ROCKINGHAM — Following a video conference call with the other seven athletic directors in the Sandhills Athletic Conference early Wednesday morning, Richmond AD Ricky Young confirmed that all sporting events left on this week’s schedule have been cancelled.
Although things have cleared up enough for the Raiders to re-enter the classroom, almost all of their conference opponents are still dealing with flooding from Florence — which hit both North and South Carolina late last week.
Robeson County (home of conference members Lumberton and Purnell Swett) will be closed all this week and possibly into next week, Scotland County (Scotland) and Cumberland County (Jack Britt and Seventy-First) will most likely be closed all of this week, and Hoke County (Hoke) and Moore County (Pinecrest) hope to be in school by the end of the week, Young says.
“All of those closings mean that teams cannot practice or play, so we have agreed to meet again Monday morning to try to sort out schedules. Hopefully by that time we will have a better idea of the plans of each school system and if the NCHSAA will be extending the regular season,” Young wrote in an email on Wednesday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many families in all of the areas that have been devastated by flooding from Hurricane Florence.”
The Richmond boys soccer, girls tennis and volleyball teams will miss games for the second week in a row, but arguably the biggest story of the Florence aftermath is how it’ll affect the high school football season — seeing that teams only play once a week and some have already missed a game due to the threat of Florence last week.
Head football coach Bryan Till and the Raiders weren’t too much phased by last week’s weather because they had a bye. The cancellations this week, however, have now made things a bit complicated in terms of scheduling.
A lot of coaches across the state was hoping that the NCHSAA would push the regular season back a week so that all teams would be able to make at least one of their games up, like it did back in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew, but the association released a memo on Wednesday that didn’t receive much praise from football coaches and fans alike.
“Schools that have missed football practice for five (5) or more consecutive school days must have practice a minimum of three (3) days, wearing equipment, prior to resuming competition … As you reschedule football contests, you should attempt to play during your bye week if possible. If that date does not work, you should schedule the game for the next available Monday or Tuesday in accordance with NCHSAA handbook policy 2.2.8,” the NCHSAA wrote in the memo.
Richmond football, which has already its bye week, was scheduled to open conference play at Purnell Swett on Friday, but the Rams won’t be back in school until next week. That means that the next possible day for the two schools to play — if Purnell Swett was able to start back on Monday — would be next Thursday, a day before Richmond is set to take on Pinecrest.
“Extremely disappointing response and not feasible,” said Richard Bailey, head football coach at Scotland and former president of the North Carolina Coaches Association, in a comment response to the NCHSAA’s memo. “They need to extend the season an extra week (south carolina already has) … It takes time, meetings, and practice to be able to give your kids a chance to succeed. I really hope the NCHSAA can do better than this.”
Till echoed Bailey’s sentiment by replying with a tweet that read, “Completely agree that we can do better than this!”
The NCHSAA says it is “studying ways to adjust the playoffs and will make recommendations to the Board of Directors no latter than September 30, 2018” — meaning the board will more than likely revisit the idea of extending the season, amongst other things, before the end of the month.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.