Carlton Terry had more than his share of distractions over the course of this offseason.
But moments before Friday night’s contest at Georgetown, the interim Conway football coach found himself in need of one.
“Hello, young man,” Terry said to a young fan decked out in Conway High garb. “You ready for the game tonight? You rooting for us tonight?.”
Admittedly, Terry had his share of jitters ahead of the Tigers’ season opener — also his first as head coach of his alma mater’s football program. However, it didn’t take long for those butterflies to diminish.
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The brilliance of senior quarterback Darren Grainger and an explosive Conway offense had a little to do with that.
In his first varsity start, Grainger completed 11 of 18 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Complemented by the tough running of Antonio Long – who had three scores on the night – the Tigers cruised to a 40-8 win over Georgetown.
“If we keep going, keep growing, keep pushing, keep working, this offense can be real dangerous,” Grainger said.
More importantly, the victory successfully — even if only for a brief few hours — took the focus off events transpiring mere hours before kickoff.
Earlier on Friday, longtime Conway head man Chuck Jordan was informed by Horry County Schools he would remain on administrative leave with pay following an on-campus incident in late May. Part of the state’s Teacher & Employee Retention Incentive (TERI) program, his contract is set to run out at the end of November.
The team has kept its words few regarding the matter, instead opting to let its play on the field do all of the talking. “We can’t play down to the competition … just keep pushing,” Grainger said.
That starts Monday for Terry, who while pleased with his team’s work this past weekend was less than happy about a certain facet for the Tigers.
“We have a lot of work to do, we had too many penalties,” he said. “But we’ll correct those mistakes, come back ready to go next week.”
AROUND THE AREA
▪ BLANKED: Last season, a veteran-laden Myrtle Beach team ambushed Byrnes en route to a 35-19 win. Guess turnabout is fair play.
With Myrtle Beach making the trip from the coast to the Upstate, the Rebels flashed some of their dominance of old Saturday night with a 51-0 blowout. The loss snaps a two-game win streak for the Seahawks over the perennial powerhouse from Duncan, and is the first time they have been shut out since Mickey Wilson took the reins in 2000.
Byrnes outgained its visitors by a count of 451-189 in total yards. Most of Myrtle Beach’s yardage came courtesy of quarterback Lawson Cribb, who was 19 of 37 for 145 yards.
▪ MAKING A STATEMENT: Few venues are more hostile to visiting teams like Marlboro County’s McAlpine Stadium.
The trip to Bennettsville didn’t phase Carvers Bay much, though, as it mulled the Bulldogs en route to a 46-28 victory. Quarterback Janaz Sumpter had three touchdowns in the game, including one in which he broke several Marlboro County attempts to bring him to the ground.
Dijon Goss, Toronto King and Tyrek Reed also had touchdowns for Carvers Bay in a winning effort.
▪ A HANDFUL … OF TOUCHDOWNS: Hunter Illing was already Socastee’s all-time leading passer. Apparently there is still plenty more for the senior quarterback to accomplish, however.
Illing completed 8 of his 13 passes on Friday night for 156 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Braves to a 34-19 win over West Brunswick (N.C.). The win snapped a two-game losing skid to the Trojans.
Complementing Illing’s work through the air was the effort of Socastee’s Dashaun Myers and Eddie Tucker on the ground, where they rushed for 93 yards and 88 yards and a touchdown, respectively.
▪ FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Aside from Conway’s Terry, four other area coaches made their respective debuts on Friday night.
Taking on a tough Timberland team, new head man Matt Reel and North Myrtle Beach escaped St. Stephen with a 14-6 win. Georgia State commit Tyler Gore had only three catches for 24 yards, but two of those grabs went for touchdowns to lift the No. 4 team in Class 4A to a victory in its season opener.
Also picking up a win in his Grand Strand debut was Donnie Kiefer, as Green Sea Floyds blanked East Columbus (N.C.) by a score of 31-0. The Trojans rattled off 334 yards of total offense on their visitors from the Tar Heel State, with quarterback Shaquan Gillard responsible for 111 yards of it and three touchdowns.
While Reel and Kiefer were victorious in their debuts, a pair of their peers were not as lucky.
A 4-yard run by quarterback Levon Stevenson with under two minutes remaining proved to be the difference for Loris on Friday night, the Lions escaping with a 22-19 win and denying new St. James head man Joey Price successful start in Murrells Inlet.
Just down U.S. 17 in Pawleys Island, Shane Fidler’s first game at Waccamaw went a bit rougher than he’d planned, falling to Andrews 54-9.
▪ BRING YOUR LUNCH PAIL: Teams coached by Jody Jenerette have come to know all about hard work. Some of that preparation came in handy Friday night for Aynor in its season opener against Marion.
Though never trailing, the Blue Jackets needed a late touchdown to finally put a game Marion squad to rest and pull off a 16-6 win.
Aynor’s defense was the story in this one, holding Marion to 142 total yards. When the Blue Jackets were in possession, Noah Seaver made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 89 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown.
QB Darren Grainger, Conway: Making his first varsity start, the Tigers senior quarterback completed 11 of his 18 attempts for 254 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-8 win over Georgetown.
RB Kendall Goodson, Loris: Rushed for 188 yards and a touchdown, along with converting a two-point conversion.
QB Hunter Illing, Socastee: Completed 8 of 13 passes for 156 yards and five touchdowns in the Braves’ 34-19 win over West Brunswick (N.C.).
RB Antonio Long, Conway: Rushed for 89 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns for the Tigers in a 40-8 win over Georgetown.
QB Janaz Sumpter, Carvers Bay: Ran for three touchdowns to lead the Bears to a road win over Marlboro County in their 2017 opener.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
0 On Friday night, Green Sea Floyds didn’t allow East Columbus (N.C.) to get on the scoreboard. The following evening, Myrtle Beach found it just as difficult to do so against Byrnes, being held scoreless for the first time under head coach Mickey Wilson.
THEY SAID IT
“Offensively it was just a comedy of errors. Bad snaps, dumb fumbles, you name it we did it tonight. We’ll see how much we’re going to improve by next week.” — Aynor football coach Jody Jenerette following his team’s 16-6 win over Marion.
WEEK 2 SCHEDULE
Aynor at Andrew Jackson
Carvers Day at Georgetown
Conway at Wando
North Brunswick (N.C.) at Socastee
North Myrtle Beach at Loris
Providence Day (N.C.) at Carolina Forest
Waccamaw at St. James