Athlete of the Week: Braves off to hot start with Lazaroff

The Socastee High football team is off to its first 5-0 start since 1998, when current Braves running back Tommy Lazaroff was only 4 years old.

No one could have guessed then that the future hockey player from New York would someday be a football player for a program hundreds of miles away and hungry for success. But no one is happier to be a part of it than Lazaroff.

“It feels great (to be 5-0),” said Lazaroff, the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his two-touchdown performances in the Braves’ last two wins over rival Conway and Lake View.

“People come up to you and congratulate you, and we had more fans come to our game two hours away in Lake View last week than they had. Everybody on the school and community have been really supportive.”

And for good reason. The Socastee football program has struggled in recent years, recently snapping a 13-game losing streak to Conway. Lazaroff is proud to be part of the senior class that is changing the losing tradition.

“I moved here in the fourth grade and decided to start playing football, and I fell in love with,” he said. “A lot of these guys I’ve played with since rec league and we’ve always wanted to be the ones to turn things around.”

Lazaroff said the Braves’ momentum actually began before the season during summer workouts, when they could sense a new attitude on the team. He proved prophetic when Socastee knocked off opponent after opponent to start the season.

“I think during halftime of the Conway game was when it really started to happen,” he said. “We went to the locker room and had all the momentum. We were all like, ‘Come on, guys. We can do this,’ and we went out and did it.

Lazaroff scored a pair of touchdowns in that win and added two more last week, giving him an impressive 274 yards and four TDs on 27 carries. He credits his teammates for his 10 yard-per-carry average.

“When you have Hunter (Renfrow) and quarterback and Daquon (Brown) at running back, teams have to key on them,” Lazaroff said. “And I can’t forget the offensive line. The triple option is really tough, but we run it every day in practice and it’s hard to stop.”

Indeed, the Braves are averaging more than 40 points per contest, and they have a week off to recover before entering Region VII-AAA play. The senior also hopes to use that time to keep his team focused on the task at hand.

“Coach told us that the last team to start 5-0 only won two more games the rest of the season. We don’t want to let that happen to us. We’re taking North Myrtle Beach very seriously and we want to take them one game at a time all the way to the state championship.”

Big plans for Lazaroff and the Braves, but he’s already proven he knows how to aim high for multiple goals.

Photo by Shannon Keevert

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