High School Football

What makes Friday’s clash between star area high school QBs Doty and Garcia so special

The quarterback gets all of the praise when his team wins and a lot of grief when his team loses.

A position called by some the most important and difficult to play in all of sports, the signal caller has a major impact on the outcome of any football game.

Boy, do we have a good matchup as Myrtle Beach heads to Carolina Forest on Friday, with each team boasting a top-level quarterback already committed to play at the next level.

Myrtle Beach’s Luke Doty has achieved his status as the Grand Strand’s best by simply winning.

Sure, he was already committed to the University of South Carolina before taking a snap as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback and had a four-star rating placed on him in advance of a magical junior season.

But his play on the field last season made all of the preseason hype seem muted, as he accounted for more than 3,700 yards of offense and 43 touchdowns on the campaign.

Throw in a state championship, for good measure, and you’ve got the resume of an elite player at the quarterback position.

Mason Garcia, Carolina Forest’s signal caller, has helped continue the rise of the Panthers program during his time in the backfield. His team has had playoff success and moved from a doormat to a juggernaut, knocking off traditional powers like Lexington and Conway to earn gridiron respect.

Carolina Forest senior quarterback Mason Garcia takes a breather during football practice at Carolina Forest High School Friday afternoon. Josh Bell jbell@thesunnews.com

Garcia turned in a strong junior season, accounting for more than 2,100 yards and 27 touchdowns, leading to recruiting buzz for the 6-foot-4 pro-style quarterback. After more than a dozen offers and visits across the country, the four-star recruit settled on East Carolina University.

With the two senior quarterbacks in complete command of their teams, the expectation is for a Big 12-style shootout.

A recruiting coordinator and assistant coach for a university in the southeast broke down the two players for The Sun News. The name of the coach could not be used due to NCAA recruiting regulations.

“Doty is a guy that really does what you need done within the context of the game,” the coach said. “He can throw it with accuracy, he can run it, and he really doesn’t force the action to put the ball in (many) bad situations. The main thing you wonder with him is with all the running he did (at the end of last season) can his body withstand the hits. I think he showed that he can, but his coaches might have to protect him from himself in those situations.”

As for Garcia, the coach said he’s a puzzling figure because he has immense talent but has not put a complete game on film yet.

“Oh he flashes some really great qualities,” the coach said. “He’s one of those kids that, as a coach, will frustrate you if you are coaching him or against him… He will show you exactly what you want to see, he will make the right read and put the ball where it needs to be more often than not, but he knows he has a big arm and tries to show it from time to time.

“There were some points last year where he put the ball in harm’s way and it hurt his team. Then there are some moments, like in the playoff game (against Lexington) at CCU where he played absolutely brilliant but had some … we’ll call them ultra-competitive moments where he could have been flagged for talking (smack) to the opposition. That’s where, as a coach, you kind of shake your head.”

When comparing the two, the college level coach said there are merits to both players, but that their differences make them unique.

“I think the Myrtle Beach quarterback is perfect for the system that they run and Garcia is exactly what (Carolina Forest) needs from that position,” the coach said. “Getting quarterback play at the level that these two guys play at in the high school ranks is really impressive.

“I recruit all over the southeast and you really can’t find too many players who are better than these two guys. Garcia has a huge arm, potentially a pro-level arm; and Doty is an absolute gamer who has all of the tools to be great at the next level. I would take either of them in my program.”

Tonight, we will get to see who can take on the pressure of an early-season big game and rise to the occasion.

Week 4 Schedule

Green Sea Floyds at Aynor

Myrtle Beach at Carolina Forest

Socastee at North Myrtle Beach

St. James at Georgetown

Waccamaw at North Charleston

Bye: Conway, Loris

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