The Myrtle Beach Freedom are set to open their season this week, and the first-year American Indoor Football team is already starting to click.
This was evident after the team’s 49-22 exhibition win March 6 over the Carolina Dynasty in its first-ever contest. Now, the Freedom will officially open their season as they host the Savannah Steam at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center at 7:05 p.m. Monday.
“We’re excited because our fans our tremendous and we really enjoyed playing in front of them in our game on March 6,” Myrtle Beach coach Ryan David said. “The only problem with the team we’re playing is that they [played] their first game Saturday and we probably won’t have any film on them. The only thing we can go by is their film from last year, but who knows if they’ll do those same things from last year. We’ll see how it goes.”
Freedom owner Ronnie McCuin was excited with the fan turnout in the team’s first game as over 1,000 tickets were sold, and said he would like to see more of the same Monday.
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“We had a lot of people come out, there was a lot of excitement and we we’re fortunate to come away with a win,” McCuin said. “We’re looking to build on that momentum and want the community to come out and show their support and get behind us as we try to get another win.
“Tickets are still available online at MyrtleBeachFreedom.com, or fans can walk up and purchase tickets on game day at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.”
With several former NCAA Division I, AFL (Arena Football League), CFL (Canadian Football League) and UFL (United Football League) standout players on the roster, David said the team has been gelling nicely since the 30-man roster was finalized Feb. 14 and has seen great results at practices.
“Our morale has been great. We have some players that really take it seriously, and they’re true professionals; that makes it a lot easier,” David said. “Really what has helped us to gel is the fact that we’ve had time.”
The squad features quarterback Daryll Clark – who threw for 5,742 yards, 43 touchdowns and was 22-4 in four years (two as starter) at Penn State – and running back Alkeem Sherman (Newberry College) is among a group of former Conway High standouts reunited on the field with the Freedom. Wide receivers Eric Huggins and Jason Livingston, linebackers Jonathan Sharpe and Messiah Dixon, and offensive lineman Tim Fowler are the other former Conway players now playing with Myrtle Beach.
The Freedom also boast a few other standout players who call the Grand Strand their home. Wide receiver Ronnie Moses caught passes at Carolina Forest High before playing collegiately at Coastal Carolina, Myrtle Beach graduate Jason Booker plays defensive back for the team, Loris standout Denzel Strayhorne plays halfback and defensive lineman Marco Vereen graduated from North Myrtle Beach High.
Now, all of them have found a new team in Myrtle Beach and are eager to make the most of their opportunities.
“We have a ton of potential, there isn’t a doubt about it,” David said. “There are some factors that will go into it, like injuries and, of course, this is still new to all of our players. We have to keep them focused until the end of the year. It’s real easy to be excited the first week or two, but you have to push through it sometimes and stay mentally tough and keep grinding it out.
“We’re going to do our best to get these guys to the next level.”
But, it’s one step at a time.
“We’re making strides,” David said.