Cason McClendon will have a hard time topping his 16th birthday.
That night marked his first start as quarterback for the North Myrtle Beach Chiefs. And he gave himself plenty of presents. McClendon threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more against Marlboro County in a 35-14 win.
That big game proved to be a sign of things to come. McClendon is 16-2 as a starter, and his only losses have come in third-round playoff games.
“The thing about Cason is he’s very even keeled,” Chiefs coach Matt Reel said. “He might throw an 80-yard touchdown pass and he just kind of jogs off the field, daps everybody up. … He may turn it over and it’s the same emotion. So it’s never too high or too low … He just orchestrates what we do very well.”
McClendon is coming off a season in which the Chiefs did not lose a game until the third round of the playoffs. And while the team lost some talented seniors to graduation, he’s upbeat about the underclassmen moving into those roles.
“They’re really, really good,” he said.
During his high school career, McClendon said he’s learned to become more vocal and accept a leadership role. He’s also adjusted to the speed of the game, getting faster over time. He sees his decisiveness as his greatest strength and he’d like to use that skill at the college level. But for his senior year he just wants to enjoy himself.
“I want to have as much fun as I can,” he said, “and also win a lot of football games.”