Ready or not, Strand teams play in CNB Kickoff Classic

Last year’s CNB Kickoff Classic was rained out, spoiling the preseason pigskin jamboree for 10 Grand Strand area teams. This year, Mother Nature appears to have a different strategy for disrupting high school football preparations.

Coaches and players are hoping Friday’s 29th Annual CNB Kickoff Classic goes off without a hitch, but a 1-2 punch of morning thunderstorms and afternoon heat have conspired to cut into much-needed practice time to get ready for Friday’s dress rehearsal and next week’s season openers.

“Our practice field is like everybody’s,” first-year St. James coach Tommy Norwood quipped at Tuesday’s press conference. “The geese are wearing lifejackets.”

Several teams have been forced indoors due to the soggy conditions, and a new SCHSL-mandated heat protocol has limited the amount of time teams can spend preparing outdoors. In fact, with Friday’s heat index expected in the triple digits, kickoff time has been moved back to 6:30 p.m. in hopes of avoiding lengthy heat delays.

Unlike last year’s CNB Kickoff Classic at Conway’s The Backyard, which was deluged and forced the event’s cancellation, this year’s game will be held on the artificial surface at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach.

“We’re just a bunch of rednecks going to a nice neighborhood for the night,” said first-year Aynor coach Jason Allen. “They’ve got the astroturf field, stands twice as big as ours, and the Jumbotron. We’re just trying not to break anything.”

The Seahawks have been sharing the field with county schools for scrimmages. Carolina Forest and North Myrtle Beach took part in a four-team scrimmage last Friday, and Conway faced Summerville on Saturday, despite the fact that both teams sported yellow jerseys. Just another example of the details to get lost in the wet and hot weather.

“We had a meeting of coaches in the district and we were saying we couldn’t remember a year when we had so many storms in the mornings,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “We like to practice in the mornings to avoid the afternoon heat and storms, but it’s been hard to get all our work in.”

Expect some first-game jitters while get a sneak peak of the high school season in the only event when you can watch all 10 teams on the same night. Green Sea Floyds and Socastee kick off the one-half exhibitions, followed by Conway vs. Loris, Aynor vs. Carolina Forest, Waccamaw vs. North Myrtle Beach, and Myrtle Beach vs. St. James in the nightcap.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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