New faces, familiar funning set stage for Kickoff Classic

With apologies to Conway National Bank, the “CNB” Kickoff Classic takes on a new meaning this year – “Coaching New Blood.”

That theme was on full display at Tuesday’s press conference and preview of the 28th Annual CNB Kickoff Classic, set for Aug. 11 at Conway High. Of the 10 high school head coaches at the head table, half were not sitting there at this time last season.

North Myrtle Beach’s Matt Reel, St. James’ Joey Price, Green Sea Floyds’ Donnie Kiefer, and Waccamaw’s Shane Fidler made their debuts at the annual luncheon, and longtime Conway assistant Carlton Terry is filing the interim head coaching role pending the Horry County School Board’s decision about Chuck Jordan’s job status.

But the new faces didn’t prevent the long-standing tradition of good-natured ribbing among the coaches, a role that was previously perfected by the 35-year veteran Jordan. His absence put a bit of a damper on the proceedings, but not for a lack of comedic relief by the coaches.

Carrying the torch this time, and the first to speak alphabetically, Aynor coach Jenerette kicked things off by taunting Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson for tacking on a late touchdown in last year’s exhibition. He even referred to Wilson’s team as “Myrtle Beach football, brought to you by Channel 15” – a reference to the Seahawks’ four Thursday night TV appearances on CW 21.

Carolina Forest coach Marc Morris was also a target that showed the recent turnover rate. “Morris has only been here three years and he already looks like ‘The Godfather’,” Jenerette quipped. Morris was next to the mic and nailed it. “One of the hardest things I have to do every year is following Jody Jenerette,” he said.

Terry, a Conway alum who has been an assistant with the Tigers for 25 years, might have been new to the press conference setting but he spoke like a seasoned pro in downplaying his team’s expectations. Despite having no fewer than five Division I athletes on the roster, Terry opened with a page from the Lou Holtz playbook. “We’re terrible,” he deadpanned.

Others were less subtle in summing up their preseason prospects. Price, who inherit a struggling St. James program that went winless last season, talked about the hard work his players have ahead of them to turn things around. “When you get a new coach you get some kids come out or the first time … then you start running sprints and they see how much work it is and they say ‘Coach, I don’t think football is for me. I’m going to play the guitar.'”

Now the teams only have three days to prepare for their first dress rehearsal at the CNB Kickoff Classic. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. and tickets are available at the gate and at all CNB branches.

Photo by Tyler Watkins

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