Mark Stafford has his first Derrick Law Firm Kickoff Classic in the books, and already he’s thinking up ideas to make it the experience better for fans and visiting teams.
Via the first inaugural games of the event – Northwestern defeated Conway and Myrtle Beach beat Irmo Saturday – the Kickoff Classic director and owner of 151 Sports Marketing has plans to expand, and not just the number of games.
“I think we gave the teams what they were looking for,” Stafford said. “I think we owe the fans more in 2013. When you start asking $12, $13 for a ticket when they’re used to paying $5 for a Friday night football game, they deserve twice as much.
“The game is almost circumstantial. I want them to be more pomp around it.”
Logistically, the complaints Stafford heard were relatively light in nature and similar to other first-time events. There were some public address issues, as well as some timing issues tied to the fact that Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium had not been used in a game setting yet this year.
However, the fan experience could still improve dramatically for next year, Stafford said.
He’s attempting to put together pre-game pep rallies for fans of all eight schools at Doug Shaw. In addition to the four teams that played this year, four North Carolina teams will join the mix next season. That’s eight teams worth of players, coaches, parents and fans looking to maximize their trip to Myrtle Beach.
Once the games begin, Stafford is also hoping to put on a non-stop entertainment package that could include halftime and between-game performances. He said he’s already spoken to officials at Coastal Carolina about bringing over the Chanticleer marching band.
That faction of the event will be even more important in 2013, when the Saturday slate will include three games. Myrtle Beach and Richmond County (N.C.) will play Friday. The other three games will kick off at 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. the following day.
Stafford said he expects Conway – the only other local team in the Kickoff Classic – to play the late game on Saturday. Other than that and likely keeping the two Wilmington-area schools playing back-to-back, though, Stafford isn’t sure which matchups he’ll use. He will wait until the conclusion of this season before pairing up teams.
“It’s my job to do my homework and find out the best Saturday matchups,” Stafford said. “The North Carolina teams have all gotten off to hot starts. They’re all playing well.
“We don’t want 55-19s. We want 33-27s.”
That first figure referred to the final score of this weekend’s Northwestern-Conway game. The Trojans took advantage of their “Air Raid” offense en route to a blowout victory. The second number marked the final score of Myrtle Beach’s win over Irmo, in part due to a late blocked punt that helped the Seahawks win their opening game.
Again, though, Stafford is putting more of his focus into the experience for the fan. Included in the mix of last-minute adjustments was Myrtle Beach Athletics Director John Cahill having a mock media/coaches table built at the top row of the stands. It helped alleviate an already packed press box.
It was one of a number of ways in which Stafford said he was appreciative of the work done by the high school and the City of Myrtle Beach. Without it, he said, this weekend’s event doesn’t go off as well as it did.
“There’s always growing pains with getting everybody on board,” Stafford said. “My company is a visitor to Myrtle Beach, as well. We’re implementing new ideas to spice things up and there’s that working balance to make it seamless and organized.”
Braves rushing attack on fire
Socastee’s triple-option offense has coach Tim Renfrow’s team in business this year.
The Braves have run for 784 yards in just two games, or an average of 392 yards, in victories over Carolina Forest and West Brunswick (N.C.). The rushing tally has been big, but Renfrow said it’s a direct result of limiting turnovers.
Last year through two games, the Braves had nine turnovers and were 1-1. This season, they’ve had four. It’s not a number Renfrow is comfortable with. But at the same time, this is a team that’s rushed the ball 76 times already this season.
“Only one of them have been a contact fumble,” Renfrow said. “The others, we have been careless. I feel like we’re getting better, but we need to work on it. It’s something we work hard on. If we limit the turnovers, we’re a much better team.”
Senior running back Daquon Brown is leading the charge with 262 yards and three scores. Quarterback Hunter Renfrow is next up with 187 yards and three touchdowns. Tommy Lazaroff (144 yards, touchdown), Austin Stanley (104 yards, two touchdowns) and Delano Walters (75 yards, two touchdowns) are providing productive carries as well.
The question mark coming into the season was how the guys blocking for them would mature.
“I think on our offensive line [Saturday], from tackle to tackle, we didn’t have three [previous] starts on the offensive line,” Renfrow said.
That is changing in a hurry, and it should continue to pay off for a team that’s already established that it can run the ball. What’s more, the Braves have done it so far on the road.
Socastee will play its first home game on Friday against Lake City (0-1). The Panthers were defeated 47-12 by Class AAAA opponent South Florence last week in the team’s season opener.