Jordan Ward’s season with the Georgetown football team wasn’t much to write home about.
The Bulldogs, dealing with a rash of injuries, finished fourth in Region VII-AAA and then were left out of the Class AAA playoffs just as it appeared they might be starting to get healthy. Ward was one of the players who missed time, as he appeared in seven of the team’s 10 games.
Still, he was one of four area players ultimately selected to play in Saturday’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl North Vs. South game. Now, he’s trying to use his final high school game to continue his career.
“I like the competition, and the environment of the all the college coaches,” Ward said. “It’s a great atmosphere. … Hopefully I can get some offers. It puts more fire into it. It makes me work harder.”
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It’s a similar story for the area’s other three selections. Loris linebacker Quavon Bellamy and Conway receiver Ikeem Coles were also part of the original selection process.
Myrtle Beach defensive lineman Heath Gray was added to the roster as an alternate last week after another defensive player was moved up to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, be he will not be able to participate due to a shoulder injury.
None of the four currently have any official offers to play in college. But with scores of small-school coaches in attendance this week (NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision coaches are not allowed to attend), there have been plenty of chances to stand out among the state’s best players.
“The most important thing is trying to impress the colleges that are looking at me,” Coles said. “I need to be competitive. You’ve got them watching every step you make, so you’ve got to be watching your Ps and Qs. They’re focusing on you.”
That’s not always the easiest thing to do in all-star events. For starters, the players lining up alongside each other have nine practices to acclimate to each other prior to Saturday’s game.
It often leads to mental errors and poor assignments. Overcoming that, however, can pay dividends in terms of a chance to play football at the next level. After all, many of these colleges won’t make a trip to an individual school; they will, however, come to Doug Shaw to see 88 players from around the state at one time.
It’s another opportunity for players to expand on the tape they put together from their senior seasons. Gray has more than most.
The lineman helped lead Myrtle Beach to the Class AAA state championship – won last week against Daniel – by recording 80 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
From his linebacker position, Bellamy was the centerpiece of a Loris defense that allowed 11.9 points per game this season. He helped the Lions to the third round of the Class AA, Division I playoffs, where they lost to eventual state champion Dillon. Bellamy piled up 148 total tackles and six tackles for loss this year.
He’ll spend a fair amount of time lined up next to Ward. When he was able to overcome a nagging ankle injury and play, the Georgetown senior had 71 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Cole, the lone area offensive player selected for the game, was second in receptions (34), yards (512) and touchdowns receptions (five) for Conway this season. It was his only year on that side of the ball after starting at defensive back as a junior.