The Waccamaw High School football team wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
Facing reigning state champion and undefeated Dillon on Friday night, the Warriors scored first and hung in with the Wildcats for a half before losing 47-7.
Despite the loss, Waccamaw earned its way into the playoffs as Mullins blasted Marion 35-6.
“Our kids are excited about it,” Warriors coach Tyronne Davis said. “The first thing they said after the game was they were looking forward to the playoffs. We’re looking forward to next week and what it holds for us.”
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By avoiding what would have been a three-way tie with Aynor and Marion if the Swamp Foxes had won, Waccamaw earned the third seed out of Region VIII-AA.
The Warriors also would have earned a berth with a win over Dillon, and early in Friday’s game Waccamaw looked as if it might put a scare into the perennial power.
Tyriq Grant scored on a 20-yard fumble return as the Warriors jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Waccamaw hung in the game until the Wildcats pulled away in the second half.
“It was exciting,” Davis said. “We scored first and the kids were pumped and excited about it. We were able to move the ball some and take some positives out of it. We also made some mistakes, but we told the kids, ‘Don’t get down. Just stay happy and keep pushing forward.’ You can build from a loss like this. Dillon has embarrassed a lot of people and we were able to stay in the game early on.
“Other times when we played Dillon in the past they got up big early and you just wanted them to hurry up and win. Tonight it really felt like, hey, we’ve got a shot, especially in the first half. I hope our kids will build from it and take that experience into the playoffs.”
The win extends the careers of the Warriors’ seniors and gives the program a chance to bring JV players up to practice with the squad, something Davis believes will pay dividends for the future.
“It gives your kids an opportunity to play an extra week. Seniors get a chance to continue their careers,” Davis said. “You don’t want to turn in your pads yet. As coaches, you also get a chance to evaluate for next year. You get to bring some JV kids up and have them join the team in practice. We get a chanc eto determine where we need to put those players moving forward. The kids look forward to it but we as coaches do as well. The kids get to continue to play and work hard in practice, and we get to evaluate players for the future.”
The Warriors won a first-round game last season at Edisto and hope to earn at least another postseason win this year. Davis said it will be nice to play a team outside what has been a very competitive region.
“It gives us a different outlook and something to look forward to,” he said.
•(At) West Florence 31, Carolina Forest 7
| Quarterback Marquane Goodman led three second-half scoring drives to lead the Knights past the Panthers.
Carolina Forest’s Dyverse Simmons ran for 95 yards and scored from 6 yards out in the first quarter to provide the Panthers’ only points.
•(At) Latta 35, Green Sea Floyds 8
| Despite playing at less than 100 percent, Shaquawan McGill ran 28 times for 165 yards and a touchdown in the Trojans’ loss.
McGill, who pulled a hamstring last week, scored Green Sea Floyds’ lone touchdown on a 4-yard run.
•(At) Hemingway 8, Carvers Bay 6
| The Bears fell to 3-7 and 2-3 in Region VIII-A.
•Sumter 40, (at) Conway 21
| The Tigers fell to 2-8 and 1-3 in Region VI-AAAA.
The Florence Morning News contributed to this report.