Can Conway regain the Bell? NMB braces for Panthers

Last year’s Battle for the Victory Bell was somewhat anticlimactic since both teams were without their starting quarterbacks – Myrtle Beach’s Everett Golson and Conway’s Mykal Moody – due to injuries.

But this year the two teams will feature all three QBs – Moody, the Tigers’ duel-threat performer, and the Seahawks’ two-headed QB monster of Tyler Keane and C.J. Cooper.

While most expected the quarterback battle to be settled by midseason, Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson continues to rotate the two on every play. Forget about going with the hot hand since both seem to have one.

Cooper has a slight edge, completing 33-of-57 passes for 432 yards and seven touchdowns, while Keane is close behind at 31-of-65 for 391 yards and five TDs. It’s taking two QBs to fill the shoes of Golson, now at Notre Dame, but the system seems to be working for the Seahawks.

The Tigers, meanwhile, have two QBs in one in Moody, who has thrown for 64-of-108 for 794 yards and nine TDs and rushed 89 times or 556 yards for 10 scores.

But for all the offensive production of the three QBs, this one could come down to defense. Myrtle Beach has a fast, athletic defense that surrendered a season-high in yardage and points in last week’s 31-24 win over South Florence.

The Tigers defense has shown improvement throughout the season, shutting down Marlboro County in last week’s 48-13 win, but the Tigers have yet to face the kind of firepower Myrtle Beach can muster. Look for the Seahawks to make it a record fifth straight win in the Victory Bell series. … Myrtle Beach 27, Conway 17.

* North Myrtle Beach at Carolina Forest: The Panthers are piling up the points against non-conference foes this season thanks to their 1-2 punch of running back Harold Atkinson and QB Danny Daly. Atkinson is averaging about 10 yards per carry, rushing 71 times for 769 yards and eight TDs, while Daly is poised to break the 1,000-yard mark Friday night, going 48-of-80 for 993 yards and 15 TDs so far this season. The Panthers can run over you or pass over you, and the winless Chiefs are susceptible to both. Although the defense has been a bright spot at times this season, North Myrtle Beach won’t be able to keep pace with the Panthers’ points machine. … Carolina Forest 28, North Myrtle Beach 13.

* St. James vs. Scotts Branch: The Sharks’ best chance at victory before opening region play couldn’t have come at a worse time.  St. James lost their top two QBs on consecutive plays in last week’s 31-6 defeat to Hemingway so look for some single-wing snaps to go directly to running back Gregg Johnsen on Friday. This is the Sharks’ best chance at a victory against 1-3 Scotts Branch … St. James 14, Scotts Branch 13.

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