Horry County football has had so much success this season it is becoming hard to keep up with all the firsts.
Well, notch another one for the area’s teams as a whole.
In the five-plus decades of modern-era gridiron action, this fall marks the first time three teams from the district have qualified for the lower state playoffs, according to all available records. Carolina Forest (Class 5A), Myrtle Beach (4A) and Green Sea Floyds (1A) have all reached the fourth round of the postseason, with each of them preparing for their respective state semifinals on Friday.
The South Carolina High School League expanded to five classifications for the 2016 season. The last major expansion prior to that (save for some split-class championships) came in 1968, when the SCHSL added a fourth classification to its growing roster of schools in conjunction with integration.
Last fall — when eventual state champs Myrtle Beach and Green Sea Floyds each reached the lower state finals — was only the second such occurrence for Horry County Schools. The other happened in 1983. That year, Myrtle Beach went on to win the Class 3A state title while Loris fell in the semifinal.
Myrtle Beach leads the area with 16 state semifinal berths since the 1968 season. Conway is second with seven; Aynor has done it three times, most recently in 1991; Green Sea Floyds joins Loris with two appearances; Carolina Forest is doing it for the first time this year. St. James, Socastee and North Myrtle Beach have never been that far in the playoffs.
DEFENSE PAVING THE WAY
Coaches always say that defense wins championships.
That side of the ball at Carolina Forest, Myrtle Beach and Green Sea Floyds has kept those schools in the conversation.
On Friday, those three teams allowed their opponents to score 30 combined points. Each of them clamped down when it mattered most, allowing the offenses to put up points in bunches.
Myrtle Beach won 35-10, and Airport’s lone touchdown was a defensive score via a pick-six. Carolina Forest gave up 14 points overall, and one of those Goose Creek touchdowns followed a turnover that spotted Goose Creek the ball at the Panthers’ 8-yard line. And the only points scored against Green Sea Floyds came early in the third quarter, when the Trojans were already ahead by 39 points.
Those three teams are all within the Top 5 of their respective classes when it comes to opponents’ scoring in the season-long statistics kept via MaxPreps.com.
Heading into this week’s lower state championship games, Carolina Forest sits No. 5 in Class 5A in terms of points allowed per game at 13.0, with many of those points given up attributed to the 43-28 Myrtle Beach victory over the Panthers on Sept. 20.
The Seahawks’ defense has actually taken a hit in the last month, but is still the No. 4 team in the classification, allowing 15.3 points per game.
NAMES TO CONSIDER FOR HCS OPENINGS?
While most of the football focus will be about playoff runs in the coming weeks, both Socastee and Loris are going to have some decisions to make about their head coaching openings sooner rather than later.
Since neither job has been posted through the Horry County Schools’ web portals, it means the movement has been informal to this point. However, indications have been made that would assume both schools will at least conduct interviews before next year’s coach is named.
We have some ideas on people who may be a good fit for one or both of the openings in advance of the cumulative application process. None of the coaches listed have declared any intentions to apply for the openings. To be clear, this is purely speculative.
Just the same, any of the following could work their way onto the short list for the job(s) should they choose to apply.
• Adrain Grady, assistant, Loris - The motivator of Loris football already has head coaching experience in other sports (namely boys basketball right there at Loris). And since he was chosen to work on the football staff, the Coastal Carolina alum has had the ear of not only the players, but also their parents.
• Joey Price, assistant, Loris - When Price walked away from St. James after one season, he had a pretty good reason, heading into a job at a church just miles from Loris High School. It didn’t take long for the former five-time North Carolina state championship coach to re-declare his itch for the game; he joined the staff as an assistant under Jamie Snider after just one season away from football.
• Bradley Adams, head coach, Woodruff - Adams is well known locally after he put Georgetown football into contention for region championships at the same time Hunter Renfrow was leading Socastee and Myrtle Beach won a state title. He’s an excitable coach who could do wonders for a fan base looking for just that. Oh, and he’s a Loris graduate who loves bringing whatever team he’s coaching to the area for preseason camps.
• Shane Dular, assistant, Carolina Forest - Marc Morris’ right-hand man with the Panthers has been a head coach at high schools in Georgia and North Carolina. Since 2014, he’s been learning from one of the best in South Carolina. He’s ahead of the curve on technology, efficient with media connections and relatable to players.
• Kelly Andreucci, assistant, Conway - Andreucci has spent nearly all of his adult life on the Conway staff. He’s been a part of some tough years, sure, but also a whole bunch of winning leading some stout defenses that have never shied away from brutal scheduling — both during the regular season and in the playoffs.
• Donnie Kiefer, head coach, Green Sea Floyds - Kiefer, who picked up his 250th career win last week, is a spot-on pick for any rebuild job in the Carolinas. It’s just sort of what he does. Socastee and Loris would certainly qualify, even if they are both in the same district and he may have little reason to leave one of the best Class 1A programs in the state.