Even as their teams prepared for last week’s Battle for the Victory Bell, the eyes of both Myrtle Beach head coach Mickey Wilson and Conway’s Chuck Jordan was set on the following Friday night — when the games truly begin to count.
While building an impressive resume through wins in the non-region portion of the schedule, none of those victories help teams in their pursuit of a state title. So in essence, the regular season for (most) local teams begins now.
“Just getting a win in a rivalry game against Conway is huge,” Wilson said. “But like I tell my kids, our season really starts (Friday night).”
Four of the five Grand Strand area regions begin play this Friday night, with a host of big games that could play a role in how the leagues will finish.
Headlining those is the titanic battle of unbeatens at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium between North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach. Other huge contests also dot the schedule, among them including Georgetown at Aynor, Lake View at Green Sea Floyds, Carolina Forest at Socastee and Lake City at Loris.
Carvers Bay was the lone local squad to have already taken the plunge into league play, Region VII-2A consisting of seven teams. Currently, the Bears sit atop the conference with a 2-0 record, having outscored its opponents 66-6.
When the S.C. High School League chose to reclassify ahead of the 2016-17 school year, most regions in the state’s five classes were whittled to five and six teams. Under the previous four-class system, seven and eight schools was the norm.
Once only playing four to five games in non-region play, now teams are scheduling up to six — meaningless contests to some. But don’t tell coaches the fixtures do not serve a purpose.
“We’re using these games in an effort to prepare ourselves for region play later on,” said St. James head football coach Robby Brown. “The goal is not to be at our best at the beginning, but to be at our best at the end of the year.”
Reclassification also offered a number of unique match ups, some of which have are program firsts or were not contested in a number of years.
We’re in a little different situation, as the iron tie schedule system no longer exists. Pre-region play is no longer as important in regard to winning and losing, nor is it as important as who you play.
Conway head football coach Chuck Jordan
Under the old system, games between North Myrtle Beach and Carvers Bay or Loris and Carolina Forest were not possible. However, with points no longer being delegated, these matchups are no longer mythical fodder.
“We’re in a little different situation, as the iron tie schedule system no longer exists,” said Conway football coach Chuck Jordan. “Pre-region play is no longer as important in regard to winning and losing, nor is it as important as who you play.”
But the previous six weeks of play become a thing of the past on Friday night. All that matters is the four games ahead, with those tilts deciding what these teams’ fate will be.
News and notes
St. James girls lacrosse standout Sarah Bryson committed to Coker College following visit to the school last week. … Conway offensive lineman Gunner Britton and North Myrtle Beach kicker Andrew Smith paid a visit to Coastal Carolina last Saturday for its game with Furman. Britton has a loaded schedule in coming weeks, expected to pay visits to Appalachian State, Wake Forest and Clemson. … With the game expected to be one of the most-attended in Doug Shaw Stadium history, tickets are being pre-sold at both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach high schools in anticipation of Friday’s clash between the Grand Strand rivals. Approximately 750 tickets have been allotted for those at North Myrtle Beach, while tickets will be sold from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Myrtle Beach High School front office on Friday. … After winning a state championship, the 2016 Aynor baseball team will be recognized at halftime of Friday’s football game against Georgetown. At intermission, the team will receive its championship rings.