No more scrimmage games. No more jamborees. Now it gets real.
The high school football season officially kicks off Friday night with a full schedule of games on tap. The only thing that can dampen the excitement of the new season is the weather — and there's more than rain to worry about.
Under new safety regulations adopted by the S.C. High School League and SCISA, starting times could be delayed for games because of extreme heat.
High schools are required to use wet bulb globe thermometers, which combine air temperature, humidity and wind to determine how safe it is for athletes to participate in outdoor activities. If the WGBT reading reaches 90, teams will not be allowed to take the field for pregame warmups.
Most of Friday's games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., but Colleton County has moved its kickoff to 8 p.m. to account for the heat.
There is one season opener in the Lowcountry on Saturday that could be affected. Summerville High plays host to Cedar Grove (Ga.) at 5 p.m.
Cedar Grove was 13-1 last year and features the nation’s top-rated wide receiver prospect in Jadon Haselwood, a Georgia verbal commitment.
On Friday, Fort Dorchester takes it show on the road to Georgia for a game against Glynn Academy of Brunswick. Glynn was 9-4 last season. Fort Dorchester will host Viera, Fla., in two weeks.
In other games Friday, First Baptist and Bishop England get together for the first time since 1990 with the Hurricanes seeking to make a statement against the Class AAA Bishops. First Baptist running back Michel Dukes will look to solidify himself as the area’s top ground gainer.
Timberland, a Class AA program, travels to AAAAA Stratford in a Berkeley County battle that should be physical and low-scoring. Depth could be an issue for the Wolves but they will match up well with starting units.
A rebuilding Goose Creek squad faces a tough opener at Ashley Ridge, a team many feel can be a sleeper contender for the Region 8-AAAAA title. Junior quarterback Matt Duncan is one of the state’s top underclassmen.
With the opening of the season, The Post and Courier announces its preseason All-Lowcountry team. This year’s offense is led by Dukes and a pair of major college prospects from Berkeley —running back Keshawn Wicks and receiver DJ Chisolm.
Summerville center Daylen Powell is the area’s top offensive lineman, and Wando tackle Jaelin Edwards leads a strong contingent of top defensive linemen.
Friday's key matchups
WEST ASHLEY AT CANE BAY
Coaches: Bobby Marion, West Ashley; Russell Zehr, Cane Bay
Players to watch: QB Kenyatta Jenkins, West Ashley; WR Dominique Kershaw, West Ashley; QB Elijah Bey, Cane Bay; LB De Francis, Cane Bay.
Notes: The game marks Cane Bay’s first as a Class AAAAA school. The series is tied at two wins each with West Ashley winning the last meeting in 2015. Cane Bay could play two quarterbacks as junior Alex Mart is expected to see time under center.
TIMBERLAND AT STRATFORD
Coaches: Art Craig, Timberland; Dennie McDaniel, Stratford
Players to watch: LB Jordan Judge, Stratford; RB Mario Anderson, Stratford; DE Jamaal McKinney, Timberland; DB Tyler Sumpter, Timberland.
Notes: Stratford holds a 2-0 edge in the series but the teams have not played since 1997. McDaniel, a Stratford graduate, is coaching his first game as head coach at his alma mater. Craig is entering his 18th season at Timberland and has 205 career coaching wins.
FIRST BAPTIST AT BISHOP ENGLAND
Coaches: Johnny Waters, First Baptist; John Cantey, Bishop England
Players to watch: RB Michel Dukes, First Baptist; LB Jackson Watson; QB Will Daniel, Bishop England; WR Chris Dengler, Bishop England.
Notes: First Baptist is the two-time state AA champion in SCISA but moves to Class AAA this fall. Dukes has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in the last two seasons. Bishop England beat First Baptist in 1990, the last time the teams played.