What more could a high school football fan ask for heading into the first official weekend of the 2010 season.
Call it triple-dipping. There is a full slate of local games Friday night, including Rock Hill's home opener against Greer at District Three Stadium. The Bearcats are coming off an impressive 7-6 scrimmage win over the Byrnes Rebels.
On Saturday at District Three Stadium, Byrnes is one of four teams selected by the ESPN networks to play in a doubleheader to help jump-start the new season. Both games will be nationally televised.
Byrnes, a powerhouse most of 2000, will play Hoover, Ala., at noon. Hoover also has a rich tradition of winning state championships and is so recognized nationally that MTV spent two seasons with the team and chronicled the Buccaneers and their former coach, Rush Propst, in a reality TV series.
The game will be telecast nationally at noon on ESPN.
The bonus game, the one that has fans in two-thirds of Rock Hill talking, features Northwestern hosting South Pointe at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
"When you consider the budget cuts, lost job and district furloughs, we see this as a positive way to start a new school year,'' Wallace said. "It doesn't make up for the negative things I mentioned, but being on national TV, four teams and two from Rock Hill, gives our community something to hang its hat on.
"What we have to do, and I don't have an answer, is to bring our players back down to earth. It's our opening game, we are playing our rival - so much other stuff going on prior to the game, including a big game at the stadium Friday night between Rock Hill and Greer.''
Wallace said he and his staff also must contend with Steve Spurrier coming to town to talk to the Trojans Touchdown Club on Friday at the City Club. Later that night, the four teams will be treated to a pep rally at City Hall.
Saturday's games are part of a package put together by Paragon Marketing of Chicago and ESPN. The network will telecast weekly high school games this season, but Saturday is special. From Friday through Sunday. the ESPN networks will will telecast eight games. ESPN is calling it the 2010 ESPN Rise High School Football Kick Off Weekend.
In putting its schedule together and to get fans across the nation, ESPN and Paragon Marketing chose 16 teams with national appeal to get the season off to a good start.
Games involving teams from five states - Florida, California, South Carolina, Texas and Ohio - will play in nationally televised games. The list includes eight teams ranked in ESPN Rise's preseason top 10 poll, seven ESPNU 150 ranked players and more than 60 Division I recruits, including South Pointe senior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall recruit in the country on most lists.
When tradition is used to describe South Carolina high school football, Northwestern deservedly gets mentioned. The Trojans have won two state titles and played for the championship seven times. The first was in 1982, a loss in the Division II finals to Middleton under former coach Bobby Ivey. Wallace took over in 1987 and two years later, 1989, he led the Trojans to their first championship against Lancaster.
The Trojans repeated against Gaffney in 1993, but lost to Gaffney in 1997, to Spartanburg in 2001, to South Pointe in 2008 and last year to Berkeley. But the missed opportunities in no way define what Wallace has accomplished. He led Lewisville to a Class A state title in 1986 and has compiled a 271-83 record.
Bobby Carroll worked 20 seasons at Northwestern for Wallace before going to South Pointe to start the Stallions' program. The school had only freshmen and sophomores its first year and did not play varsity football.
They were put in Class AAAA and went 3-8 in 2006. But in the last four seasons, South Pointe is 29-8. The Stallions won the Division II state championship in 2008, beating Northwestern 35-14. South Pointe lost the Trojans in last year's semifinal round and missed a chance to defend its title.
Say Hoover and nearly every football fan in America knows plenty about the school because of its run on MTV reality series, "Two A Days." But the Buccaneers are football players first and TV stars by choice of the music station. But it was a good choice.
The Bucs won five state championships under Propst starting in 2000 and were runners-up twice. Propst was replaced in 2008 by Josh Niblett, who led Hoover to another title last season.
Byrnes has been the belle of the ball in South Carolina since 2002, when the Rebels began a run that brought four straight Class AAAA DII titles under former coach Bobby Bentley.
Chris Miller replaced Bentley and won Class AAAA DI title in 2007 and 2008. The Rebels lost to rival Dorman in last year's championship game, 28-17.
Three days, 16 teams, eight games to celebrate the official opening of the 2010 high school football season. Tickets for the doubleheader are $10 and good for both games.
It's a bargain, and they are still on sale at Northwestern and South Pointe. Remaining tickets will be sold at the gate for $12 each.
Want to go?
WHAT: High school football doubleheader
WHO: Byrnes vs. Hoover, Ala., Noon, ESPN; South Pointe vs. Northwestern, 4 p.m., ESPNU
WHERE: District Three Stadium, Rock Hill
TICKET S: On sale at Northwestern's and South Pointe's athletic departments. $10 advance, $12 at the gate. Good for both games.