Heat makes practicing difficult

The heat soars as Loris High School Lions prepare for the season in a scrimmage with Myrtle Beach. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Marc Morris and Tripp Satterwhite had the perfect preseason scrimmage in place.

Carolina Forest’s head football coach and the school’s athletics director worked old relationships to get two of their former North Carolina programs to head to town, locked in North Myrtle Beach to round out the four-team session and were prepped for a Saturday morning that would help all of them get better for the 2019 campaign.

The wet bulb globe thermometer (WBGT) sitting in the east end zone of Panther Stadium ended it all before it could start.

The device - which gauges for ambient temperature, relative humidity, wind and solar radiation - was above the 86.9 reading allowed for full-contact practice by 8:20 a.m., 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start for the four varsity teams.

“You finally get your program to where people want to come and be a part of what you’re doing. It’s disappointing when you’re standing on a field and it’s beautiful outside and you can’t play,” Morris said. “There’s nothing you can do about it. … In 26 years, it’s the first one I’ve ever not played because it was too pretty out.”

Morris wasn’t arguing with the result of the WBGT. In fact, before the scrimmage was officially cancelled and the device was taken down around 8:45 a.m., the reading was already pushing the next threshold, which would have required that any outside activities be conducted in no protective equipment for a maximum of one hour.

That didn’t stop Morris, North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel or their counterparts from the two North Carolina schools to show some visible frustration. They believed they had done everything right. Cleveland County (N.C.), Morris’ previous school before taking over at Carolina Forest in 2014, arrived Friday evening and put up the entire team in hotel rooms.

Lumberton (N.C.), where Satterwhite was previously the athletics director, drove down early Saturday morning.

Reel agreed to a morning scrimmage so that players with work and outside requirements could have the rest of the day to accomplish them.

It was all for naught.

“If we didn’t follow the rules and got some kid hurt, we’d feel a whole lot worse than we do now,” Reel said.

North Myrtle Beach is now backed into a bit of corner. The Chiefs open the season Aug. 23, and along with the rest of the county are committed to Friday’s CNB Kickoff Classic at Coastal Carolina. Given the three-day required waiting period between scrimmages in South Carolina, that leaves Monday as the final opportunity for Reel’s team to play a second one. North Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest have tentatively re-scheduled a head-to-head scrimmage for Monday evening. However, given the chances for high temperatures and/or pop-up storms, that’s certainly not a given this time of year.

“Any time you can’t get in those live reps, it’s not desirable,” Reel said. “Hopefully, we can get it in Monday.”

Said Morris: “It’s something where we’re going to have to sit down, not only as coaches, but as a county, and try to figure it out.”

That is easier said than done, because there are only so many ways to navigate preseason scheduling. For starters, local teams who play each other in real games try to avoid scrimmaging each other during the preseason.

So that leaves finding out-of-area opponents, and that means advanced planning before any weather pattern can be realistically predicted. Early evening practices are still frequently pushed back — as Myrtle Beach’s at Loris was Thursday — because of WBGT readings, while schools are leaned on not to start them after 8 p.m. if at all possible.

Afternoon sessions are nearly impossible. And by late morning each day, teams are flirting with the same problem that occurred Saturday morning.

That leaves daybreak sessions.

Morris wasn’t necessarily for starting first thing in the morning. Satterwhite said new regulations with the WBGT and the need for preseason scrimmages doesn’t allow them to rule out anything going forward.

“It’s something that we might have to consider,” Satterwhite said. “At this point, you have to take everything into consideration and roll the dice.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


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