As the high school football season gets closer to region play, area teams are finding their performance on special teams is magnified.
Some have used big plays on that unit to propel themselves to wins; others have found that mistakes there cost field position, points and – in some cases – the game.
Conway, which defeated Marlboro County 42-40, combined with the Bulldogs to miss four extra points. Both teams started going for two-point conversions early in the game because of it, and each team missed its final opportunity in those attempts, too.
North Myrtle Beach pretty much dominated Mullins. However, half of the points the Chiefs allowed came via a blocked punt returned 40 yards for a score.
Among the many reasons for points in St. James’ 53-40 loss to Cross was the Trojans taking a 70-yard kickoff return for a score.
Georgetown lost what had been a winning battle of field position when it muffed a punt return against Carvers Bay. The Bears didn’t score on that possession, but on the next series, after starting again in Georgetown territory, Nate Thompson’s team scored to make it a one-point game early in the fourth quarter.
Carvers Bay won the game 20-14.
And Carolina Forest found that – like many others that have played Myrtle Beach this season – the Seahawks’ penchant for big plays on special teams plays a huge factor in their success.
The most notable may have been Trell Harrell’s 53-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that led to his third rushing touchdown of the game and a 10-point Seahawks lead at halftime. However, that was only the beginning.
Kicker Max Huggins, who is making a strong case for a spot on one of the state’s two all-star football teams, also drilled a 36-yard field goal and a 37-yarder in the third quarter.
Myrtle Beach – which blocked a punt in Week 1 to beat Irmo – was on top of Panthers punter Ryan Yurachek on several occasions, too. Yurachek made sure all of the punts went for positive yardage, but a 26-yarder with hands in his face led to the second of Huggins’ field goals.
Harrell said after Friday’s game that Myrtle Beach’s ability to change a game on special teams is a priority.
“Teams usually don’t pay attention to special teams,” he said. “But that’s usually what wins the game.”
That was coming from a guy who just had three rushing touchdowns in one half. But it was also coming from a guy whose team is 4-0.
Victory Bell by the numbers
On Friday, the most anticipated non-region Grand Strand matchup of the season will take place at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
Conway will head to Myrtle Beach for the annual Victory Bell rivalry game. Overall, the Tigers are 32-10 in the series, including last year’s 21-12 Conway win. The Seahawks had won four straight prior to last season.
Like last year, Myrtle Beach likely will be entering the game ranked No. 1 in Class AAA (the official statewide poll will be released later Tuesday). The Seahawks will be attempting to join Socastee as the only other 5-0 team in the area.
Overall, Conway coach Chuck Jordan is 21-6 against Myrtle Beach in his 30 years – the game was not played in 2000 and 2001.
Socastee’s strong start
Braves coach Tim Renfrow has his team 5-0 for the first time since his first year at the helm (2003).
And while he said he plans to use this week to get a handful of guys back to full-strength before starting Region VII-AAA play Sept. 28 at home against North Myrtle Beach, he didn’t wait Saturday to start resting some guys. Not surprisingly, Socastee attempted just one pass in last week’s 48-12 win over Lake View, Renfrow’s alma mater. However, Renfrow also made sure his best players weren’t in the game longer than necessary.
Regular ball carriers Daquon Brown (seven carries), Tommy Lazaroff (five carries), Hunter Renfrow (three carries) and Delano Walters (one carry) gave way to a handful of backups early in the game.