CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Rock Hill Herald) - Another moment of history will have to wait for 2021.
The early September high school football game featuring South Pointe of Rock Hill and Myers Park of Charlotte has officially been canceled, a Carolina Panthers official confirmed with The Herald on Friday afternoon.
The game would’ve been the first high school football game to be played in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Riley Fields, director of community relations for the Panthers, told The Herald in a phone interview Friday that school officials from South Pointe and Myers Park met Thursday. He said those in the meeting shared the understanding that there wasn’t an alternative to canceling the game.
“Based on the important safety guidelines that have been set by both the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and the South Carolina High School League — and that includes the first day of practice and the first allowable game date — the decision was made the go ahead and cancel the game on Sept. 5 of this year,” Fields said.
“And the thing I want to emphasize is player safety is the main priority in this decision, and we’re fully supportive of the current guidelines that have been set by both state associations.”
The chances of the game looked bleak well before the two schools met with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday: On July 15, the NCHSAA announced it would delay the start of high school fall sports practice until Sept. 1 due to the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Per NCHSAA rules, football players must have eight days of practice before playing, including three in full pads.
That means the earliest a game could be played is Sept. 10. And the cross-state matchup was scheduled for Sept. 5.
In the same vein, in South Carolina, the SCHSL said the earliest the 2020 high school football season could start is Sept. 11.
“It is disappointing,” Fields said. “You know, the prospect of a game has been exciting to think about, talk about, and visualize. And the enthusiasm and support for Myers Park and South Pointe was just terrific. So while there’s disappointment that the game won’t be played this season, our plans are to look forward to 2021 and really finally establish this new tradition that ultimately celebrates high school football in the region.”
South Pointe athletic director Adam Hare told The Herald on Friday that he was sad for the rising seniors on the football team who were excited about this opportunity.
He also said he hopes this game could be coordinated next year.
“(The Panthers) kind of needed it to happen on Sept. 5 because that was the availability of the stadium,” Hare said. “And so once our guidelines came out that we can’t start games until the 11th, it was kind of obvious that we weren’t going to play there.”
Before it was canceled, the game offered exciting prospects for Rock Hill residents and the Panthers organization, which will soon have its new headquarters and practice facility on a site off I-77 between Cherry Road and Dave Lyle Boulevard.
“It’s more than just about the football team,” South Pointe football’s head coach DeVonte Holloman told The Herald in May, when news initially broke about the game. “It’s about our school, our community rallying around the Panthers and welcoming them at the same time.”