First-year football coaches facing tough opening tests

nmbfoot-hardin2Officially, it’s called Week Zero. But for the three new high school football coaches on the Grand Strand, it must feel more like hell week.

Carolina Forest’s Marc Morris, North Myrtle Beach’s Blair Hardin and St. James’ Robby Brown will be making their debuts at their respective schools Friday night, and all three are being thrown to the fire in one of the toughest opening weeks in recent history.

No team is feeling the heat like North Myrtle Beach, which travels to two-time defending Class AA state champion Dillon. The Chiefs, who are coming off a 9-3 record and their deepest-ever playoff run to the Class AAA state quarterfinals, will have their hands full with the Wildcats.

Also facing a tough opening test in Week 0 is St. James, which once again faces Loris in the season opener. The Sharks put up a good fight against the Lions in last year’s opener, allowing 13 unanswered points in the second half in a 13-10 defeat. The Lions went on to the third round of the Class AA state tournament.

And Carolina Forest, which is coming off a disappointing 1-10 mark, welcomes a tough Darlington squad to town. The Panthers are hoping to have senior quarterback Will Brunson in the lineup after he appeared to re-injure his right hand in Friday night’s CNB Kickoff Classic matchup with Conway.

In other action, second-year Socastee coach Doug Illing is in for a much tougher opener this year with a trip over the border to Weat Brunswick (NC). Last year the Braves faced Carolina Forest, but Socastee’s move up to Class AAAA put them in the same region as the Panthers. This year they meet on Oct. 10.

Meanwhile, Conway faces a rematch with a Georgetown team that stunned the Tigers in last year’s opener. Conway went on to a woeful 2-9 finish and needs to get off to a good start in 2014 to avoid another losing season.

Myrtle Beach has a bye in Week 0 and opens the season at home on Thursday, Aug. 28 against visiting West Brunswick. Christian Academy makes its SCISA 11-man football debut at Dillon Christian on Friday, Aug. 29.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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