Gage Conner grew up amid the spectacle of Loris football.
Not only did his father play middle linebacker and right guard for the Lions, but Conner’s family has also run Shorty’s Grill for 40 years. There the Lions are a frequent topic of conversation, particularly on Fridays in the fall.
Now that Conner is quarterbacking the team, he’s part of the discussion, too.
“It’s just a cool feeling,” he said.
This will be Conner’s third straight season playing quarterback at Loris and his second as the starter.
“He loves Loris football,” said Lions coach Jamie Snider. “He’s all about building a bond on the team. … He told me his big goal as a senior was to make a close team and a tight team.”
Long a student of the game — he started playing at age 6 — Conner said he’s improved as a passer in recent years, learning how to read defenses and hit his receivers. He describes himself in modest terms.
“I’m pretty well rounded,” he said. “I can throw. I can run a little bit. Pretty smart. … Not many strengths and not many weaknesses.”
But Conner’s teammates will need that steady hand this season. The Lions are coming off a 4-6 season (3-2 region) and are hoping for a stronger year. Conner knows it won’t be easy.
“We’ve got a pretty tough region,” he said. “It’s just all about if you’re ready to play on Friday nights. If you come ready to play, it’ll be a good outcome. If not, you just suck it up.”
Conner’s talent was on display during his team’s game against Cheraw last October. Tied in the waning seconds, he found receiver Tykwon Wallingford on a 17-yard seam route to win the game 36-28. He hopes for more moments like that this year.
“I love playing it, but I also love the people I play with,” he said. “Just being able to create a bond for a lifetime with people you go to school with [and] play with them on Friday nights, I just enjoy it.”