The Jordan Hodge era at Socastee has begun.
Hodge, the backup quarterback the last two seasons under standout signal-caller Hunter Renfrow, played in his most visible action as the team’s starter Friday at the CNB Kickoff Classic at Dough Shaw Memorial Stadium. The Braves defeated Waccamaw 13-0. In the process, Hodge led a pair of touchdowns drives but also had two fumbles.
“We need to find the things we need to tweak,” Hodge said. “We needed to see it in a game situation.”
Angelo Sauter’s 1-yard touchdown run put Socastee up 7-0 midway through the scrimmage. Sauter will be the fullback replacement for Kyle Smith, who had 16 touchdowns last year for the Braves. Tailback Keyon Clora – who had 33 yards on three carries Friday – will take over that position for Delano Walters.
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Buck Bacot scored Socateee’s other touchdown against the Warriors in the scrimmage.
“I don’t care who you line up against, you better not take it easy,” Socastee coach Doug Illing said after his first appearance in the CNB. “We came in here like we were playing the state championship game. We want to be ready to play. We want to play the game fast and play it physical.”
Waccamaw also showed some of the faces that will be critical this season. First-year quarterback Trace Mills, who kicked at Irmo before moving to Murrells Inlet, was in place for the first time Friday.
The Warriors will stick with a slew of returning tailbacks and continue their run-first approach.
One player who was absent Friday evening was Socastee senior tight end Max Kjosa, who rolled his left ankle in a previous scrimmage. Kjosa, one of the area’s top recruiting targets this season, said he would be fine for next week’s opener at West Brunswick (N.C.).
St. James QB competition
St. James coach Robby Brown is unsure who will be his team’s starting quarterback to begin the season.
Friday night was an opportunity to get a closer look at his signal-callers.
Markell Johnson and Zach Werba split reps at quarterback Friday night in the CNB Kickoff Classic, and the auditions are expected to continue.
“We’re rotating them right now. We haven’t made a plan,” said Brown whose team beat Green Sea Floyds 14-6. “Tonight we played a scrimmage and [Saturday] night we have a jamboree at Georgetown. As you saw, we’re going back-and-forth with it. So we don’t have a starter named yet.”
Also listed on the St. James roster as a quarterback is Steven Deible, who didn’t see any snaps behind center on Friday.
On Friday, though, it was a pair of Sharks running backs that stole the show.
Quedarius Grate and Alam Crum each scored a rushing touchdown for St. James. Grate broke free for a 24-yard touchdown within two minutes of the game, and Crum scored on a 10-yard rush with 2:05 remaining.
“I feel good right now; we still have a long way to go,” Brown said. “We’re still putting the ball on the ground, [we have] some communication problems, busted plays, defense has got to get off the field. Certain situations we’ve had some busts there, but it is a jamboree or a scrimmage so we have a ways to go but we’re taking small steps.”
Green Sea Floyds was unable to get anything going on its first few drives, but Shaq McGill scored on a 57-yard passing play to cut the Trojans’ deficit to eight points – and that was as close as they would get.
“We started off good [on defense], but after a while they busted a few runs on us,” said Brown, who is in his first year at head coach with St. James. “You don’t really prepare for each other like a game so some of the little routes causes problems. … I was pleased knowing we didn’t work on them and just lined up and played our base defense.”
Gore, NMB stifle Conway
Blair Hardin is still working out the kinks in his new offense.
His defense gave the other side of the ball time to work out some issues.
North Myrtle Beach defeated Conway 7-0 in the 20-minutes scrimmage between the two schools at the CNB Kickoff Classic. East Carolina commitment Colby Gore had a pair of interceptions in the game, and outside of one long completion to Conway receiver Bryan Edwards, the Tigers were held in check.
“We’ve got a big game against Dillon coming up [in Week 0 next Friday],” Gore said. “This was almost kind of like a statement game. Not only to the fans, but to us, letting us know we have a chance.”
Gore said he asked to be moved back to safety after he was tried out some at cornerback. In that spot he was able to play a spy on Edwards when Conway went deep to its top-flight receiver. One of the picks came when Gore caught an overthrown pass.
The other came when he jumped in front of a deep throw to the corner of the field.
Gore’s big night didn’t end there. He also caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Kendrick Furness that ended up being the only points of the night for either team.
The play came off a bootleg, one Hardin said earlier this week will become a bigger part of his team’s offense this season as he begins to integrate some option.
The night wasn’t a total loss for Conway. The Tigers got a handful of nice plays, maybe none bigger than Ju’wan Jones chasing down a Chiefs ball carrier who appeared to be heading for an 88-yard touchdown run. Instead of the score, Jones forced the fumble and the turnover.
For the Tigers, who went 2-9 last season, those were the type of plays that were consistently lacking. Conway will open on Friday at home against Georgetown.
Panthers see positives in loss to Lions
Carolina Forest’s defense gave up more than 50 points per game last season.
On Friday, it was a different story.
The Panthers fell to Loris 7-0 during the CNB Kickoff Classic, but according to first-year coach Marc Morris, the defense stepped up.
“You have to have a great defense to win football games,” Morris said. “There’s going to be times we’re going to score and there are times we don’t and you better play good defense when that happens and go from there. I’m proud of our defense tonight; I thought they did some great things.”
The Panthers’ offense didn't see much of the field, playing for less than five minutes. But the defense has seen some improvements.
“We didn't stay on the field on offense [much], even though it was a short jamboree. They did a great job; Loris has a great team,” Morris said. “We’re proud of our defense; I thought for the amount of time they were on the field we did some good things.”
Carolina Forest quarterback Will Brunson, who recently had surgery on his hand, was seen holding his thumb in the game’s final minutes.
“He’s going to be fine,” Morris said.
Meanwhile, the Lions broke a scoreless tie as halfback Levi Moody rushed for an 18-yard touchdown in the game’s final minutes. But Loris coach Jamie Snider said his team made too many errors.
“What we hope is it gets us ready for Friday night when it counts for real,” Snider said. “We made way too many mistakes. We had too many penalties and too many silly mistakes that we need to clean up in the next week.”
Despite the mistakes, Snider sees his team’s resolution developing each week and hopes it will be ready for its opening game against St. James on Friday night.
“I like our effort and I like our intensity, he said. “I like the way we played the game tonight; we just need some more intensity and sharpen those things up.”
Belack shines in MB debut
When Kyle Belack transferred from Carolina Forest to Myrtle Beach in January, he and his family said he would be more than happy sacrificing his personal stats for wins.
He may get both.
The area’s defending receiving yards leader caught five passes, including two for touchdowns, in the Seahawks’ 28-16 victory over Aynor in the final game of the CNB Kickoff Classic.
“Everyone’s really involved,” Belack said. “I can catch one ball or 10 balls, and that’s what anyone can do.”
Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson targeted Belack early and often. Using a split offensive line set, Belack and quarterback Drayton Arnold connected on the first two plays of the game.
Four plays after that, Belack broke a tackle and went in from 22 yards out.
Moments later, Aynor took advantage of its run-oriented offense to go the length of the field and score on Daquan Smith’s 3-yard run and convert a subsequent two-point conversion.
Coach Jody Jenerette’s team mimicked that later in the scrimmage on Jalen Dixon’s 23-yard run (and other two-point conversion).
By that point, Myrtle Beach was able to open up the offense as Belack was drawing much of the Blue Jackets’ attention.
“He’s the kind of guy we want in our offense,” Wilson said of Belack. “If he’s getting a lot of catches, it will open up for some of the other guys.”
That happened against the Blue Jackets. After Belack caught his second touchdown – a 48-harder that up Myrtle Beach up 14-8 – Malik Waring was wide open for a 15-yarder and C.J. Finkley followed it up with a long one of his own.
Myrtle Beach’s only three runs of the game were quarterback scrambles, in part because tailback Brandon Sinclair was held out as a precaution after suffering a minor ankle injury. Wilson said Sinclair could have played Friday, but instead the team will give him the next 12 days either off or at light duty so he’s ready for the season opener against West Brunswick on Aug. 28.