Five area football players will have their high school careers extended by at least one game.
Myrtle Beach teammates Kyle Belack and Marcus Chestnut, Loris defensive lineman Jordan Hemingway, Georgetown’s Michael Billings and North Myrtle Beach defensive back Colby Gore were selected for the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl North vs. South all-star game on Monday. They will be a part of the 44-player South squad that takes on its counterparts from the North on Saturday, Dec. 13, at Myrtle Beach’s Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
Four of those players could be on the defensive side of the ball for the all-star game, even though three of them have done most of their damage on offense so far this season.
Gore has four interceptions after leading the area with eight a year ago. This season, he is also one of the area’s leading receivers with 638 yards and four touchdowns and has rushed for another 164 yards.
Billings, who will play strong safety in the North-South game, has also had most of his production on offense this season. In addition to 14 total tackles and a fumble recovery on defense, Billings has rushed for 782 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 17 passes for 236 yards.
Billings will join a handful of North-South selections that have made the team since Bradley Adams took over the program five years ago.
“We’re not that athletic. We always have one or two guys who can play,” he said. “Even matching up with Myrtle Beach, we don’t have those athletes across the board. We just have one kid or two every year.
“It means a lot. The kids just work so hard here. I love to see their work ethic getting rewarded.”
For Hemingway, he’s part of an overall Loris defense that until last week’s lopsided loss against Dillon was ranked No. 1 in the state, regardless of class. Through nine games, he had already piled up 63 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
“The thing with Jordan, he isn’t the tallest guy, but he plays hard,” Lions coach Jamie Snider said. “That’s a huge deal when you’re looking at defensive linemen. He doesn’t just play hard when the ball’s coming to him.”
The pair of Myrtle Beach selections have both continued to excel while changing schools or positions.
Belack, the area’s leading receiver this season with 925 yards and 13 touchdowns, is closing in on the 1,067 yards he had to lead the Grand Strand in 2013 while at Carolina Forest.Chestnut, closing in on 100 total tackles, also had 17 tackles for loss and five sacks prior to last week’s win over Georgetown. He made the switch back to defensive end from linebacker as part of a scheme change with the Seahawk defense that took place midseason.
“Both of them, in different ways, have made adjustments in their games,” Seahawk coach Mickey Wilson said. “[Belack] is not getting as many balls thrown to him as he did last year. He’s having to learn at times to be a decoy. We’ve had to bounce [Chestnut] back and forth. If you asked him, I think he’d tell you it was something he didn’t want to do. But it was for the betterment of the team.”
Belack (Ohio), Gore (ECU) and Billings (Coastal Carolina) have already made verbal commitments to various college programs. Belack intends to graduate early from Myrtle Beach and enroll at Ohio for the spring semester. Billings is headed to CCU and is expected to make a full-time switch to defense.
Chestnut and Hemingway have also been receiving college interest; both possess offers from NCAA Football Championship Subdivision or Division-II programs.
The five North-South players rounded out the area’s all-star honorees. Waccamaw lineman Tyler Davis was named to the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas roster earlier this month.
For the second year, the Mr. Football award will be presented at halftime of the North-South game. The finalists this year are Zack Bailey (Summerville), Kelly Bryant (Wren), Matthew Colburn (Dutch Fork), Dupree Hart (Northwestern) and Jose Arcega-Whiteside (Dorman).