High School Football

Moody, Conway Tigers come back older, more experienced

There was no debate when camp opened for Conway this year.

The Tigers' quarterback was going to be Mykal Moody. No ifs, ands or buts.

It's a different feeling for coach Chuck Jordan, who entered the 2009 season with a guy even he didn't know much about.

"Last year, with him being a freshman, he didn't even get to practice with us in the spring," Jordan said. "He was not able to go full pads, so we didn't really know he was going to be our quarterback until after our first couple scrimmages."

Moody showed flashes of brilliance, including a 53-yard touchdown run in the season opener against North Myrtle Beach.

He also certainly had his growing pains. At times, he struggled to read defenses. As Jordan is quick to point out, though, much of the offense's struggles had little to do with who was behind center.

Conway's offensive line last year struggled against several opponents and Moody was left running more than the Tigers would have liked. That unit is back nearly intact from a season ago, and Jordan believes that experience could help out not only Moody, but the entire offense.

"He's progressing well. But the bottom line is ... you got to surround those great players with other players and people who can make them look good," Jordan said. "I feel real good about Myke. I think he's going to do some good things. But it depends on the people we can surround him with, too."

However, Moody will have little direct impact on another area of concern for the Tigers. Conway's defense last year struggled.

Six opponents - Summerville, Marlboro County, Hartsville, South Florence, Sumpter and North Augusta - dropped at least 41 points on the Tigers last year. None was more embarrassing than the 71-21 beating South Florence dropped on Conway on Oct. 23.

That leaves six returning defensive starters hungry to prove they can be monumentally better. Defensive backs Emmit Kelly and Kendrick Evans and defensive lineman Kerwin Johnson, as well as linebacker Devonta Gore will have to bring the unit up to form in a hurry. After a season opener against North Myrtle Beach, the Tigers will have to face Summerville, a team that beat them by 35 points a season ago.