Carolina Forest’s football team earned the right to host a playoff game four times in the last two seasons.
And after each of the first three were forced to change location or day, athletics director Tripp Satterwhite heard the groans of “soft” players and coaches not wanting to play in the rain being the ultimate deciding factor.
His reaction to their reaction?
“It is a lot of work to move games,” he said. “I hate moving games.”
The Panthers’ opening-round contest against Lexington last year was moved to Coastal Carolina University after it was deemed that the team’s home field was unusable. Then, this year, both the first-round game against Cane Bay and the second-round affair against River Bluff had to be moved to Thursday in lieu of approaching storms.
This week, coach Marc Morris’ program will play the winner of the Summerville-Goose Creek game (which was delayed until Monday night). Although everything looks fine for it to happen as originally scheduled, it is clear that Satterwhite, Morris and all the other decision makers aren’t beyond doing what is necessary to protect players, but also the field on which they play.
“It’s a living, breathing thing that we have to take care of all the time,” Satterwhite said. “We don’t want to move a game because it’s raining or cold. We move it so we can have a safe playing surface and so we can have a safe playing surface in the future. We don’t have the resources, time or manpower or money to repair a field. We just don’t.”
The strain of Bermudagrass that was laid down at Carolina Forest’s stadium is under a constant use from February through the end of football. In that span, there will be 32 or so lacrosse games, 40 soccer games and 22 football games, split between varsity and sub-varsity levels.
That doesn’t include 7-on-7s over the summer, preseason scrimmages for a variety of sports, rented out time for outside programs coming in for tournaments and practices, which are bound to happen given the lack of available field space at the school.
For what it’s worth, Carolina Forest’s two game changes to start the playoffs this year have looked smart. In each of the last two weeks, heavy rains on Friday would have been disastrous if a game was played on it that evening. Instead, the people who take care of the field were left addressing mostly drainage issues — not the extreme wear and tear of a varsity football game on a soaked field.
Since this will be Carolina Forest’s last game at home this season — the Panthers will play at either Dutch Fork or Fort Dorchester in the lower state championship with a win Friday — the staff will overseed the Bermudagrass with winter rye sometime next week.
That is coming later in the year thanks to the team’s playoff run, but given how Carolina Forest has protected the field this year, Satterwhite doesn’t think it will cause any problems.
“I don’t regret the decision,” he said. “It’s the right decision every time we’ve done it. I think it’s unfortunate that we have to move games if it’s unplayable or unsafe. But we’re doing what’s best for our kids.”
MYRTLE BEACH INJURY NEWS
All eyes will again be on Myrtle Beach quarterback and University of South Carolina commitment Luke Doty this week, after the senior missed his team’s second-round playoff victory against North Myrtle Beach with a hand injury.
Doty, who was in street clothes and wore a brace on his throwing hand in that game, will be evaluated throughout the week to determine if he can play in this week’s third-round contest at home against Airport.
The longer the season lasts, the better his chances. However, those chances were slim last week, coach Mickey Wilson said.
“Luke wasn’t close,” he said. “So we’ll sort of punt with him and see where he’s at next week.”
Wilson said that the team is preparing to go forward with plans of starting back-up Ryan Burger until he hears differently from the training staff. Against the Chiefs, in Burger’s first full-time action, the sophomore was 13-of-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns.
He did take a sack and threw an interception, but otherwise he did a solid job of avoiding pressure in the pocket and making decisions that wouldn’t hurt the Seahawks.
Now, he’ll have a second week of practice to get even more acclimated.
“We’ll get him back in the film room, which will be huge. He’ll get all the reps in practice this week, most likely. We’ll see where Luke is at [early in the week], but as [Burger] gets more reps, he’ll get more comfortable and so will we.”
Either way, one of the bigger targets in the receiving corps, junior J.J. Jones, is on track to return. He missed two complete games after hyperextending his left elbow against Wilson in Week 9 of the regular season.
Wilson said that Jones was “real close” to returning against North Myrtle Beach, but that the receiver was going to be limited to probably 20 or so plays.
GREEN SEA FLOYDS DOMINANCE CONTINUES
If there was rust on Donnie Kiefer’s team after a two-week layoff, it didn’t show against St. John’s.
All Green Sea Floyds did was win 65-0 — setting the highest margin of victory in any SCHSL playoff game so far this season, regardless of division — and crush another Class 1A opponent. Since losing to Aynor 36-22 on Sept. 20, the Trojans have beaten all six of their like-sized foes by an average score of 47.5 points per game.
“Sometimes you end up scoring more points than you thought you were capable of,” Kiefer said. “It gives them a lot of confidence. They have confidence in one another and as a whole. They go into games thinking they can score points. We just need to play defense.”
Especially against those Class 1A foes, that hasn’t been much of a problem, either. The most any of them scored against the Trojans was eight points.
And here’s the thing.
It wasn’t like they were all duds, either.
The six consecutive victories came against McBee, Baptist Hill, Timmonsville, Lake View, Hemingway and St. John’s — in that order. Five of those squads made the playoffs (although Hemingway was a quirk since the Tigers finished with a winless record). Baptist Hill won the Region IV-1A championship, while Lake View, McBee and St. John’s all finished as the runners up in their respective regions.
Those three all advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs.
And yet, none of them have found any success against Green Sea Floyds. About the only thing they’ve done is give Kiefer a reason to take his foot off the gas after halftime.
“We didn’t play [any of the best players against St. John’s] in the second half at all,” he said. “Sometimes I feel bad for Jaquan Dixon. He could have gone over 2,000 yards [rushing]. But he’s only playing a half.”
Dixon leads the area in rushing yards with 1,389, to go along with 22 rushing touchdowns. He’s averaging 13.5 yards per carry.