Week 9 Preview & Picks: Sharks seek Chiefs’ mojo

Just call it “A Tale of Two Football Towns” when North Myrtle Beach travels to St. James on Friday. It’s the best of football times in Little River, and the worst of football times in Murrells Inlet.

When the Chiefs and Sharks stare across the line of scrimmage from one another, they can identify with the opposition. The Sharks (2-6) want to be where the Chiefs (7-1) are, and the North Myrtle Beach players can feel their pain.

The Chiefs are trying to be the second team in school history to start 8-1. They can tie the 1982 team, but hope to surpass them since the squad from 31 years ago wound up 8-2. It’s a dramatic turnaround for a team that is on the heels of a 22-game winning streak just two seasons ago.

Coach Perry Woolbright went 0-10 in his first two seasons with the Chiefs, a double-bagel start that felt like an eternity before finally turning the corner last season with a 5-5 record. This year’s team has far exceeded expectations.

So they can sympathize with the Sharks, who have yet to claim a winning season in the school’s 11-year history. Coach Mark Fischer, who has made great strides in unifying the community and getting kids to try out for football, is hoping for a Woolbright-like turnaround for the program.

But it won’t happen Friday. The Chiefs are as talented, focused and as solid in all three phases of the game as any team in Class 3A right now, and the Sharks are a shell of the team that started the season with high hopes. … North Myrtle Beach 34, St. James 13.

* Georgetown at Myrtle Beach: Georgetown opened the season with an “upset” of Conway and looked like the dark horse of the Region 7-3A race. Now it looks like it’s time to put the Bulldogs out to pasture.

A slew of injuries has Georgetown fading by the week, while Myrtle Beach seems to be getting stronger each week. Seahawks quarterback Drayton Arnold threw four touchdown passes last week, taking some of the burden off the shoulders of running back Brandon Sinclair. … Myrtle Beach 41, Georgetown 7.

* Socastee at Wilson: First-year Braves coach Doug Illing is already wisely starting to pull his starters at halftime of games like these.

Socastee backup QB Jordan Hodge is getting some quality time in relief of Hunter Renfrow, depth that could pay off in the playoffs. Oh, that’s what this is for the Braves – a playoff tuneup. … Socastee 44, Wilson 14.

* South Florence at Conway: The schedule just won’t cut the Tigers a break. This week, it’s undefeated South Florence visiting The Backyard, and the Tigers will have a hard time stopping the Bruins’ balanced and powerful attack. … South Florence 38, Conway 20.

* Carolina Forest at Sumter: You have to wonder about where the Panthers’ minds are at following last week’s 59-0 waxing by South Florence. A team that was leading several offensive statistical categories put a goose egg on the board against the Bruins, but bounce back a bit against the Gamecocks. … Sumter 42, Carolina Forest 24.

Photo courtesy of  Louis E. Keiner and Lesley M. Etherson

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