It was thought that Jody Jenerette’s absence would leave a glaring void at the annual Conway National Bank Kickoff Classic luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
Jenerette, who left his head coaching job at Aynor after 13 years in March and is now leading the West Florence football program, annually led the jocular tenor of the press conference that precedes the jamboree featuring the football teams from Horry County’s nine schools and Waccamaw High.
But his spirit lived on at the press conference, as his longtime assistant and new Aynor head coach Jason Allen carried on his tradition of ribbing his own team with a few jabs thrown the way of Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson.
Allen recalled telling his younger players what it will be like to play in the Kickoff Classic that begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
“The best way I can describe it is kind of like the rednecks moving into a nice neighborhood for a night,” Allen joked. “They’ve got that turf, they’ve got those stands twice as big as ours, the lights are twice as big. They’ve got that jumbotron. Our goal is not to break anything, all right, because we can’t pay for nothin’.
“The closest thing we have to a jumbotron is a touchscreen at Subway.”
With the luncheon performance accomplished, Allen will now try to replicate the relative success Jenerette managed on the field at Aynor. The Blue Jackets finished last season with a 6-5 record and Class 3A playoff berth out of a tough region.
He and the other coaches in attendance shed light on a few of their team’s details as they prepare for Friday’s scrimmages – which have been pushed back 30 minutes due to heat concerns – and the upcoming season, which begins as early as next Thursday for some teams.
“They’ve bought into what we’re trying to teach, a mindset, a belief of dreaming big,” Allen said. “That’s what we teach every day. Having attention to detail, that’s something that’s very difficult for these kids that want to have instant gratification. They’re learning to be the master of the ordinary.”
The team has a good amount of varsity experience returning and adds talented junior quarterback Mason Garcia from a junior varsity program that has lost just two games in the past three years – both to Sumter. “Hopefully we’ll start reaping the benefits of that at the varsity level,” Morris said.
Coach Carlton Terry, who is entering his second season and first without an “interim” tag, said the team still hasn’t settled on a starting quarterback and is still unsettled some offensive line positions.
Loris will feature wife receiver Jahrique Isaiah on offense and 6-2, 300-pound defensive tackle Javonte Turrentine on defense and will be talented but young. Snider expects to play some freshmen this season.
Doty will have experienced and talented senior wide receivers Da’Ron Finkley, Marcus Grissett and Wyatt Roache to propel the offense.
The Chiefs have to replace all of their linebackers and two cornerbacks and are young on the defensive line, but they have offensive weapons in experienced senior quarterback Cason McClendon, experienced wide receivers, a talented group of running backs and sophomore kicker Zane Smith, who Reel said is the No. 1 punter in the country in his sophomore class.
Socastee returns three starters on offense and five on defense, including three-year starting lineman C.J. Armstrong (5-11, 275). Senior Seth McKinney takes over the starting quarterback job and has talented sophomore receiver and defensive back J.J. Jones to assist.
“We have to have a little respect for our football program,” Norwood said. “. . . Some of our opponents have probably already put a circle over our name with a W. My goal is to build a program we can be proud of. Our community wants to win.”
Senior quarterback Brandon Stecz will have a group of talented receivers, though Fidler wants to consistently run the ball. Waccamaw’s new region features teams to the south and all 10 of its opponents this season made the 2017 playoffs.
CNB Kickoff Classic
Time: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Place: Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium
Matchups: Green Sea Floyds vs. Socastee, Loris vs. Conway, Aynor vs. Carolina Forest, Waccamaw vs. North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach vs. St. James