Though it may be Week 0 on the high school football calendar, the Battle at the Bluff football event at River Bluff on Aug. 22 has a “Weekend of Champions” feel.
Ten South Carolina teams will compete in five games at River Bluff’s state-of-the-art stadium on Friday and Saturday night.
Gators athletics director David Bennett said the idea came from a promoter, and he has been working for nearly 18 months to put the Battle at the Bluff together.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase high school football,” he said. “A chance to be part of a game like this is just a great opportunity for these kids to have this stage, to have that moment that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
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The event kicks off with Class 2A Pelion facing SCISA’s Cardinal Newman at 5 p.m. next Friday.
“We’re excited, and this is part of building our football program at Cardinal Newman, going against strong competition like Pelion,” Cardinals coach Brannon Tidwell said.
Panthers senior wide receiver/defensive back Freddie Phillips said, “It’s a real honor to get to play here at one of the nicest facilities in South Carolina, so kicking it off here is just outstanding.”
In the Battle’s most anticipated matchup, defending champion Dutch Fork and Greenwood, led by new coach Dan Pippin, square off at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s an honor to play a team like Greenwood, because they’ve got a great program, a great tradition and I think it’s a great matchup,” coach Tom Knotts said.
Bennett said, “I can’t wait to watch Dutch Fork and Greenwood on Friday night. I get chill bumps just thinking about it.”
On Saturday, Aynor challenges Gilbert at 2:30, White Knoll takes on Fort Mill at 5, and the area’s two newest programs, River Bluff and Westwood, meet in the Battle’s last stand at 7:30 p.m.
“It really is an opportunity to set a tone for your season, to start off with that big game feel,” Westwood coach Rodney Summers said.
Bennett has secured sponsorship for the event from Founders Federal Credit Union, as well as Chick-fil-A and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The 10 participating teams will return next year, and Bennett hopes the Battle of the Bluff will become an annual high school football kickoff tradition.
Proceeds from the Battle at the Bluff will be split amongst the 10 participating teams.
“We hope the community will come out Week 0 and see some great football,” Bennett said.