NOTE: This article has been changed to include the updated game date and practice session dates.
Limestone University’s athletics facilities are expected to play a major role in the upcoming Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase high school football all-star game coming to Gaffney on Sunday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m.
The newly organized event – that will feature all-star players from South Carolina taking on their North Carolina counterparts – will take place at Gaffney High School’s football stadium known as “The Reservation.” Proceeds from the game will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The formal announcement of the game took place on Friday, Oct. 8, inside The Reservation’s Team Room.
Limestone’s athletic facilities will host Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase practice sessions for both the South Carolina and North Carolina teams on Thursday, Dec. 9 through Saturday, Dec. 11. The squads will utilize Jerry Richardson Field, a synthetic football field, and hold team practice meetings in the Saints’ football locker room. The teams will also practice on those dates at Blacksburg High School.
The Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase was formed after it was announced earlier this year that the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas had been cancelled for the second consecutive year over coronavirus concerns. As of now, the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives North-South All-Star Game is expected to be played as scheduled in December. That contest features high school football players from only the Palmetto State. The Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase, much like the Shrine Bowl, will include players from both Carolinas.
“The Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas announced its rosters earlier this year, but those players will not get to compete in an actual Shrine Bowl game,” said Todd Helms, one of the officials with the new game coming to The Reservation. “We have been looking to get our Senior Showcase off the ground for some time, but with the second straight Shrine Bowl cancellation, we felt the time was now. We have a short window of time to get it done, but we’re excited about giving these high school players from South Carolina and North Carolina an opportunity to compete and to show their talents to college coaches across the area.”
Helms added that having first-class facilities at Limestone for practices played a big part in choosing Gaffney for the game.
“A first-class game deserves first-class facilities – and Gaffney High and Limestone checked those boxes for us,” Helms explained. “There were other venues in the Upstate that expressed major interest in getting the Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase, but Gaffney is a no-brainer because of its passion for high school football, the incredible stadium at Gaffney High, and the wonderful practice facilities at Limestone University. These players will get a real feel for what it is like to spend time on a college campus when they are at Limestone those three days.”
“Limestone couldn’t be more excited or more honored to have many of the Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase practices here on our campus,” said the University’s Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Cerino. “We are so fortunate to have Jerry Richardson Field, as part of our Bob Prevatte Athletic Complex, that can be utilized for these practices. Limestone is prepared to help make this one of the premier high school all-stars games anywhere around. We’re ready to do our part.”
The Carolina Bowl, headed by a non-profit organization, was originally formed by Jimmy Staton as an all-star football game for middle school players. That game started out being played prior to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and then became a stand-alone contest in Durham, NC. The inaugural Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase kicks off in Gaffney this December, and Staton said his group intends for the game to stay in Cherokee County for many years to come – even after the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas resumes in the future.
Former Spartanburg and Woodruff High head football coach Freddie Brown also serves as one of the Carolina Bowl officials and he will be particularly involved in the player selection process for the Senior Showcase. Brown said that he believes some of the players originally picked for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas will be on the rosters for the game in Gaffney. The two teams are expected to have approximately 40 players each.
“There are so many excellent high school football players in South and North Carolina who deserve a chance to take part in a post-season all-star game like this,” Brown noted. “For us, it’s about providing that opportunity for them to make themselves known to college coaches.”
The City of Gaffney and Cherokee County have both made financial commitments to the Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase, Staton said. The all-star game is expected to have a major economic impact in the area, filling hotel rooms and packing out local restaurants. The organizers are also working closely with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.
The list of coaches and players taking part will be announced soon, along with ticket details. A Cherokee County recreation league game is expected to be played at The Reservation prior to the Carolina Bowl Senior Showcase on December 12.