Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff Classic

Conway National Bank will sponsor the 30th annual CNB Kickoff Classic Aug. 16 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Brooks Stadium on the Coastal Carolina University campus.

“This 30th anniversary edition of the CNB Kickoff Classic will continue a long and valued tradition of assembling with students and supporters of the 10 area high schools to celebrate the arrival of a new football season and the beginning of a new school year,” said CNB President Jennings Duncan. “The anticipation of returning to Coastal Carolina University and playing in the newly expanded Brooks Stadium has created great excitement for everyone. We applaud and congratulate these young athletes, their coaches, and schools as they exhibit the results of intense preparation, conditioning, athletic ability, and teamwork.”

Ten local high school football squads are teaming up to give fans a preview of the upcoming season. The Myrtle Beach Seahawks and St. James Sharks will get the action underway to be followed by the Green Sea Floyds Trojans versus Socastee Braves, Aynor Blue Jackets versus Carolina Forest Panthers, Waccamaw Warriors versus North Myrtle Beach Chiefs, and closing out the night will be the Loris Lions versus the Conway Tigers.

Aynor coach Jason Allen said the Kickoff Classic is important for the players and the participating schools.

“It’s obviously a big deal no matter where you play the first time under the lights,” he said. “It will be to another level playing at Coastal with the additions, the turf, and the environment. It’s probably the most electric atmosphere of all the jamborees in the state to play in.”

The Blue Jackets will unveil the new uniforms they will wear this season at the Kickoff Classic.

Although Aynor lost to Carolina Forest in this past year’s event, Allen would gladly spot the Panthers a victory if it meant the Blue Jackets could also duplicate the eight-win season of a year ago.

“It’s just a chance to get better,” he said.

Third-year Conway coach Carlton Terry is excited about the event and playing at CCU.

“Conway National Bank always does a great job in the community supporting the schools and athletics,” Terry said. “Having it at Coastal is a good deal for our kids to have an opportunity to play in a Division 1 stadium. I think it is a win-win for Coastal and our communities. It helps us because we can go over and play and not worry about setting it up and getting ready to host. Our kids always look forward to the Kickoff Classic to showcase their talents in front of a big crowd. It’s a big deal for us.”

North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel is excited about the big event.

“The CNB Kickoff Classic is one of the premier preseason outings for all of the Horry County football teams,” Reel said. “Every year my players look forward to performing in front of the big crowds and getting prepared for the first week of high school football. It’s a great addition getting to play at Coastal Carolina this year and experience the facilities and atmosphere of a college setting. North Myrtle Beach High School is honored and excited to get to participate in the Kickoff Classic yearly and can’t wait to get after it again this year against Waccamaw High School.”

St. James coach Thomas Norwood heard about the event long before coming to Horry County.

“I have only been in this area for the past two seasons, but it is an event that I have been hearing about for years,” Norwood said. “I think anytime you can bring a community together for such an event is very positive on the people involved and in the area in general. With the jamboree being moved to Coastal Carolina, it will only make the event better. It will give the majority of the players involved an opportunity to play in a college stadium that many will never have again. All of us should remember what the bank and its employees do to make this work. It is a huge event for Horry County and each high school’s football program.”

Loris coach Jamie Snider considers the event second to none.

“The CNB Kickoff Classic is one of the best community events in Horry County,” he said. “It is a great way to kick off back to school as well as community and school pride. Our kids are always excited to play in the CNB Kickoff Classic and look forward to it every year. It has become a rite of passage for players, coaches, schools, and communities.”

Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson and his Seahawks are excited about playing at CCU.

“The CNB Kickoff Classic continues to grow under the leadership of Jennings Duncan, Mitch Godwin, Bonnie Galloway, and the rest of the Conway National Bank staff,” Wilson said. “Our players are extremely excited for the opportunity to play at Coastal Carolina University.”

Like Wilson at Myrtle Beach, Green Sea Floyds coach Donnie Kiefer will bring a team of defending state champions to the Kickoff Classic. The goal for 2019 is to repeat.

“You’re always in it to win it,” Kiefer said. “I’m sure for every team competing in high school football that’s the goal. We have to take it one game at a time and the Kickoff Classic is the start of that. Any time the Kickoff Classic comes around, it means it’s time for a new season. We’re excited about it being at Coastal Carolina. We think that will be an exciting time for not only the players but also the fans.”

Waccamaw coach Shane Fidler said the Warriors are honored to be included in the event.

“Waccamaw is again thrilled to be a part of the CNB Kickoff Classic,” Fidler said. “Being the only Georgetown County representative, we are honored to be invited to this event. Our kids look forward to this event every year. They know that this season they will have the opportunity to go out and compete in our area’s biggest stage – Coastal Carolina’s stadium. A large amount of high school kids will never get the chance to play on Saturdays, so this night will give them that feeling of playing in a FBS stadium.”

Carolina Forest coach Marc Morris appreciates CNB’s support of the local schools.

“What Conway National Bank does for athletics in our area is incredible,” Morris said. “Their support of high school football has been outstanding. It will be an exciting time at Coastal Carolina University. Thanks to Coastal for working it out with Conway National Bank to make it a great practice for all our kids.”

Marty Jacobs has coached in the Kickoff Classic numerous times through the years as the head coach at Aynor and as an assistant coach at Socastee. He is excited about bringing the Braves to this year’s event as the head coach.

Pre-sale tickets are $6 and may be purchased at all CNB locations beginning on August 1st. Tickets will be $7 at the gate. Proceeds will be evenly divided between the participating schools.

With this year’s event being at CCU, parking will be available in three areas with shuttles available to transport fans to and from two of the parking areas.

Also, the clear bag policy observed by Coastal Carolina University and Horry County Schools will be strictly enforced during the Kickoff Classic.

CNB Vice President and Kickoff Classic Coordinator Mitch Godwin said this year’s event will be special.

“The second paragraph of CNB’s Mission Statement begins: ‘We are committed to strong corporate citizenship and community service…’ I believe that the 30th anniversary of the CNB Kickoff Classic speaks well of that statement.

“The quality of our high school coaches and their dedication to our youth has been remarkable. Their leadership and self-sacrifice helps prepare our youth for the challenges of life they will encounter in the workplace, help them become productive assets for their employers, and enable them to be credits to society. This is definitely community football at its best.”

File photo by Janet Morgan

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