CONWAY | If Friday was any indication, Socastee will feature the same level of blue-collar determination in 2008 that it did in 2007.
The Braves hounded Carolina Forest’s offense, forcing three turnovers and turning two of them into touchdowns in a 14-0 win in the Kickoff Classic at The Backyard.A hard-nosed defense and an efficient offense was the key ingredient in Socastee’s 7-1 start last season, but that recipe disappeared in a 0-3 finish that provided plenty of offseason motivation for the Braves.
``We did great,’’ quarterback Zack Elliman said. ``It was a lot like last year. I was a little worried, because we weren’t playing with all our starters, but we came out and played football and had fun doing it.’’
The Braves were missing starting fullback Jake Fullwood and tailback Delton Walters, who are both injured, but it didn’t matter. The Panthers didn’t find a rhythm offensively until midway through the game.
``We’ve got a quarterback issue right now,’’ Carolina Forest coach Drew Hummel said. ``We’re struggling at that position right now. Matt Jolly has had some good moments back there, but Marlon Horton gives us some athleticism.’’
The Panthers entered the fall with Jolly as the starter, but Horton played the entire game under center and Jolly saw some time at wide receiver. Hummel said turnover problems were the reason for the switch.
After he fumbled on the first play of the game, Socastee’s Eric Holian responded with a 40-yard interception return for touchdown on Carolina Forest’s ensuing possession, giving the Braves the lead just 57 seconds into the scrimmage.
Horton threw another pick on the following possession, setting up Jeremy Rogers’ touchdown with 12:45 left that gave Socastee a two-touchdown advantage.
Conway 14, St. James 0 | Despite a lackluster performance from its offense, Conway scored on touchdowns from the two players expected to get the bulk of the carries for the Tigers.
Incumbent starter Seth Moreland scored on a 43-yard dash 4:11 into the scrimmage, and Dallas Bellamy added a 17-yard score with just under five minutes left. The Tigers would prefer to play Moreland on defense, and they are hoping Bellamy plays well enough to earn more carries.
The Tigers were largely ineffective on offense, but the defense shut down St. James. Conway turned the ball over on downs on its first drive and quarterback Ryne Hardwick threw an interception in the end zone on the second drive.
Myrtle Beach 26, Loris 0 | The offseason hasn’t taken the edge off Myrtle Beach’s lethal offense. The Seahawks scored on two touchdown runs and Everett Golson threw two touchdowns to Jamere Valentine in the win.
Khiry Watts opened the scoring on a 53-yard run just 1:08 into the game. Then Golson and Valentine took over, leading the Seahawks into the end zone just as they did on numerous occasions in 2007. Jerrod Jackson added the final score on a late touchdown run.
The Lions couldn’t find much running room against a Myrtle Beach defense that may be as good as the offense. Myrtle Beach had a defensive score called back by penalty.
North Myrtle Beach 27, Aynor 0 | Aynor struggled to move the ball offensively and the Chiefs capitalized on several short-field opportunities in an easy win.
The Chiefs started their first possession at Aynor’s 1, and quarterback Daniel Smith opened the scoring just 1:27 into the scrimmage on a keeper. Four drives later, Kendrick Scott scored on a three-yard score.
Dexter Green, a transfer from Syracuse, N.Y., scored the final two touchdowns for the Chiefs, who open the regular season next weekend in their first-ever, regular-season game at The Backyard.
Waccamaw 14, Green Sea Floyds 0 | Waccamaw coach Burney Bourne has said all preseason he needed to find a way to get the ball in the hands of John Gibbs. Now we know why.
Gibbs scored on a 53-yard touchdown midway through the scrimmage to open the scoring. After Rahiem Stanley’s 45-yard interception return, Akeem Point scored to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead.
Gibbs and Point combined for 84 yards on just seven carries, an average of 12 yards per rush.