0805 Abbeville jamboree 6

Abbeville High School running back JR Rapley, left, celebrates with head coach Jamie Nickles after a touchdown during last year’s WCTEL Kickoff Classic at Hite Stadium.

The Lakelands will get its first glimpse of the 2018 high school football season today, but only if the rain holds off.

With thunderstorms in the forecast for much of Thursday and today, Abbeville head coach Jamie Nickles said the fate of the WCTEL Kickoff Classic will likely be determined about noon.

“As of right now we are playing,” Nickles said. “We’ll evaluate everything tomorrow, probably around lunch. The field right now is not in bad shape, so, if at all possible, we will play tomorrow.”

The WCTEL Kickoff Classic is the first of three jamborees in the Lakelands and will feature four games, with the first game beginning at 6 p.m.

Emerald will face McCormick in the first game, followed by Newberry and Ninety Six. Abbeville will get Crescent in the third game before Dixie and Calhoun Falls close the event.

“The older I get, the sooner it gets here. We’re looking forward to it,” Nickles said. “Hats off to WCTEL for putting on this event for our fans. Not only our fans, but the fans of eight schools. The festivities start at 5 o’clock, there’s free food, there are jumpy houses and that sort of thing — everybody loves that. Heck, I might even go up and jump a little bit myself, but I will definitely have a hot dog. That is our pregame meal for tomorrow.”

Security has been a topic of discussion among parents and school officials with gun violence on the rise in nearby Greenwood County.

“The way things are — and getting closer to us — we’ll continue to have discussions on security” with law enforcement officials, said Betty Jo Hall, superintendent of Abbeville County School District.

“I can’t sing their praises enough,” Hall said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t look for ways to improve. We can’t sit idly by.”

She cited Lander University, which recently increased security when hosting high school graduations. Last year, it installed metal detectors and instituted a clear bag policy.

Hall said that Abbeville wouldn’t be taking such measures for the jamboree, but wouldn’t rule out instituting either policy in the future. “I’m not gonna say it’s not something we’ll continue to look at closely.”

The jamboree circuit will continue Aug. 9 with the Greenwood jamboree at Greenwood High School, followed by the Region 1-1A jamboree Aug. 10 at McCormick High School.

“It’s sort of become a tradition, just synonymous with Abbeville football,” Nickles said. “When it starts up, you know you’re two weeks from beginning your season.”

High school football teams opened practice last week and South Carolina High School League guidelines permitted teams to begin practicing with full pads Wednesday.

Staff writer Aleks Gilbert contributed to this story.