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Socastee Braves

There was only one team that shut down Socastee's triple-option offense consistently last season: Socastee.

The Braves rely on their ball-control attack to slow down the game and keep the scoring low. When they did that _ for example, a 7-1 start _ the Braves proved they could play with anybody last year. When they didn't _ for example, a three-game losing streak to end the season _ the Braves struggled.

``We're on a three-game losing streak,'' coach Tim Renfrow said, ``but I think our kids have some more confidence. They believe they can play with people. Hopefully that will carry over into this year.''

The coaching staff used the 2007 ending as offseason motivation for a team that returns 12 starters.

``We've all just been reminding ourselves,'' junior quarterback Zack Elliman said of the losing streak. ``We thought we should have beaten Wilson. We thought we could have beaten Myrtle Beach. It's definitely motivation for everybody.

``From what I've seen, we've got more chemistry and a bunch of guys that have bonded. We're a family.''

Socastee returns a solid nucleus from a team that lost by only 12 points to eventual state champion Wilson in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.

Although quarterback Willis Mills, a great decision-maker and deceptive athlete, is gone, Elliman will drive the offense after playing receiver and defensive back in past years. He is joined by 800-yard fullback Jake Fullwood and speedy tailback Delton Walters. The only offensive question mark is the line, which graduated three starters.

The defense, which gave up 17.8 points per game last season, should be improved. Three defensive linemen and two linebackers return, anchoring the front seven.

``We feel like we've got a lot of kids that have played, so we have a lot of experience, more than we have had,'' Renfrow said. ``We lost some starters, but we feel like our numbers are getting better. That's going to be a plus for us.''