High School Football

Prep notebook | Socastee football preparing for deep playoff run

Socastee football players don’t want to get ahead of themselves while they’re in the midst of the best season in school history.

That doesn’t mean administrators and coaches aren’t planning for future weeks.

The 11-0 Braves earned home-field advantage through the Lower State semifinals courtesy of their undefeated regular season. However, a South Carolina High School League mandate states that any facility being used for a third- or fourth-round playoff game must have a minimal season capacity of 4,500 fans. Socastee’s stadium holds just shy of that figure.

However, first-year Athletics Director David Bennett said he doesn’t want to leave anything to chance and the issue has already been addressed. Working with the City of Myrtle Beach, portable seating has been arranged to push Socastee’s capacity closer to 5,500 fans should the Braves beat Berkeley (5-6) on Friday and advance another week of the playoffs.

“We’re all one big county,” Bennett said. “We want to everyone to do well.”

That’s not to say an opposing coach – be it anyone who was slated to come to Socastee or any other facility – couldn’t challenge the requirements. SCHSL rules state that a visiting school or coach can protest the seating capacities. If a stadium is found to fall short, the game can be moved to a neutral site.

It doesn’t happen often, but again, losing a home game that deep in the playoffs isn’t worth the risk. Schools routinely contract vendors to arrange for temporary seating in advance of a potential protest.

Bennett said the additional bleachers – a pair of 500-seat portables – will likely be installed in the end zone. That will add to the home-side seating and the 2,000 or so spots available on the visitor’s side.

Those same portable units would be available should the Braves also qualify to have the Lower State title game at home. In order for that to happen, Socastee would have to win two more games, this week’s against Berkeley and then next week against the winner of the Hartsville-Swansea game. Fellow Lower State No. 1 seeds Hanahan (which plays Myrtle Beach this week) and Strom Thurmond would also have to lose in the next two weeks.

As for next week, Should Hartsville and Socastee both win, it would pit a pair of 12-0 teams and be considered the biggest game ever for the Braves’ program.

If all that takes place, thanks to the aforementioned preparation, the game will be at Socastee.

“I hope,” Bennett said of the additional bleachers, “we get to use them.”

Legacy building

Aynor’s football program already has playoff victories in back-to-back seasons.

But the Blue Jackets are at a point where this year’s crop of seniors can start talking about building something that can’t be erased by their impending graduations. Aynor (8-3) has won eight games for the first time since 1990.

With a victory Friday at Lee Central in the second round of the Class AA, Division II playoffs, the Blue Jackets can also record a second postseason win in the same season for the first time since 1989.

“I think they’ve already got a legacy going,” Aynor coach Jody Jenerette said. “What they’ve done this year has been incredible. The thing about it, the ’88, ’89, ‘91 teams, people still talk about those teams.”

Jenerette was a member of those Aynor teams. Having never gone too far from his alma mater for too long, he knows firsthand that the conversations about those days exist.

He’s ready to pass the torch to his current seniors – maybe none other than running back Hunter Windham. So far this season, Windham has already topped the 1,000-yard mark and become the focal point of an offense that scored at least 40 point in five of its 11 games.

Last week against Kingstree, Windham ran the ball 30 times for 190 yards.

This week, though, Aynor players won’t just be fighting for an opportunity to extend on their own legacies; they’ll be playing a team with similar aspirations.

Lee Central High has only been open for a little over a decade, and the school’s first varsity football team played in 2000.

This year’s 7-3 mark is tied for the best in the Stallions’ brief history, and they’ve never made it beyond the second round of the playoffs.

“Our guys this year have done some stuff that no one has done in school history,” Lee Central coach Baron Turner said. “The school only being 12 years old, having the first-round bye was the first thing. Winning seven games was another thing. I stress to our guys ‘Keep making history.’ ”

On Friday, one of these teams will.

Palmetto Champions Award

Conway quarterback Mykal Moody and three area coaches have been selected for the South Carolina Palmetto Champions All-Star Football Team.

One lineman, back, a specialist and a coach from each of the state’s four classes (and Big 16 programs) were picked for recognition. Moody was joined locally by Socastee coach Tim Renfrow, Aynor coach Jody Jenerette and Carvers Bay coach Nate Thompson.

The four will be part of an awards banquet Nov. 29 in Columbia. At that time, one player from each of the three categories and a coach will be honored as the players/coach of the year for the state.

Loris’ Jamie Snider was a coaching finalist in 2011.

Collins Kids dinner

Bennett is in a new role as Socastee’s athletics director, but he’s staying the course with his primary charity.

Collins Kids, a faction of the David Bennett Foundation, will hold its annual dinner Thursday night at the Peanut Warehouse in Conway. The event, which raises money for children in need around Horry County, will begin at 6 p.m.

The organization started while Bennett was the football coach at Coastal Carolina. A friend of Bennett’s son, Jeb, Collin Rabon was killed in an ATV accident in 2005.

Tickets for this year’s dinner are $100 per person. For more information, visit www.collinskids.org.

Carvers Bay hoops jamboree

Another reminder that Carvers Bay will hold its basketball jamboree Saturday at the school.

The 28-team event will be a first look for many area basketball fans.

Seven area boys teams – Andrews, Carolina Forest, Carvers Bay, Georgetown, North Myrtle Beach, St. James and Waccamaw – will be joined by Andrews, Carvers Bay, Georgetown, Loris, North Myrtle Beach, St. James and Waccamaw from the girls side.

Games will consist of two eight-minute periods.

The first game will start at 10:45 a.m., and a Carolina Forest-Carvers Bay matchup will wrap things up at 8:30 p.m. An all-day pass for the event is $6, and concessions will be available.

The regular season can begin for teams across South Carolina on Nov. 26.

Winter schedules

The Sun News asks that all athletic directors and coaches submit their fall (basketball and wrestling) schedules as soon as possible. Please email them to sports@thesunnews.com.