still dealing with the fallout of floodwaters and unplayable facilities.

“The aftermath for many of our counties is one of tremendous damage: loss of homes, vehicles and other personal property, not to mention the schools and athletic facilities,” SCHSL Commissioner Jerome Singleton said in a statement. “Working as a team has and will always be the strongest characteristic the SCHSL membership displays year after year.”

However, area football teams haven’t been permitted to participate since their last games on Sept. 7 and won’t return to the practice field until Monday at the earliest. There’s also some question about whether local schools would chose to make a non-region game the week before the playoffs while potential opponents would receive an advantageous bye week ahead of the playoffs.

Last week’s cancellations included a battle of unbeatens between Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach, as well as North Myrtle Beach vs. Socastee and Georgetown at St. James. Barring another move by the SCHSL, the local Week 5 will not be made up, including the annual Battle for the Victory Bell between rivals Myrtle Beach and Conway. Other canceled games include Carolina Forest vs. Loris, Socastee vs. Georgetown, and St. James vs. Aynor. North Myrtle Beach has a bye week.

The move will push back the first round of the playoffs to Nov. 9 and the state championship weekend to Dec. 7-8, the same weekend the North-South All-Star Game is set to be played at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach.

Check back for updates.

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews.com

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