Head Coach Johnny Waters.jpg (copy)

First Baptist coach Johnny Waters got a head start on football practice this year because his team opens the season on Aug. 16, a week earlier than most high schools in South Carolina. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

High school football practice officially begins Friday for most teams in South Carolina, but one team in Charleston got a head start.

First Baptist, a member of the S.C. Independent Schools Association, was allowed to begin practicing Monday because it opens the season a week earlier than other teams this year.

The Hurricanes kick off their season Aug. 16 with a home game against Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate of Darlington.

“We are really excited to be the opening game in the state this year,” First Baptist coach Johnny Waters said. “It comes up real quick, but we will be ready. Our guys have worked really hard all summer, knowing we start early. And we open with a good team, a good program. It will be a challenge.”

First Baptist's second game presents an even bigger challenge. The Hurricanes travel to Tallahassee, Fla., for a game against perennial private school power North Florida Christian on Aug. 23.

Brown commits to Appalachian State

First Baptist senior receiver Sincere Brown made a verbal commitment to Appalachian State last week, choosing the Mountaineers over fellow Sun Belt rival Coastal Carolina. Brown (6-5, 190) says a visit to Boone, N.C., sealed the deal for him.

“The environment, the setting, the mountains, it was all very special,” Brown said. “There was never a doubt for me. I know that’s the place I need to be.”

Tolar in Hall of Fame

Former Stratford High softball coach Debra Tolar was enshrined as a Hall of Famer by the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association on Sunday night at the North Charleston convention center.

Tolar won 728 games and two state titles in her 31 seasons, 28 at Stratford. Her 2016 team won the Class AAAAA state championship in her final season. The softball field at Stratford was named in her honor in 2018.

The induction ceremony was part of the annual SCACA coaching clinic, taking place through Wednesday afternoon.

Bishop England athletic director and girls basketball coach Paul Runey also was recognized for his 45 years of service.

Bishop England girls soccer coach Dave Snyder was recognized as the 2018-19 coach of the year.

New play clock rules 

A new clock rule will be used for football games this season. Following the advice of the national federation, the 25-second play clock will be expanded to 40 seconds. The change is an effort to bring more consistency to the start and stoppage of the play clock.

Under the new rule, the 40-second clock will begin when the previous play ends. In the past, the play clock did not begin until the referee whistled the ball in play, and the variance as to when that happened was a concern.

“Some officials started the clock fairly quickly while some others took a little more time to start the clock,” SCHSL assistant commissioner Charlie Wentzky said. “This will make it more uniform and consistent. The average fan watching the game probably won’t notice the change.”

Wentzky said the new rule will likely not speed up the game itself. The game clock will still stop on out-of-bounds plays, incomplete passes, first downs and penalties.

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