Green Sea Floyds captures first state championship

Facing fourth down and a sneaker, Green Sea Floyds coach Donnie Kiefer told his players to punt the football.

The Trojans clung to a 26-20 lead on Lamar and they were backed up on their own 15-yard line. There was 1:24 left in the fourth quarter. Logic said punt.

But his seniors pleaded with him to go for it. They could get the first, they said. They were wrong.

“I don’t think that was the best call right there, but I tried to honor those seniors by giving them an opportunity to do it,” the coach said. “And the bottom line is the defense held like I thought they could.”

Kiefer was right to trust his defense. The Trojans forced Lamar to turn the ball over on downs with 8.3 ticks left — enough time to take a knee and claim the school’s first Class 1A state title.

“It’s unbelievable,” said senior fullback Josh Slobodiak. “All these fans in the stands, our community’s on our back, it’s just remarkable.”

Those fans, who endured a winless season four years ago and had never seen the third round of the playoffs, witnessed their loyalty rewarded on Friday.

“We came a long way,” said sophomore running back Jaquan Dixon, who scored three touchdowns in the title game.

Lamar traded touchdowns with Green Sea early in the first quarter, but the Trojans pulled ahead when Dixon powered his way into the end zone for his third touchdown of the opening period.

Quarterback Bubba Elliott scampered into the end zone to put the Trojans up 26-14 with 7:32 to go in the second quarter.

Although the Green Sea offense struggled after that, the defense held, forcing punts and intercepting passes.

“They’ve been just whomping people, too,” Kiefer said of Lamar. “They usually put up a bunch of points. I thought our defense did a tremendous job.”

The Trojans appeared to have the game in hand until a late surge from the Silver Foxes. With under four minutes to go, Lamar connected on a 30-yard touchdown pass to pull within six points. Then they got the ball back with an onside kick. Three and a half minutes remained on the clock.

“Those were two bone-chilling moments right there,” Kiefer said.

Lamar drove the ball deep into Green Sea territory, but the Trojans intercepted a pass at their own 5-yard line with 2:13 left. That set up the decision to go for it on fourth down.

“Luckily, the kids were resilient and we were able to fight through that and get the win,” the coach said.

For the team — and the community — resiliency has been a theme this season.

Like all teams in Horry County, the Trojans missed a month of football when Hurricane Florence swept through.

The flood after the storm damaged some 2,000 homes, including the one belonging to Lucas McDowell’s family.

For the junior center, the football team’s magical run has been a welcome distraction.

“It’s just a lot for everybody, not just me,” he said. “We had to come back and work our tails off to get here.”

McDowell said he doesn’t know when his family will return home, but he’s not discouraged.

“It’s just perseverance,” he said. “Just like we have out here on the football field.”

– Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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