The Shrine Bowl annually honors the top senior high school football players in the state, pitting a South Carolina team against a squad of standouts from North Carolina.
But the 84th edition of the game, set for Dec. 19 in Spartanburg, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Shrine Bowl's board of governors executive committee announced Friday.
The Shrine Bowl still will select squads of 44 players each from South Carolina and North Carolina in October, but they will not play in a game.
"This will give our graduating seniors an opportunity to have been selected to play in the Shrine Bowl, and, as a Shrine Bowl selectee, add this honor to their list of achievements for their high school career,” said Shrine Bowl chairman Ronnie Blount.
The next Shrine Bowl is set for Dec. 18, 2021.
The game's board of governors held a special executive meeting Thursday to discuss holding the game amid the pandemic.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shrine Bowl athletic department and medical staff have been doing their due diligence in trying to prepare for the 84th Shrine Bowl game," Blount said. "The staff has been trying to glean every piece of information from the North and South Carolina governing bodies possible, everything from player selection, housing, transportation and food services for our players, coaches and athletic staff and medical personnel.
"We are learning that with the current circumstances and the monumental efforts that it will take to meet the challenges of COVID-19 in which we are now faced, are those that cannot hardly be achieved by us at this time," he said. "In short, if we are not able to produce a great quality game as we have done the past 83 years and provide the best game possible for our sponsors, players, coaches and patrons, then we should not play the game this year.”
The S.C. High School League is currently planning to start football practice on Aug. 17, with games starting on Sept. 11. Teams will play seven regular-season games with a shortened playoff format.