Week 0 Picks & Previews: Local teams on upset alert

confoot-40Week 0 couldn’t come soon enough for high school, football fans, and five Grand Strand teams are getting started early in Friday’s unofficial opening night of the season.

Playing in Week 0 does have some value. It gives participating teams a bye week they can use before the kickoff of the all-important region campaign. But those teams have one less week to prepare for the season opener, and early-year mistakes can prove costly.

Of course, both teams have the same time frame to prepare, but it does level the playing field a bit so that upsets are more likely to happen in Week 0. Depth is less of a concern since both teams are fresh, and an out-of-synch game can go either way.

With that in mind, five local teams enter the regular season looking either to avoid the upset bug, or to be the upset bug. Only defending state champion Myrtle Beach chose to take the week off. They are the only team safe from starting the season with a loss:

* North Myrtle Beach at Dillon: Expect big things from the Chiefs this year. Despite the offseason coaching change and the loss of some key pieces, North Myrtle Beach still has the hosses to make a deep playoff run and first-year coach Blair Hardin can get them there.

With that said, a trip to state power Dillon to open the season is about as imposing as a schedule gets. Coming off back-to-back Class 2A titles, the Wildcats rarely get beat in their own back yard. The Chiefs come close. … Dillon 27, NMB 24.

* Socastee at West Brunswick (NC): The Braves cross the Carolina border to battle the Vikings and unveil the updated version of their triple-option attack. Jordan Hodge steps in at QB to try to get the offense off the ground, and West Brunswick provides the perfect tune-up. … Socastee 41, West Brunswick 14.

* Georgetown at Conway: The Tigers found out just how dangerous playing in Week 0 can be  last season against these same Bulldogs, who pulled what seemed like an upset at the time. Conway went on to a 2-9 season, but you have to wonder if things could have been different without that season-opening blemish. The Tigers won’t be fooled again. … Conway 24, Georgetown 20.

* Darlington at Carolina Forest: It’s going to take time to rebuild a Panthers’ program that hit rock bottom in 2013, but until first-year coach Marc Morris can plug the holes in a defense that sprang a leak last season, Carolina Forest fans can expect more of the same. … Darlington 34, Carolina Forest 17.

* St. James at Loris: The Sharks have had close calls with the Lions the last two years, losing by scores of 9-8 and 13-10. A win would set a new tone to start St. James’ season but Loris seems to have the mental edge. … Loris 20, St. James 13.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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