High School Sports

South Carolina will start prep football playoffs later due to Florence. Will NC follow?

N.C. High School Athletic Association commissioner Que Tucker
N.C. High School Athletic Association commissioner Que Tucker

On Tuesday, the S.C. High School League voted to start its football playoffs one week later to allow teams to make up games missed because of Hurricane Florence.

Que Tucker, commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association, said there should be a decision in North Carolina about any possible playoff schedule changes by Oct. 1.

“We’re still giving our schools enough time to access damages to let us know what they’re dealing with,” Tucker told the Observer. “So for us to come out with anything at this point would be premature. We don’t know the conditions of the many school impacted.”

Throughout North Carolina, teams missed games because of the Hurricane last week, and some schools will be closed this week because of flooding issues.

In the Observer’s coverage area, some games were canceled, but the majority of teams played and are still on schedule.

However, that is not the case for many schools in the state.

For example, Tucker said she’s seen a video of water dripping from the ceiling and pooling on a gym floor and another N.C. high school football field completely under water. She also spoke with Onslow County’s athletics director, who told her that none of the county’s schools would be in session this week, and maybe not next week.

“There are 417 member schools in the association from Manteo to Murphy,” Tucker said. “That’s a lot to try to access. So we have not begun to formulate any major plans. What we are going to do next week is ask our schools to give us a status report: Are you back in school? And access to see how many games folks are behind. We know many will be at least two games behind and maybe more than that by the time we get to next week.”

In South Carolina, this was the third time in four years that the playoffs were pushed back. The S.C. High School League executive committee voted 18-0 in favor of allowing teams to make up games Nov. 2 and to start the playoffs Nov. 9. The state championship games will move to Dec. 7-8.

The NCHSAA pushed back its playoffs a week in 2016 because of Hurricane Matthew.

This year’s N.C. playoffs are scheduled to start Nov. 9 with state finals on Dec. 8.

Tucker said the association would look at extending all fall sports playoffs. Asked if she would entertain altering the current football playoff format to shorten it or to extend the season two weeks to allow a state final to be played, Tucker said anything is possible.

“I think you could put everything on the table because of the widespread devastation (due to Florence),” Tucker said. “But you start looking at extending football season two weeks, that’s a long time from July 30 (the first day of practice) to having a championship game the week before Christmas Day.

“So certainly that wouldn’t be ideal. ...But nobody wants to get to the point where you weren’t going to have a championship.”

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