Toast of the Coast

Derrick fulfills family legacy, rewrites Conway football history books

Former Conway quarterback Peyton Derrick celebrates a touchdown during a game at Carolina Forest in 2016.
Former Conway quarterback Peyton Derrick celebrates a touchdown during a game at Carolina Forest in 2016. jlee@thesunnews

Very few things in life are constant. Change, however, happens to be one of them.

Over the course of three decades roaming the Conway sideline, football coach Chuck Jordan has seen his share of top talents come and go, each leaving their own unique imprint on the program.

Unlike most walking through the door into the Tigers’ locker room, Peyton Derrick wasn’t only seeking to create his own footprints in the sand. He was following those of family members before him proudly donning the green and gold.

His grandfather, Julius, coached the Tigers from 1971-1977. His father, Dirk, quarterbacked Conway, as did older brother Dakota.

While given somewhat of a head start in regard to being part of the school’s gridiron tradition, the youngest of the Derrick dynasty wasn’t given anything — he in fact earned it.

During his time at “The Backyard,” Derrick penned his own chapter in school history books.

In addition to being Conway’s all-time single-season and career leader in passing yards, he holds the school record for completions and touchdown passes. Derrick also has two of the most prolific seasons in Tigers history.

Derrick’s status as one of the pillars in school history already cemented, the Conway quarterback may have saved his best for last.

As a senior, he completed 63 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,865 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also rushed for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“It’s something I’m going to miss so much,” Derrick said. “Just because how deep we are for Conway, the history my family has with Conway. Playing for Conway has been so special, it is something I will always remember.”

More importantly, the Tigers achieved a number of team goals — among them a pair of playoff wins, the program’s first in a decade.

Helping lead the Conway program to a renaissance of sorts, the Conway quarterback has added another honor to the many accomplished during his prep career — The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast Offensive Player of the Year.

“I think we exceeded expectations this year. Obviously, every year the expectation is to win a state title, and we didn’t do that,” Derrick said. “Despite that, we proved we could play with anyone in the state.”

According to Jordan, the thing most appreciated about the Conway quarterback was his constant desire to become better at his craft.

“When you have someone who has played for four years, you bank on their experience, kind of being a second coach on the field,” the longtime Tigers football coach said. “(Derrick) with every single year became a better player for us. I’m impressed with his maturity, not only on the football field but as a person.”

In the same vein, Derrick is appreciative for the time spent under one of South Carolina’s high school coaching legends.

“Coach Jordan only comes around once in a lifetime,” he said. “I don’t expect to again play for someone with his personality, demeanor and passion for football and what one school means to him. Most coaches stay at a school for maybe four of five years and move on to the next job. He hasn’t done that, and as a result has become a big part of what Conway football is.”

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

Editor’s note

This is the ninth and final installment of a nine-day series honoring the top athletes from the fall high school sports season.

TOAST OF THE COAST-FOOTBALL OFFENSIVE TEAM

Offensive Player of the Year

Peyton Derrick

School: Conway

Class: Senior

Notable: The Tigers quarterback completed 63 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,865 yards and 29 touchdowns this past season. He also rushed for 546 yards, scoring 10 touchdowns.

Gunner Britton

School: Conway

Class: Junior

Notable: Part of an offensive line that racked up nearly 5,000 yards of total offense a season ago. More importantly, got better as the season moved along to help the Tigers make a deep playoff run.

Cale Cagle

School: Georgetown

Class: Senior

Notable: Played a key role in the trenches for a versatile Bulldogs offensive attack, helping them to a third-place finish in Region VI-3A and a playoff win.

T.J. Gore

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Junior

Notable: Among the top running backs on the Grand Strand, he rushed for 927 yards this past season for the Chiefs, also scoring nine touchdowns.

Mahammud Graham

School: Green Sea Floyds

Class: Senior

Notable: Led all running backs on the Grand Strand with 1,188 yards this past season, en route to All-Region VI-A honors. Also scored 14 touchdowns, helping the Trojans to their first playoff win in more than a decade.

Antrix Green

School: Waccamaw

Class: Junior

Notable: The Warriors’ workhorse rushed the ball for 906 yards this past season, among the best on the Grand Strand. Also scored four touchdowns.

Hunter Illing

School: Socastee

Class: Junior

Notable: Completed 57 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,027 yards and 12 touchdowns this past season. As a result of his effort during the 2016 campaign, became the Socastee career leader in passing yards.

Caleb Jenerette

School: Aynor

Class: Senior

Notable: Originally starting the season under center, the Aynor all-purpose man would see time at several other positions on the offensive side of the ball, including running back and wide receiver. For the season, he had 1,028 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns.

Antwine Loper

School: Carolina Forest

Class: Senior

Notable: Despite finding a new face in the Panthers backfield with every offensive series, the North-South all-star’s effort in the trenches was key in Carolina Forest rushing for more than 2,500 yards this season.

Keyonte Sessions

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: A North-South all-star selection, the Seahawks’ all-purpose man had 81 carries for 376 yards, scoring 20 touchdowns for a prolific Myrtle Beach offensive attack.

Andrew Smith

School: North Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: The Chiefs kicker booted 9 of his 14 field goal attempts this past season through the uprights, his longest traveling 47 yards. He also had nine touchbacks.

Jacob Springs

School: Green Sea Floyds

Class: Senior

Notable: A North-South all-star, the Trojans offensive lineman was a key cog for an offense whose foundation was created on running the football. Was named the Class A state Football Coaches Association Line of the Year, in addition to the Doug Shaw Award during the 2016 edition of the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives North-South Bowl.

Darren Stanley

School: Conway

Class: Senior

Notable: The Tigers’ senior wideout caught 36 passes for 625 yards — averaging 17.4 yards per reception. He also had a team-high seven touchdowns.

Will Vereen

School: Myrtle Beach

Class: Senior

Notable: The S.C. State signee was the Grand Strand’s top receiver this past season, catching 54 passes for 903 yards and five touchdowns for the Seahawks.

Coach of the Year

Blair Hardin

School: North Myrtle Beach

Notable: In only a few years at the helm, he led the Chiefs to an 11-2 mark, good enough for the program to earn a Region VII-4A title and a pair of playoff wins.

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