Going into Friday’s matchup with Conway, North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel wasn’t satisfied with his team’s week of preparation and wasn’t sure what kind of effort he would see on the field.
Flash forward to 9:20 p.m. on Friday and the smile on his face couldn’t express all of the joy he felt from his team’s dominating 24-7 win over Conway, as it piled up 224 rushing yards behind a confident and productive first-time starting quarterback in Ramsey Lewis.
“I’m as proud right now as I have been … I’m so proud of our kids right now, it’s unbelievable,” Reel said. “I’ve got great coaches and they do a tremendous job. When we go back and watch film, there will be mistakes, but we’re going to see tremendous effort and execution and that’s why we won the football game tonight.”
Reel’s challenge was heard loud and clear by offensive lineman Alex McGillicuddy, who took it as a personal mission to put up a good showing against a talented Conway defensive line, which includes the likes of South Carolina commit Tonka Hemingway as well as uber-talented players like Tate Finklea, Andy Jordan and Tim Shelton.
“We took this week as a challenge for us as a position group,” McGillicuddy said. “We know that Conway’s defense gets a lot of hype and that we were just supposed to fold up. We came out and did what we had to do to win the game. Those guys (on the line) are my brothers.”
In a battle of two first-time starting quarterbacks, Conway’s Carlton Terry II struck first, hitting on a huge 69-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Kinlaw to close out the first quarter. But, Terry II’s night would break down into frustration, as the North Myrtle Beach defense did its part to force some sophomore mistakes from the quarterback.
“Our offense struggled a lot tonight,” said Carlton Terry, Conway’s head coach. “A lot of times it was one player out of sorts here or we couldn’t extend a drive with a first down or big play. Hats off to North Myrtle Beach for doing a good job of coming in ready to play. They did a good job of executing.”
For his first performance as a quarterback, Lewis piloted the North Myrtle Beach offense to perfection, making quick decisions on zone reads, getting the ball out quickly on passing plays, and taking what the defense offered him in the running game.
“I expect (grit from Ramsey), that’s what I get from him since he was a freshman,” Reel said. “(He did a good job) running our stuff, being consistent and not taking the home run ball. Being the guy that ran what we needed to run, (was) consistent and trusted everybody. That’s what we’re going to need.”
A Week 0 result doesn’t define either team’s season, each team made the playoffs last season with the same losing result in their opening matchup, but it does a lot for confidence moving forward.
“We can’t dwell on this loss. It’s one game,” Terry said for Conway. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get the guys focused and ready for next week.”
In the North Myrtle Beach locker room, there’s more room for optimism at this point.
“I’m really happy with the effort our guys played with tonight. If you can have success against those guys, you should have confidence going into next week,” Reel said. “That’s not a knock on Loris, Coach Snider does a great job, but playing those big cats and their size was a tremendous test.”
Conway will hold its home opener next week as Nation Ford comes to town for a 7:05 p.m. kickoff. North Myrtle Beach will play at Loris at 7:30 p.m.
CON – 7 0 0 0 - 7
NMB – 0 10 7 7 - 24
CON – Carlton Terry II 69-yard pass to Xavier Kinlaw (Christopher DeWitt kick good) 00:00
NMB – Ramsey Lewis 4-yard run (Zane Smith kick good) 6:21
NMB – Smith 23-yard field goal 00:00
NMB – Lewis 8-yard run (Smith kick) 2:24
NMB – Elijah Vereen 15-yard run (Smith kick) 1:29
CON – Carlton Terry II – 4-12-90-1-0
NMB – Ramsey Lewis – 8-13-72-0-0
CON – Xavier Kinlaw – 9-36
NMB – Ramsey Lewis – 23-125 2TD
CON – Xavier Kinlaw – 2-77 TD
NMB – Malik Livingston – 5-46