Kickoff Countdown: Tigers have skill to fill roles, holes

Next man up. It’s not only a philosophy the Conway High football team must embrace on the field this season, but also possibly on the sideline.

With the loss of four-year starting quarterback Peyton Derrick, and with the ongoing suspension of longtime head coach Chuck Jordan, Conway’s season seems to hinge on how well the Tigers handle the on-the-field transition and off-the-field issue.

The good news: If any team seems well equipped to deal with the key losses, it’s Conway. While Jordan has roamed the sidelines for the Tigers for 35 years, he also assembled an experience staff with deep ties to the program and community.

“We just keep the focus on the field,” said interim coach Carlton Terry, who a Conway alum who has served as an assistant for the Tigers for 25 years. “Because of all the coaches that have been here for so long, it has helped.”

The greater challenge on the gridiron is replacing Derrick, a freshman at Appalachian State who left Conway with virtually every school passing record to his credit. Senior Darren Grainger has waited his turn and is ready to fill the role.

Grainger has plenty of weapons at his disposal, including running back Daiquawn Clark and receivers Juwon Moody and Pooh Brantley – all seniors. The Tigers are also talented and experienced on the offensive line, led by seniors Gunner Britton and Raiqwon O’Neal.

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound O’Neal will play double duty on a tough Conway defense. He and sophomore Tonka Hemingway look to spearhead a solid front. Senior linebacker Jaylen Moody and a seasoned secondary give the Tigers reason for optimism despite the challenges.

Another obstacle for Conway is a tough non-conference schedule that includes four out of five games on the road to start the season. The Tigers visit Georgetown, Wando and Wilson before finally facing their home opener against Hartsville (Sept. 8). The Battle of the Victory Bell takes place at Myrtle Beach (Sept. 21) before the Region 6-5A slate.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

CONWAY TIGERS SCHEDULE
Aug. 18 at Georgetown
Aug. 25 at Wando
Sept. 1 at Wilson
Sept. 8 Hartsville
Sept. 21 at Myrtle Beach
Sept. 28 West Florence
Oct. 6 at Socastee
Oct. 13 South Florence
Oct. 20 at Sumter
Oct. 27 Carolina Forest

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