Time and again, Hunter Renfrow showed how dangerous he could be as a junior.
Now a senior, the Socastee quarterback is ready for his and his team’s encore.
The signal caller is among a group of returning players who last year led the Braves to their best season in school history. There was an undefeated regular season, a Region VII-AAA title and victories over Myrtle Beach and Conway in the same season for the first time in a decade. Socastee advanced to the third round of the Class AAA playoffs, where it lost to eventually state champion Hartsville.
And even though the Braves enter 2013 with new head coach Doug Illing and sustained number of influential losses from last year’s squad, the performances Renfrow has already put on have opposing coaches believing the Braves are a region front-runner.
“You can’t hide him. Everyone knows about him. That’s the bad thing,” Illing said. “It puts a lot of pressure on your team to get to the expected level. You’re set up for failure is what you are. Everyone has you up on a pedestal. You can’t get caught up in it.
“He’s not Superman. He’s a great athlete. He’s a great player.”
Few will argue Renfrow’s value.
Last season, he racked up 1,418 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground while throwing for another 560 yards and eight touchdowns out of the Braves’ triple-option offense. He earned a number of awards, but more importantly, he gives Illing a top-flight player to rely on during the coach’s first year.
Both coach and player, however, say Socastee isn’t a one-man team.
“I have great teammates who support me, and I can’t do it by myself,” Renfrow said. “It’s exciting for everyone else on my team. If they slow me down, they’ll have chances. If they game plan only for me, they’ll get the ball and make things happen.”
After running a spread offense at Davie County (N.C.), Illing tinkered with small parts of Socastee’s long-established offense. In part, he’s looking for the best ways to maximize the scheme while preventing opposing teams from stacking the box to slow down the Braves’ quarterback.
“Other people need to do their job, whether it’s a run or a pass or an option,” Illing said. “Everyone needs to pull their own weight. If other people can make plays, that puts pressure on defenses so they can’t just key on No. 7.”
Much of that responsibility will fall on a trio of seniors, tailback Delano Walters and receivers Kris Simmons and Stephen Gursky. A relatively intact group of offensive linemen that lost only one senior from 2012 should also help.
Defensively, there are concerns, as five key starters from last year’s team graduated. There’s a chance some of the games could turn into track meets while that side of the ball acclimates to fresh faces on the field.
But if anything is clear after that 12-1 season, it is that Socastee football is entering the year with high expectations and loads of talent.
“We’re ready. As a team, we’re ready,” Renfrow said. “We had such a great season last year. We’re ready to potentially do it again.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.