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"Football's been played a long time," Aynor Coach Jason Allen said. "You just strap them on and do your job. We'll be fine." Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

When Aynor put on the after burners and ran away from Marion last Friday, it was a full display of the Blue Jackets’ offensive capabilities.

They ran for 432 yards and seven touchdowns and piled up 546 total yards of offense. And 51 points later, they had their fifth double-digit victory and a 2-0 start in region play.

The game also equated to some heavy historical perspective.

For the first time in at least three decades, Aynor is 6-0.

“The biggest difference is that our kids believe now,” head coach Jason Allen said. “There are no limitations in their minds as to what they can do. You have to dream big first.”

Convincing the players to do just that hasn’t been easy, and Allen understands it first hand. The 1997 Aynor graduate spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach before taking over the program prior to last season.

Since he started at the high school as a freshman in 1993, the Blue Jackets have had 20 losing seasons (out of 26) and fast starts were as uncommon as they come. So the unblemished record midway through October is something to celebrate.

Also consider that Aynor could have easily been 7-0 had a previously scheduled game against Creek Bridge not been cancelled when that school closed after last spring. Why is that seven-win figure important?

Because actually reaching the plateau to start 2019 means getting through the Region VI and Class 3A powerhouse Dillon. The two teams will face off at Aynor on Friday in the MyHorryNews.com Game of the Week.

The Wildcats are also unbeaten at 6-0, have averaged 42 points per game (one less than the Blue Jackets) and haven’t had a single game determined by fewer than 11 points.

Unlike Aynor, these types of results are what Dillon is accustomed to. Jackie Hayes’ team has started 6-0 seven times in the last 11 years and has just as many state championships in that time frame.

The task is a tall one, and Allen isn’t shying away from it.

“I won’t stand in front of the kids and tell them something can’t be done,” he said. “Our goal is to get this game into the fourth quarter where our conditioning takes over. But they still have to go play Dillon. You have to survive what they do [early].”

Given the Blue Jackets’ production so far this season, not to mention their newfound mental state, Allen believes this team is better prepared “survive” the onslaught. And possibly do even more.

WRITING ON THE WALL?

North Myrtle Beach’s woes against Wilson were evident before the end of the first quarter in last week’s loss, the first of the season for the Chiefs.

To coach Matt Reel, there were signs even before that.

“We had a terrible week of preparation. Terrible. It was not a good week,” Reel said. “That was the first one we had all year. I don’t know why that is. Everything had been pretty consistent up to this point. It just wasn’t our normal week.”

The Tigers left Little River with a 43-21 win in tow, and North Myrtle Beach was left to lick its wounds while attempting to find a way to rebound. The Chiefs have little choice.

After facing winless Darlington this Friday, Reel’s squad will have to wrap up the region slate with games at Hartsville and then at home against Myrtle Beach. If the Chiefs do not win out, they are almost assuredly going to have to hit the road in the opening round of the playoffs and then need a bit of help to get a second-round home game — if they make it that far.

With that type of positioning in mind, Reel said mixing things up for practice this week could be in the cards.

“Not that we’re going to change our philosophy, but maybe it’s too monotonous,” he said. “Maybe we’re getting into too much of a habit of how we’re doing practices.” 

AROUND THE AREA

Conway’s last victory put the Tigers in rarified air. Carlton Terry’s team (2-4 overall) is one of just two teams in the entire state in any classification to lose all of its non-region games before winning it’s first two region games. Seneca (Region 1-3A) also accomplished that feat, and three Class 1A programs (McBee, Charleston Math & Science and Hemingway) could each do it beginning with their own region play, which commences this week. … Myrtle Beach and Aynor are both 6-0, and they are among the last 21 teams in the state to remain undefeated heading into this week’s games. … St. James tailback Malachi Butler has reached workhorse status. Through seven games, the senior has averaged more than 17 carries a game and has 124 total. Both of those figures are tops in the area. … Green Sea Floyds’ three-head rushing monster of Jaquan Dixon, Bubba Elliott and Anwain Graham are each averaging better than 10 yards per carry so far this year.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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