High School Football

Prep notebook | St. James’ Fischer grateful for all support

St. James football coach Mark Fischer is about to “amp up” chemotherapy to fight the bone marrow cancer diagnosis he received in September.

Starting Tuesday, Fischer will be undergoing twice-weekly sessions in order to fight the multiple myeloma. He said the process, one that includes an oncologist from Duke University Medical Center and another locally, will continue through the holidays, with the possibility of stem cell replacement procedures coming after the New Year.

The diagnosis is not a pretty one. But the involvement from the community is one that has the second-year coach extremely appreciative.

“You can’t wrap your brain around it, and I’ve tried,” Fischer said. “You can’t put it into words. It’s overwhelming. It’s humbling. It makes you feel like ‘I’m glad it happened to me.’ I didn’t realize I had so much support. There’s so much love and support.”

Last week, Sharks players donned burgundy helmet stickers with the initials “RTI”, which stands for “run through it.”

The words are part of a comment Fischer made immediately following his original diagnosis: “All I know how to do is get down in a three-point stance and run through it.” The burgundy represents the color attached to multiple myeloma awareness projects.

Players from Wilson also wore the stickers, and soon enough, it appears all six Region VII-AAA schools could do the same. North Myrtle Beach added them prior to last week, and Myrtle Beach, Socastee and Georgetown are following suit this week or next.

Later this month, there will also be what is expected to be one of several on-site fundraisers for Fischer. The breakfast will take place from 8 a.m.-noon Oct. 28 at The Beaver Bar in Murrells Inlet. The event costs $5 per person and additional donations will be accepted.

The increased treatments mean the amount of time Fischer spends at the school in the coming months could decrease further. He was on the sidelines of St. James’ victory over Wilson last week, and he said he hopes that trend will not change, at least on Fridays.

“My plan is to be at practice every day. I know that’s probably not realistic,” Fischer said. “I need to budget my time and my health and pick the most important times to be there.”

Fischer said what was originally diagnosed as kidney cancer turned out to be a product of the bone cancer, and that his kidney levels are back into normal range.

Still, he admitted that doctors have told him that getting through something where the prognosis includes a seven-eight year life expectancy isn’t easy.

“There isn’t a cure for it,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to fall over tomorrow. … Time will tell how successful it is.”

That’s where not only the St. James community but also opposing programs come in. It is not the first time the Sharks and Fischer have received a hand from outside the program. He already caught a glimpse of it earlier this year.

St. James’ helmets were deemed unsafe and needed to be replaced just prior to spring drills. It took weeks for new helmets to arrive, and other Grand Strand programs came to Fischer and leant usable helmets so practice could continue.

Now, they’re stepping up again for a guy who has been in the Myrtle Beach area for less than two years.

“It speaks to the character of people and the coaches here,” Fischer said. “We are all competitors and whoever I’m playing, I want to win. We all want to beat each other. But I think everyone appreciates that this is a game, and they can separate life and game.

“I’m a new guy on the block. To be received and helped the way these guys have received me, it makes me believe I made the right decision in coming here.”

Another milestone for Moody

Conway quarterback Mykal Moody steered his team to a big Region VI-AAAA win at defending region champion West Florence last week.

Still, an overlooked portion of Moody’s game – because of the win last week – was that the senior joined a very exclusive club, one that may never have been breached in the history of the state football scene before. Moody has now thrown for 4,077 yards in his career to go along with 3,240 rushing yards.

The Sun News has been checking with various programs from around the state, as well as numerous media outlets and so far, Moody is the only known player in state history to have eclipsed the 4,000-3,000 combined plateau.

Some of the state’s most prolific all-time passers – like Northwestern’s Justin Worley, Myrtle Beach’s Everett Golson and a slew of quarterbacks from Byrnes – did not run the ball enough to reach to the rushing mark.

In the case of former Greenwood and Appalachian State standout Armanti Edwards, he simply didn’t play the position long enough to amass those kind of figures.

The only two known players to have topped the 3,000-3,000 milestone were former Marlboro County and University of South Carolina standout Syvelle Newton and East Clarendon’s Carlos Hickson. Both players may have had a chance to precede Moody at the 4,000-yard passing mark; however, neither became a full-time quarterback until his junior season.

Complete statistics for others suspected of coming close – including former Woodruff and Notre Dame quarterback Tony Rice, 1970s Sumter star Freddie Solomon or Gaffney’s Kentrell Jones, who led his team to the 1997 state title – are not available.

That’s not to say there aren’t other members of the 4,000-3,000 club out there; simply, to this point they haven’t been found.

Part of the reason Moody has continued to add to his personal list of accolades is the fact, as Conway coach Chuck Jordan said, because he’s been in the position so long. He was named the starter heading into his freshman season.

Moody missed almost the entire 2010 season with an ankle injury and then one game as a junior because of a concussion. However, his electric style has led to some gaudy numbers.

The defending Toast of the Coast offensive player for the year has already passed for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns this season while running for another 630 yards and 10 scores.

In his career, he has passed and rushed for 94 touchdowns. His 53 career rushing touchdown tally is just 10 behind 20th place all-time in South Carolina history.

Shrine Bowl rosters

The official rosters for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas are scheduled to be released at 1 p.m., Wednesday, according to the organization’s Web site.

The game, which will be played Dec. 15 at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, will include approximately 44 players from South Carolina playing against the top 44 or so from North Carolina.

At least a handful of Grand Strand players were under consideration for a spot on the Shrine Bowl squad. Conway’s Chuck Jordan coached the South Carolina team last December. Two area players – defensive backs Robert Nelson (Conway) and DaQuarius Wilson (Myrtle Beach) – participated in the game.

Rivalry revisited

In just 12 years, the Carvers Bay-Hemingway rivalry has produced some fantastic games and propelled one or the other on to bigger and better things.

This season, Carvers Bay has an odd task: preparing for a Tigers team that is down.

Hemingway (3-4 overall and 0-2 in Region VII-A) has not had a great start to the season. And most Carvers Bay fans will see their own record (6-1, 2-0) and think this is only another game standing in the way of a regular-season super bout between the Bears and Timmonsville.

Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson is thinking something else.

“When we play Hemingway, the records go out the window,” Thompson said. “They’re eight miles down the road. It’s cousins, uncles, aunts. It’s one of those games – it doesn’t matter what your record is. If you don’t [focus], you will get beat.”

Hemingway has won five straight in the series and leads the overall ledger 10-5 in the fifteen meetings between the two schools. The overall scores in the match-up also point to two schools that may be even closer.

The Tigers have scored 207 points in the rivalry, the Bears 172. That’s an average score of 13.8-11.5 in Hemingway’s favor.

Since losing the season opener to Johnsonville, Carvers Bay has been on a roll. The Bears finished non-region play 4-1 before destroying Region VII-A foes C.E. Murray and Scott’s Branch by a combined score of 89-8. Carvers Bay is trailing only Timmonsville in points scored per game and is allowing a region-best 9.5 points per contest.

Again, though, statistics may not compare with the emotion of the rivalry.

“Our folks are tired of us losing to them,” Thompson said. “I know from [Hemingway’s] point of view, they lead the series. Hopefully they are happy and comfortable and we’re a little more hungrier than they are.”