Prep notebook: Socastee to keep rivals on slate upon future move to AAAA

For The Sun NewsSeptember 9, 2013 

Socastee athletic director Tim Renfrow has chosen to keep traditional rivals on the football schedule when the Braves move up to Class AAAA next season.

FILE PHOTO BY JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Socastee’s move to Class AAAA beginning next year isn’t going to end most of the Braves’ most consistent football rivalries.

The team has already locked in games against rivals St. James and Myrtle Beach for the next scheduling block. Socastee will play the Seahawks in Week 3 of the next two years, while it takes on the Sharks in Week 5 in 2014 and 2015.

“We had our options, but we felt like from a crowd standpoint and a rivalry, we had to keep them on the schedule,” Braves Athletics Director Tim Renfrow said. “We really didn’t think twice about it.”

Socastee will also keep soon-to-be former Region VII-AAA foe North Myrtle Beach on the schedule, as well as West Brunswick (N.C.), a mainstay the last few years. Renfrow said his team has also accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Derrick Law Firm Carolinas Clash. The Braves will join Myrtle Beach and Conway among Grand Strand teams playing in that event, which will be held over Labor Day weekend next year. That leaves Socastee – which will be playing an 11-game regular-season slate as part of the state’s largest class – just one more game.

Renfrow said his team is searching for a Class AAAA opponent in lieu of the points system used at that level.

Keeping Myrtle Beach and St. James on the schedule, however, was an easy choice for those three schools.

Myrtle Beach has played South Florence during Week 3 each of the last four years – including this Friday’s matchup in Florence. According to the Florence Morning News, the Bruins have expressed an interest to play more Class AAAA opponents and elected not to renew their contract with the Seahawks.

It just so happens that Socastee – which has played Conway in Week 3 since 2008 – needed another non-region opponent for that week. Socastee and Conway’s game will move to the second half of the season during Region VI-AAAA play, when the Braves will also play against new region opponents Carolina Forest, West Florence, South Florence and Sumter.

Socastee’s game against Myrtle Beach will continue a tradition that has held up since the early 1980s. Scheduling conflicts based around Socastee’s initial move to Class AAAA in 1982 temporarily halted the game for two seasons. The teams picked it back up in 1984 and have played each year since.

Socastee and Myrtle Beach were reunited as region opponents in 2004, when the Braves dropped back down to Class AAA following the creation of St. James. Much like keeping Myrtle Beach on the schedule, the Braves made sure to do the same with the Sharks.

The annual S.C. 707 bragging rights game will move to Week 5, just before the start of region play for both teams, in 2014 and 2015.

After that, given current growth patterns, there is a small chance St. James could also be moved up to Class AAAA. Should that happen – or Socastee moves back down to Class AAA – the teams are almost assured of playing in the same region given the short distance between the two.

Bulldogs’ hot start

Bradley Adams has an altogether different view of his team now than he did a month ago.

During the preseason, the Georgetown coach was less than confident in the Bulldogs’ ability to maintain a high level of play, if for no other reason that he was replacing so many key players from the 2012 roster. However, after beating Conway in Week 0 and then defeating county rival Andrews by 22 points on Friday, Adams is starting to believe.

“It’s just a group of kids that is special. I don’t mean special athletically, just a special group of kids with a strong bond among the group that we have,” said Adams, who is in his fourth year at the school. “It just seems like the people who we put out there, we aren’t even sure if they can play. They just seem to get it done.

“We’re just a bunch of over-achievers out there playing football. They’re just going to fight and give it all they’ve got. I still don’t believe that when we step on the field that we’re the more athletic team.”

Georgetown has this Friday’s trip to James Island on tap, and another victory would equate to the Bulldogs’ first 3-0 start since 2006. If that happens, it will be a direct attribute to what Adams has described as one of his better overall groups.

While successful as a unit, Georgetown has also had some individual standouts thus far.

Tailback Michael Billings is among the area’s leaders in rushing yards with 210 and sophomore quarterback Jarvis Brown has thrown for 228 yards while rushing for another 141.

This team could really start to peak when senior linebacker Jordan Ward returns to the field. Ward injured his right ankle on the opening kickoff of last week’s win over Andrews and pretty much missed the rest of the game. He is considered day-to-day, and Adams said he will use caution when determining the player’s status as to not sacrifice him for later in the year.

Georgetown County rivalries booming

Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson is preparing for the first of back-to-back games against in-county rivals.

The Bears will host Andrews this week before heading to Georgetown next week. The games between those three schools – with occasional matchups against Waccamaw – have proved to be nice takes for the programs when it comes to gate receipts.

“Andrews is right down the road,” Thompson said. “There are a lot of kinfolk. A lot of those people, they work in the Georgetown area together. A lot of people come out for it.

“We take pride in [playing well against Georgetown County teams]. But we also take pride in the fact that we’re the [Class] A school. It doesn’t matter if you’re AA or AAA. We’re going to play you.”

While there is no official Georgetown County championship, the next two weeks are the closest thing to that. Last season, the Bears defeated both Andrews and Georgetown. Andrews won both matchups in 2011.

Georgetown last defeated those two schools in the same season in 2006.

Thompson said the rivalries could be more complete next season, when he is trying to add Waccamaw back to the schedule. According to online records, Carvers Bay is 8-0 all time against the Warriors.

Web chat questions wanted

The fourth edition of the 2013 Grand Strand Weekly Web Chat with WBTW News 13 Sports Director Jeff Zell and The Sun News high schools reporter Ian Guerin will air at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The show will be live-streamed via MyrtleBeachOnline.com, and then archived for later viewing.

Zell and Guerin will discuss all of the Week 2 action while also previewing the top games for Week 3.

Fans wishing to submit questions for the duo to answer on air can do so by sending them directly to Ian@IanGuerin.com or posted on The Sun News’ Facebook page.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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