High School Football

Young Waccamaw squad looks to bounce back from 2011 season

Tyronne Davis knows wins are going to be hard to come by.

And after winning just five games at Waccamaw in his first two seasons, he realizes depth is not one of his program’s strengths. He found that out the hard way a year ago, when the crux of his offense went down for the year in the second game.

This time around, he’s doing his best to plan for all possibilities.

He’ll have junior tailback Jalen Simmons back in uniform. But after Simmons missed most of 2011 with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, the strategy has changed.

“We’re not putting a lot on him,” Davis said of Simmons. “He’s still young. He’s going into his junior year. He had so much potential coming in as a freshman. … But with the injury last year – of course he’s a spark plug for this team – as a coaching staff, we don’t want to burden him with making him feel he’s got to carry the load of the team.”

Simmons ran for more than 600 yards and scored 10 totals touchdowns as a freshman before tearing that ACL against St. James early last season. His absence was noticeable.

In the season-opener against Latta, Simmons ran for 73 yards and two scores and was able to play sparingly. From the third game on, however, the Warriors were unable to keep up that kind of pace and it showed in the final results.

The team finished 2-9 and Waccamaw was outscored on the season by an average of 21 points per game. Part of the problem was the Warriors’ inability to keep the offense on the field.

Lack of depth on the offensive line, Simmons’ injury and a plagued experiment with spread option sets led to too many three-and-outs. The Warriors routinely punted quickly, and then the defense was taxed early and often.

It’s led Davis to go back to a more traditional offense.

Simmons will likely still be the featured back, but Carvers Bay transfer Jeffron Smalls and J.J. Sherman – who played well on the junior varsity last year – will also get plenty of touches.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to spread the wealth,” Davis said. “We put a lot on [Simmons] early in the [2011] season. Then when he got hurt, we had to change a lot of things that we did and revamp the offense. He’s a very talented young man. We’re not trying to force him through with this knee.”

Those three backs and an offensive line that returns four of five starters will have some much needed time to adjust. The team’s non-region record comes against five schools that finished a combined 13-40 last season.

They’ll need to have success early, if for no other reason that it will be significantly harder to come by late. The team’s playoff position in the second year of the new Class AA postseason format will be based on the Warriors’ showing in a Region VIII-AA that includes powerhouse Dillon, recently improved Loris, Marion, Mullins and area rival Aynor.

So far, Waccamaw has won only two region games in Davis’ first two seasons.

If that changes, it will happen with a much different look than last year’s squad. The team graduated 16 seniors, and because of that, at least five sophomores are expected to start this season.

The coach hopes that a recently added offseason workout regiment will be enough to start serious progress.

“We’re a lot stronger,” Davis said. “But again, we’re very young. We don’t have game experience.”