High School Football

North Myrtle Beach football banking on experience to end losing skid

The growing belief is not if North Myrtle Beach will end its streak of 22 consecutive losses.

But when.

The Chiefs, who have yet to win a game under third-year coach Perry Woolbright, enter the 2012 season with optimism based on growth. And even though the victories haven’t come, there’s plenty of reason to think that trend will end sooner rather than later.

If nothing else, the returning players almost look at all that losing as a way to get rid of the players who weren’t going to help change the trend.

“That’s where the adversity part comes in,” junior tailback Delonzo Williams said. “When we started losing, that’s when you started finding out who wants to play and who doesn’t want to play.”

Still, it hasn’t necessarily made things easier.

Despite the defections, the elephant in the room – all those losses – did not go away. It’s something Williams still hears frequently, be it from non-football playing friends to others close to the school.

Now that football has started up again, so have the comments.

“It’s been hard. You go out in the community, and you hear parents and everybody talking down to you and about the coaching staff,” Williams said. “You just have to keep focusing. Maybe it didn’t pan out, but this year and next year, it’s going to pay off.”

That in itself may be the reason it does pay off. There are only two or three seniors who are likely to start on both each side of the ball. The starting quarterback is either going to be a junior (Will Hardwick) or a sophomore (Kendrick Furness). Williams and at least three starting offensive linemen have at least one more year after this one.

On defense, it’s a similar trend, in part because more than 40 players who showed up to camps last year were freshmen and sophomores.

It equated to a trial-by-fire approach that Woolbright is still content with.

“You look at [linebacker] LaQuinn [Bellamy] and Delonzo, and they’ve started every game since they were freshmen,” the coach said. “They’ve already played 20 games, and they’re only juniors. … You don’t have any guys who are going to step on the field who don’t have experience.”

That’s not to say there aren’t seniors who will contribute. Starting safety Eric Baker made noise last year and then received a college offer from Navy. (He gave that school a verbal commitment earlier this year.)

Players like Baker are a huge reason Woolbright said his team doesn’t need to play “the perfect game” this year in order to win one. The scheduling probably won’t hurt either.

The Chiefs could get some positive karma going well before the Region VII-AAA slate begins. The team kicks off the season at Waccamaw, a team dealing with its own lack of success.

Home games against a rebuilding Loris team and a West Brunswick (N.C.) squad that beat North Myrtle Beach by 10 points a year ago could equate to other opportunities.

Either way, Woolbright is the first to say his team hasn’t earned any gimme wins yet. The Chiefs, after all, still have to get past their recent history.

“We can’t forget that, but we really don’t talk about that with our kids,” Woolbright said. “We worry about what we’re going to do this year. All our kids need is a little bit of confidence. If we get a couple wins and get some confidence and the kids get on a roll, we could really turn things around this year.”