Seventy-nine total yards of offense, four total first downs and minus a starting quarterback lost to injury early in the second quarter. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but for the Waccamaw Warriors it was a route to a 14-6 victory over St. James on Friday night and a 2-0 record on the young season.
"It's exciting [to be 2-0],'' first-year Waccamaw coach Tyronne Davis said. "We made a lot of mistakes, but we are still working to get better. Our kids played hard, but we have to correct some mistakes."
Running back Jalen Simmons sparked the Warriors' offense when it needed him most. The freshman opened the scoring with an 11-yard run midway through the second quarter. It came after Waccamaw took over in St. James territory after the Sharks were forced to punt from their own end zone. The punt is when Waccamaw senior quarterback Alex Burdette injured his shoulder and went to the hospital to determine the extent of his injury.
"If it is separated, [he will be out] four to six weeks," Waccamaw defensive line coach Robert Burdette said of his son's injury. "If it is broken, he is done [for the season]."
In the third quarter, Simmons made the score 14-0 when he scored on a 2-yard run after his 19-yard jaunt set up a 1st-and-goal at the 1.
"He is more than what we expected," Davis said of Simmons. "He is a great kid and a ninth-grader. We expected him to come in and contribute, but not to the extent he has."
St. James tried to rally. Taking advantage of good field position, the Sharks closed to within 14-6 on Taylor Schneider's 1-yard run with 5:28 left in the game.
After Simmons returned the ensuing kickoff to the St. James 30, the Sharks forced a Waccamaw punt. St. James got its passing game going and moved into Waccamaw territory in the final minutes. St. James sophomore Caleb Duggan made a spectacular one-handed catch going across the middle but lost the ball as he was tackled and the Warriors recovered the loose ball at its own 30. Waccamaw was able to run out the clock from there.
"The moral of the team got down when we lost Alex," Davis said. "He is a very good player for us and a senior leader. Our kids were concerned about him, and they wanted to win for him."