The Conway-Myrtle Beach alumni football game in December piqued enough interest that a handful of other schools are now getting into the mix.
The games, run by Alumni Athletics USA and played between former high school players, now include three more contests set for May. Green Sea Floyds will play Loris on May 6, Socastee will take on Myrtle Beach on May 13 and Aynor will face off against Conway on May 14.
"We realized that this game gained some momentum when we played," Conway alum Adam Varnadore said. "We were the first game in the area. ... We realized they're more opportunities for other teams."
The teams, which started to be assembled earlier this year, practice once a week without pads so the majority of the hitting will have to wait for game day.
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That's not an issue, though, considering most of the players haven't seen real contact in a decade. That's where guys like Socastee's Terrance Butler are the anomaly.
Butler, a 2005 Braves graduate, was a two-time Toast of the Coast selection, the Male Athlete of the Year and a South Carolina Mr. Football runner-up his senior season at Socastee and starter for Presbyterian for four seasons. There he was a two-time Sports Network All-American receiver and kick returner.
He even worked out with a few NFL teams after college.
For the alumni game, though, he'll primarily be playing with guys whose careers ended in the 1990s and even 1980s.
"There's a bunch of them who have been out of school way longer than I have," Butler said.
Just like the other three teams that are playing in their first alumni event, Socastee's interest in a game spiked after the success Conway and Myrtle Beach had with theirs.
The teams raised money for their respective schools, and as many as 50 players per team were able to strap on pads again and show what they could do.
All six teams are still looking for more players. Those interested in playing in the game can contact Cammeron Ripley, the East Coast Event Coordinator at 864-356-3626, or via the organization's website, www.alumniathleticsusa.com.
Sharks getting national attention
The loaded St. James baseball team didn't take long to get some serious pub.
The Sharks, who are 6-0 and last weekend won the International Paper Classic in Georgetown, were ranked No. 33 nationally in the Perfect Game top 50 listings that came out last week.
"It's a nice accomplishment to be ranked nationally," coach Robbie Centracchio said Monday. "A lot of that has to do with wining the IP and having so many guys getting looks [by pro scouts]."
Centracchio's team has seven players who have already signed letters of intent to play with various college programs. It's believed to be the biggest windfall for any baseball team in the state this season.
And some of those guys, notably South Carolina signee Tanner English, are giving scouts reason to blow up Centracchio's phone with calls and text messages daily.
Handling those distractions isn't always the easiest thing to do, but to some extent the coach is hitting them head on.
"I was told by some other coaches who have been through this what to expect," he said.
"It's exciting. I don't think it's really harder, though. We talk about it every day. We set our goals early on. We wanted to win the IP, and we did."
One of those goals is to be the first team to repeat as region champions in a decade. That quest continues today, when the Sharks take on Myrtle Beach, the 2009 title winner at St. James.
From there, the team will have less than a month to prepare for the Mingo Bay Baseball Classic, another nationally known tournament that will include teams from up and down the East Coast.
Region VIII-AA wrestling honors
The All-Region VIII-AA wrestling team was released last week, and expectedly, Aynor's Ethan Nobles and Loris coach Thomas Britt were atop the individual listings.
Nobles, who won the Class AA individual title at 112 pounds, was named the wrestler of the year by the region coaches. Britt, who led Loris to the Lower State title match, was named region coach of the year.
The Lions had the most wrestlers earn all-region honors. Included on the team were Shan Williams (103 pounds), Malcolm Griffin (119), Jamar Gore (125), Dajuan Griffin (215) and Kendrick Butler (heavyweight). Markquell McLeod (112) and Steven Jenerette (160) were named at-large all-region selections.
Other area wrestlers who made the list were Layton Nobles (Aynor, 130 pounds) and Waccamaw's Tyler Pettit (135), Adar Singh (140) and Malcolm Gibbs (189).
Warriors 125-pounder Trey Ward was also named an at-large selection.