Waccamaw will enter the 2014 season with three critical pieces of knowledge.
First, standout running back-turned quarterback Jalen Simmons is gone. Second, Tyronne Davis’ team has gone winless in region play for nearly three full seasons.
But, and maybe most importantly, this is a Waccamaw team that can say it has won a playoff game – something no other Warriors squad had done in nearly two decades.
“It means a lot,” senior Rob Ferraro said. “The mindset is we have one. Now we want to go all the way and past the second or third round.”
While Simmons has moved on after putting up 20 combined touchdowns last season, there will be no shortage of returning players who could help Waccamaw end the region skid and possibly win another playoff game.
“Jalen Simmons has been tremendous for our program for the last four years,” Davis said. “Losing him hurt. But we have been able to develop some depth.”
Ferraro and fellow running backs Tyriq Grant, Kelton Grant, Walter Reid and Justin Holmes all had breakout performances last season. Ferraro will also get some snaps at quarterback in a wildcat role.
And center Tyler Davis, Tyronne’s son, will be one of the top returning offensive linemen on the Grand Strand. Along with three other returning starters, the Warriors’ line should help first-year starting quarterback Trace Mills ease into the position and school after transferring from Irmo.
Again, outside of Mills, all of those players held roles in not only getting Waccamaw to the postseason, but staying in it for more than one week.
Its chances at doing it again could be directly tied to the defense. The Warriors allowed a less-than-egregious 26 points per game in 2013. Against region opponents, though, that number ballooned to 38.2.
It temporarily ended some positive momentum that was present after Davis’ bunch started the season 4-1.
Some of that pain was erased with the first-round playoff victory over Edisto. And now, using that much-needed moment in program history, Waccamaw is looking for more.
“Our kids came back with a little more confidence going into the season than we’ve had in the past,” Tyronne Davis said. “I hope that playoff win will springboard into the season. We’ve got something that we can look forward to, I think.”