Week 4 Previews & Picks: Rules play roles in rivalries

mbfoot-22tdrefRules, like records, are made to be broken. Those pesky little ground rules designed to level the playing field have become a hot topic ever since Tom Brady taught all of us more than we ever thought we would know about improper football inflation. But unlike the NFL, high school players don’t have a union.

The Week 4 schedule includes a rematch of Myrtle Beach’s forfeit to Carolina Forest for using an ineligible player, Socastee coach Doug Illing serving a one-game suspension that bars him from attending his team’s game at North Myrtle Beach, and Conway visiting one of the most litigious venues in the state. But the rules are the rules, and the rest if just guesswork. Here are this week’s picks:

* Carolina Forest at Myrtle Beach: The once high-flying Seahawks have resorted to the ground-and-pound while waiting for the passing game to come around, and why not? With Brandon Sinclair racking up 289 rushing yards and five TDs last week, the run is safer and more effective than flying the unfriendly skies.

That might not be so easy against Carolina Forest’s defense, which gets the nod for most improved unit over the first month of the season. Last week’s loss to North Myrtle Beach wasn’t the defense’s fault as the Panthers offense was shut out in the second half.

This rivalry has finally grown some interest and intensity in recent years. After Myrtle Beach outscored Carolina Forest 246-16 over a five-year span, the Panthers won 41-34 in 2013 and the Seahawks’ 52-35 win was overturned last year. This should be another tight one. … Myrtle Beach 31, Carolina Forest 27.

* Socastee at North Myrtle Beach: Watching a kid named Sinclair running around his father’s old stomping grounds at The Reservation last week wasn’t the only throwback to the mid-1990s. The ejection of Illing brought back another blast from the past.

The details are a little fuzzy and I won’t name names since the statute of limitations may still be in play, but another Braves coach from the same era got busted violating a one-game ban by watching the game from the roof of the school. Illing won’t have that luxury at NMB, and the Chiefs are gaining confidence with a three-game winning streak. Make that four. … North Myrtle Beach 28, Socastee 16.

* Conway at Marlboro County: The Tigers (3-1) are still licking their wounds from last week’s loss to Hartsville, but the competition doesn’t get any easier this week against the Bulldogs, especially playing in Bennettsville. It’s almost as hard to get out of that town with win as it is to get out of there without a traffic ticket. … and the local police aren’t the only “officials” looking for violations.

Over the years Conway and Marlboro County has developed into a real rivalry, way before their state championship thriller in 2001. Bulldogs and future Gamecocks QB Syvelle Newton threw a game-winning TD pass in the final seconds to win that. This time it’s highly recruited QB London Johnson the Tigers must stop or try to keep pace with. … Marlboro County 27, Conway 20.

* St. James at Hannah-Pamplico: The Sharks (1-2) can’t be too overconfident against the winless Raiders, who are coming off a narrow loss to a solid Hemingway team. But St. James is coming off a bye week to rest and recover from some injuries and should TCOB in H-P. … St. James 31, H-P 13.

* Christian Academy at Lee Academy: The Saints (0-3) can’t seem to catch a break on a brutal schedule that includes another matchup with a SCISA power. The first win of the season won’t come on the road in Bishopville tonight, but it is coming. … Lee Academy 38, CAMB 14.

Last week 4-1, overall 16-5

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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