Braves top Grand Strand Super 7 Preseason Poll

The 2013 high school football season kicks off Friday on the Grand Strand, and competition locally appears to be tighter than ever.

With traditional powers Conway and Myrtle Beach entering rebuilding seasons and up-and-comers Carolina Forest, North Myrtle Beach and St. James on the rise, expect a lot of jostling in this year’s Grand Strand Sports Report poll. But there’s only one obvious No. 1 entering the season:

1. Socastee: The Braves are coming off their best season in school history and have a lot of their horses back to make another charge at the Class 3A state title, especially reigning Region 7-3A Player of the Year Hunter Renfrow. The Braves can go as far as the senior quarterback can carry them. (Friday vs. Carolina Forest at Socastee)

2. Myrtle Beach: Yes, the Seahawks lots 15 starters and many of their primary offensive weapons, but this is Myrtle Beach. The Seahawks tend to reload rather than rebuild and they hope that’s the case with sophomore QB Drayton Arnold and a cast of newcomers. The defense could be the big issue in 2013. (Aug. 30 vs Richmond County in Surf-and-Turf Kickoff Classic)

3. North Myrtle Beach: Surprised to see the Chiefs ranked so high? Don’t be shocked if they climb even higher before season’s end. With a slew of senior starters back from last year’s surprising campaign, NMB has a chance to make some noise behind LB Laquinn Bellamy and RB Delonzo Williams. (Friday vs. Waccamaw at NMB)

4. Conway: The Tigers have to grow up in a hurry to avoid another losing season, but this is Conway. Coach Chuck Jordan is an old pro at turning young teams into contenders by the end of the year. If the defense can come along, junior QB Ethan Smith and WR Bryan Edwards could keep the Tigers in the hunt. (Friday at Georgetown)

5. Carolina Forest: The Panthers also appear ready to reverse last year’s losing record thanks to a lethal offense and improving D. Junior QB Will Brunson has a rifle for an arm and plenty of targets to choose from – TE Ryan Yurachek and WRs Zavier Jones and Kyle Belack. The defense has to keep get better. (Friday at Socastee)

6. St. James: It’s s shame to list the Sharks sixth since they too should be much improved in 2013. Coach Mark Fischer has worked a couple of miracles in his short time in the school by beating cancer and getting a record number of players out for football. St. James now has the talent and depth to compete. (Friday vs. Loris at St. James)

7. Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach: The Saints hit the gridiron for the first time this season, playing in the SCISA Class A eight-man division for starters. CAMB has a roster filled with first-time football players so don’t expect too much in 2013 except for the Saints to lay a solid foundation for the future. (Friday vs. James Island at Ashley Booth Field)

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