St. James football field under construction

St. James High officials hope the school's football field will be ready in time for the Sharks' home opener against Waccamaw on Aug. 19.

Collin Liggett isn’t setting up any contingency plans just yet.

But the first-year St. James athletics director and the Sharks football team are all probably crossing their fingers just the same.

The installation of synthetic turf at the stadium is slightly behind schedule, thanks to some weather delays over the course of the last two months. Liggett said the project is still slated to be completed prior to St. James’ regular-season opener against Waccamaw on Aug. 19.

However, any further delays could change that in a hurry.

“That’s a bridge we’ll cross when we get closer to time,” Liggett said. “We’re planning on playing on the 19th here at St. James. … I think we’re behind, but not by much. If we get some good weather, we’ll be good.”

As of Monday morning, it appeared as if the necessary supplies — including the base layer of the stone, the fabric that lies atop the rock and even the rolled turf had been delivered. However, the drainage line encircling the field was only partially completed and that base layer of rock — which Liggett said was set to be completed this week — was still in piles down the middle of the field.

If that stage is finished this week, the crew will then have approximately two weeks to roll out the turf, set it properly and then begin the stenciling process from end zone to end zone.

That process took upwards of two weeks to get Socastee’s field game ready. The one advantage St. James has, Liggett said, is that the similarly timed projects at Carolina Forest and Socastee are closer to completion (Loris is already practicing on its new turf), so more resources can be devoted to finishing up the Sharks’ field inside of the next three weeks.

Meanwhile, it’s down to a matter of days before Socastee can start taking advantage of its new digs.

Braves Athletics Director Josh Vinson said Monday that his team will practice on that school’s field on Wednesday to prepare for Thursday’s scheduled scrimmage against Georgetown. Vinson noted that the visiting bleachers are set to be completed that afternoon, although they’ll still need to be cleaned prior to anyone utilizing them.

Oddly enough, Socastee is the only one of the four district schools that did not schedule a Week 0 home game.

“That’s one of the reasons I scheduled away,” Vinson said. “I know they said we were going to be good, but I didn’t know.”

The Braves will head to North Myrtle Beach for the season opener on Aug. 19 and look to be in good shape for their Week 1 home game against Class 2A power Silver Bluff. Loris should also be good to go for its season opener against Green Sea Floyds.

Carolina Forest is scheduled to play host to West Brunswick (N.C.), something that should still be doable as the Panthers’ turf is scheduled to be rolled out in the next few days.

However, a solution for any more potential delays at St. James isn’t quite as automatic. The Sharks’ Week 0 opponent, Waccamaw, is also in the final stages of its own artificial surface project. Warriors coach Amondre Johnson said Monday that his field is scheduled to be game ready by Aug. 16 or 17.

Again, though, that’s up to Mother Nature.

NO WAITING AROUND

The immediacy of preseason scrimmages is going to be a bit of a shock, given that the last two football seasons have included fewer dry runs than ever before.

Beginning Thursday, area teams will all be in action in scrimmages. They’ll all then turn around and play again Monday in another scrimmage before the nine Horry County programs and Waccamaw head to Coastal Carolina University’s Brooks Stadium for the CNB Kickoff Classic on Aug. 12.

Monday’s practices were the first ones in shells — helmets and shoulder pads — for teams in South Carolina. They’re then allowed to move to full-pad practices on Wednesday and hold their first scrimmages Thursday.

HORRY COUNTY PRESEASON SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE

AUG. 4

Myrtle Beach at Loris, 6:30 p.m.

Georgetown at Socastee, 6 p.m.

East Clarendon at Aynor, 6 p.m.

St. James at Andrews, 6 p.m.

Lamar at North Myrtle Beach, 6:30 p.m.

Carolina Forest, James Island at Berkeley

Green Sea Floyds at Lakewood

AUG. 8

Wando at Myrtle Beach, 6:30 p.m.

Conway at Wilson

Waccamaw at Socastee, 6 p.m.

Marion at Loris, 6 p.m.

Aynor at Andrews

St. James at Green Sea Floyds, 6 p.m.

North Myrtle Beach, Central Pageland at Lamar, 6:30 p.m.

Carolina Forest at Goose Creek

AUG. 12

CNB Kickoff Classic, Coastal Carolina University, 7 p.m.

Game Schedule

Myrtle Beach-Socastee

Waccamaw-Conway

Loris-Carolina Forest

North Myrtle Beach-St. James

Green Sea Floyds-Aynor

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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