Jacob Moreland found a way to both respect Myrtle Beach and slam it in the same breath.
Moreland, a Conway senior and Tigers legacy, was revved up for Friday night’s game against the Seahawks. He broke down what his team needed to do. And instead of referencing numbers – a common occurrence as players often memorize opponents’ jerseys off game film – the linebacker mixed one part knowledge with a whole lot of bravado.
“They’re saying last year was a fluke,” Moreland said earlier this week, referencing Conway’s 21-12 Victory Bell series win last season. “But, honestly, their best player is hurt in Chocolate Wilson. They don’t have much speed. [Defensive coordinator Kelly] Andreucci is always cooking something up for them with our front six. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some pressure on Tyler Keane.
“We’ve got a speed advantage on both sides of the ball.”
The two teams will find out if that’s true Friday night when they meet at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
Regardless, Conway could badly use another win. The Tigers (2-3) sandwiched losses to Northwestern, Rock Hill and Socastee with wins over Georgetown and Marlboro County. The latter showed that this offense may be starting to gel, specifically on the offensive line.
Quarterback Mykal Moody had time in the backfield and threw for 307 yards and ran for another 74 against the Bulldogs. Doing that against the Seahawks (4-0) would do wonders for the Tigers’ chances.
That doesn’t mean it’s as likely, although few thought it was possible last year, either.
Myrtle Beach came into the 2011 match-up having won four straight in the series. It was ranked No. 1 in the state and had earned a spot in the USA Today Super 25 poll. Moody went off, rushing for nearly 200 yards – including 92-yard and 65-yard touchdown runs.
It’s an avenue Tigers coach Chuck Jordan says he’ll aim to replicate again Friday night.
“We’re going to do that at some point every week with Mykal, no matter who we’re playing,” Jordan said. “With Mykal, you’ve got to try to create opportunities to put him in space. Whether it be against Myrtle Beach or Carolina Forest or Marlboro County. That’s your goal. He’s dangerous running and throwing.”
Moody was knocked out of last year’s game with a concussion in the third quarter. Tape of the incident that led to Moody’s injury was sent to the South Carolina High School League for review. The organization deemed there was nothing wrong with the contact, and the issue was put to rest.
Likewise, Moody spent this week focusing on what he could do to make one last impression against the Seahawks. He was the quarterback against Myrtle Beach as a freshman, when Conway lost 24-7, missed the 2010 meeting (ankle injury) and then highlighted last year’s upset.
“This is going to be a big game,” he said. “I mean, it was a good win last week against Marlboro County. But this right here, this could get us back on track. This could give us back our momentum.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the Victory Bell series was little more than a match-up between two local teams. Conway leads the overall series 32-10. Prior to last year, Myrtle Beach had won four straight.
Before that, Jordan won 20 of the first 22 games he coached against the Seahawks.
“[Former Myrtle Beach coach] Scott Early said it right several years ago when he said ‘This isn’t a rivalry.’ It really wasn’t,” Jordan said. “We had played them 25 or so times and they beat us twice in that time frame. Then they beat us a couple years in a row and it became more important to us. I think this is a better rivalry now than it has been since I’ve been at Conway. It’s gone back and forth.”
That’s something Moreland hopes to end.
He grew up watching Conway dominate the series. His older brothers Gabe (class of 2005) and Seth (class of 2009) were a combined 5-2 against Myrtle Beach before moving on to play collegiately at Coastal Carolina and Presbyterian, respectively.
Moreland helped put Conway put another notch in the win column a year ago. And like Moody, he’d like his final game against the Seahawks to be more like consistent with the old days of Tiger football.
“We’re not used to losing to Myrtle Beach,” Moreland said. “But then Everett Golson came through and it became the norm. But he’s gone now, doing his thing at Notre Dame. We should be able to stop them.
“We beat them some ridiculous number, like 20 out of 25 years. Then, all of a sudden, they think they’re on the same playing level as us. It’s just time we put them back in their place.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.