Athlete of the Week: NMB’s Bellamy sparks turnaround

North Myrtle Beach senior Laquinn Bellamy has had a big impact on both sides of the ball in leading the Chiefs to their first 3-0 start since 1997.

But don’t get it twisted: The linebacker/running back is a defensive player, first and foremost. He just wants every opportunity to help his team win.

“I’m a defensive player at heart,” said Bellamy, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week after leading the Chiefs to an impressive start. “I love the contact and it gives me a chance to make plays.”

Does it ever. Not only does Bellamy lead the team in tackles with 32, nine of them for losses and two sacks, but he’s managed to turn his defensive desire into instant offense. He already has an interception return for a touchdown and a tackle for a safety to go with an offensive TD.

Bellamy also finds time to spare Delonzo Williams at fullback and he’s as hard to bring down with the ball as he is hard to avoid when he’s on defense. But most of all, he’s a leader that has helped turn around North Myrtle Beach’s program.

“Laquinn is a four-year starter for us and he is a two-year team captain,” North Myrtle Beach coach Perry Woolbright said. “He is a leader for us on the field and a leader for us off the field on how you’re supposed to act and represent the team.”

As a freshman and sophomore, Bellamy and his teammates never won a game – a streak of 22 straight defeats. As a junior, Bellamy moved to both sides of the ball and, coincidence or not, the Chiefs have started winning.

“I hadn’t played running back since B team but I wanted to do whatever I could to help my team get a win,” Bellamy said. “It was tough but we just had to grind through it. It’s nice to finally see all that hard work paying off.”

The Chiefs snapped the streak in last year’s season opener and got off to a 4-1 start before injuries hampered the team late in the year. Bellamy still points to last year’s streak-snapper as the time the Chiefs turned the corner.

“That Waccamaw game was huge for us,” Bellamy said. “We had lost so many close games and for us to finally put it together and come out with a win gave us a lot of confidence that just keeps carrying over.”

Now the Chiefs are healthy and off to a strong start with wins over Waccamaw, Loris and West Brunswick (NC). They are allowing fewer than 7 points per contest (NMB’s opponents have scored 20, Bellamy has single-handedly accounted for 16) and get a bye week before facing Mullins next week.

“Our defense has really stepped up,” Bellamy said. “We just go out and try to execute and keep the other team from scoring. We can’t lose if they don’t score, so we go out every time looking for a shutout.”

Spoken like a true defensive player.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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