For some high school football players, the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas is a chance to catch the attention of college scouts.
For others, it’s a chance to prove why they are the best in the state.
Injuries are the farthest things from their minds.
That includes Hamsah Nasirildeen of Concord, a 6-3, 217-pound outside linebacker and the No. 1 rated recruit in state. Nasirildeen is a four-star prospect, who has received offers from nearly all of the top schools in the country. He committed to South Carolina and is expected to make an impact when he steps onto the field.
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But he’s wanted to play in this game since his junior year of high school.
“My dad tells me the only people that get hurt on the football field are the people who are going through the motions,” Nasirildeen said. “So the best way to stay safe is to go hard and have your head on a swivel like you’re playing a real game.”
The Shrine Bowl pits some of the best high school football players from South Carolina against the best from North Carolina. It’s an all-star game of sorts, one that many of the players – especially those from the two states – have dreamed about.
“We’re approaching it like any other game,” said Grays Creek High School coach David Lovette, who will coach North Carolina’s team. “It’s a little bit looser than my school, but it’s an all-star game and they are here to have fun and things of that nature. But we want them to learn and try to be in the right places today. We went through special teams and offense, so it’s a lot like a regular game.”
Matthew Butler, a 6-4, 265-pound defensive lineman for Garner, who will make his decision Wednesday on where he will attend school, said he sees this game as a measure of where he stacks up against top competition.
“Getting to practice against other good players, you kind of see where you are in terms of going to college at the next level,” Butler said. “It’s going to be fun, but above all I want to win the game.”
Players for both teams have been practicing throughout the week. Friday they went through their final walk-through before the game. The game will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Wofford College’s Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, S.C.
The game made its debut in 1937. South Carolina leads the series 44-31-4. North Carolina won in a high scoring game last year, 54-39. South Carolina won three years in a row before that.
“I hope to expect a North Carolina win,” Lovette said. “Our kids had a great week this week and have come together pretty good as a team, and same thing with coaches and all the changes in players and everything. If we can avoid turnovers and not give up big plays, we’re going to have a good chance.”
Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wofford College’s Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, S.C.
Radio: WPCM 95.1 FM
Watch: ESPN App and re-aired on ESPN U.