With a more defined plan, the Marlboro County High football team will soon resume workouts for the upcoming season. The Bulldogs will start conditioning on Monday, August 3 for the season that will now begin in mid-September.
"We stopped our workouts on the week of July 4th, just to get some clarity from the High School League about how the season would be held. Now we have that and we'll be back to work soon," said head coach Bobby Collins.
Last week, the South Carolina High School League announced that football would be reduced to a seven-game regular season that will begin September 11. The region games will be moved to the first five contests of the season, allowing some flexibility in getting those playoff-determining games in.
The playoffs are scheduled to begin October 30, with the state championships being played before Thanksgiving.
"I believe that if coronavirus numbers remain high, this schedule allows the league to back things up a couple of weeks if necessary," said Collins.
The Bulldogs, and all other SCHSL teams, will be allowed to start regular practice on August 17. They will now kick off the regular season with a road game, at new Region 6-AAA rival, Manning.
After playing the five region contests, the Bulldogs will complete the regular season with home games against Indian Land High School of Fort Mill and Dillon.
"We've got only two home games in region, so I really wanted to wrap it up with a pair of home games. The Dillon game should be a great one," said Collins, who will be entering his second year with the Bulldogs.
The revised schedule will eliminate several non-region rivalries that the Bulldogs normally play. The team was scheduled to open the season with games against Hartsville, Cheraw, Scotland County and Darlington. All four of those contests will be cancelled.
The high school league plan allows for schools which do not qualify for the postseason to add an eighth game at the end of the regular season. The number of playoff participants has not yet been determined.
"For the kids, it is really important that we get to play ball. For some it is just a great experience but for others it is a chance to earn a college scholarship," said Collins.
He used his two returning running backs as examples.
"D.J. Hicks and Jacardo Riggins are guys who are capable of playing college ball. But they need to have great senior seasons to get noticed by recruiters and get the chance to continue playing after high school," said Collins.
The Marlboro County volleyball team, cheer squad and marching bands will also begin preparations for the season on August 17.
The volleyball team can begin playing matches on August 31, holding the region contests first. The season will conclude by October 19.
Collins said that even if kids choose to have instruction virtually, they will still be allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities.
He also added that this plan, like everything in this day and time, is subject to change, postponement or cancellation due to COVID-19.
Editor’s note: The High School League plan has been appealed by Lexington High School, which is proposing a move of the football season to the spring. The appeals committee met Wednesday but postponed a decision until August 10.
Revised MCHS Football Schedule
Sept. 11 @ Manning
Sept. 18 Crestwood
Sept. 25 @ Lakewood
Oct. 2 Lake City
Oct. 9 @ Camden
Oct. 16 Indian Land
Oct. 23 Dillon