Toast of the Coast

Socastee’s Shear uses senior campaign to make doubters believers

Offered a heaping helping of doubt on a daily basis, Zach Shear had enough motivation to fill a few plates.

By no means is the Socastee linebacker the most imposing figure, standing 5-foot-9 and weighing approximately 190 pounds.

Constantly told he doesn’t measure up, he instead made sure his production on the gridiron did.

In his three seasons as a Brave, he racked up 318 total tackles. Of those, 153 came during his senior season.

According to Socastee football coach Doug Illing, it all begins with work ethic and wanting to be the best player on the field any given day.

“He’s a little undersized, but his work ethic is second to none,” Illing said. “He’s going to outwork anybody, no matter how big, how athletic you are. He’s a tough competitor, he’s tough as shoe leather, you can’t hurt the kid because of the way he trains.

“Zach just has a certain toughness about himself.”

Earning everything he’s been given, the Socastee standout signed a National Letter of Intent earlier this week to play at Lenior-Rhyne. A stellar senior season has bore another gift for the Shear, who was named The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast football Defensive Player of the Year.

“Playing for Socastee, and having such great coaches and teammates has made this an awesome experience,” he said. “It’s good to represent the school and give hope to some other kids with a dream, not only to play college football but to excel at the high school level, too.”

As with most things, preparation is everything. A constant yearning to be a student of the game has done its part to help Shear excel as he spent countless hours in the film room.

“Film is the most important thing I could do to make myself better every week to be able to know where everyone was going,” he said. “A big thing that kept me intact was my father helping me break down film and being hard enough on me to make me compete every week, and every day to get better and be the best on that field.”

Shear said he is also appreciative of the impact Illing had on his development as a player — and most importantly as a person.

“(Illing) first helped me during my sophomore year when I first came into the program,” the Socastee linebacker said. “He believed in me that year to start me the last three games, including the playoffs. Ever since, he has always believed in me … wherever he put me and making me successful.”

Plenty nights on the gridiron will remain in Shear’s memory bank. Of course, the wins and games in which he racked up a high number of tackles are near the top of the list.

But Shear’s favorite memories had little to do with game-changing interceptions, jarring hits or even a fiery locker room speech. In fact, it has less to do with what occurred on the football field, and more with the building and nurturing of relationships.

“My favorite memory would be going to get a meal every Thursday after practice, then going to junior varsity games (with teammates),” Shear said. “I will miss just playing on that field. I will miss the brotherhood with all my teammates and the bonding I had with them on that field since the beginning.”

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @thejournalist44

Editor’s note

This is the eighth installment in a nine-day series honoring the top athletes from the fall high school sports season. Friday: Football Offensive Player of the Year.

TOAST OF THE COAST — FOOTBALL DEFENSIVE TEAM

Defensive Player of the Year

Zach Shear

School: Socastee

Class: Senior

Notable: Furthering his reputation as one of the Grand Strand’s elite tacklers, he notched 153 total tackles this past season — 10 of which came in the opposing team’s backfield. The linebacker finished career with 318 total tackles.

Zaire Barron

School: Georgetown

Class: Senior

Notable: A North-South all-star, the Georgetown defensive lineman had 62 tackles this past season, in addition to 10.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions.

Sheldon Billings

School: Georgetown

Class: Senior

Notable: Had 92 total tackles for the Bulldogs this past season, en route to earning a trip to the Shrine Bowl. Helped lead the Bulldogs to a playoff win.

Juwuan Brown

School: Conway

Class: Senior

Notable: Credited with 91 total tackles this past season, six of which were in the opposing backfield. The defensive lineman also had seven sacks for the Tigers.

DeQuan Carr

School: Carvers Bay

Class: Senior

Notable: Among the area’s best punters, played a key role in flipping position for the Bears en route to a Region VII-2A title and a pair of playoff wins.

Tyler Gore

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Junior

Notable: Intercepted three passes during the 2016 football campaign, taking one back for a touchdown. Notched 35 tackles — seven of which came for a loss — two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries.

Zack Jordan

School: Loris

Class: Junior

Notable: Had 94 total tackles this past season, including 30 in the opposing backfield. Sacked the opposing quarterback on five occasions, in addition to causing four fumbles while recovering three of them.

Kwame Livingston

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Junior

Notable: Racked up 80 tackles this season — nine of which came for a loss. Also had nine quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery for a Chiefs defense that held on six occasions held an opponent under 10 points.

Sean McGonigal

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: Racked up 77 total tackles this past season for the Seahawks. The Myrtle Beach defensive end also had 14 sacks, a pair of forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Jaylen Moody

School: Conway

Class: Junior

Notable: Had 87 total tackles, including 11 for a loss, this past season for the Tigers. The Conway linebacker also intercepted two passes, forced a fumble and had four sacks.

Whit Richardson

School: Conway

Class: Senior

Notable: Tied for the area lead with five interceptions this past season. Also had 42 totals on the season for a solid Tigers secondary.

Keyonte Sessions

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: A North-South all-star performer, the Seahawks linebacker and defensive back had 68 total tackles this past season. He also had two sacks, a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Dondre Thompson

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: Intercepted four passes this past season, in addition to recovering three fumbles. Also had 33 tackles for the Chiefs en route to a Region VII-4A title.

Cam Williams

School: St. James

Class: Senior

Notable: Had 85 total tackles this past season, four of which came in the opposing backfield. The Sharks linebacker also caused a fumble, and had a pair of fumble recoveries.

Byron Young

School: Carvers Bay

Class: Senior

Notable: The Bears defensive end racked up 12 sacks this past season. Had 77 total tackles, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception en route to being named a Class 2A Lower State Defensive Lineman of the Year by the S.C. Football Coaches Association.

  Comments