Knights knock off Sharks following monthlong wait

The last time Tommy Norwood spoke after one of his team’s games, he mentioned that St. James had made dramatic improvement from the previous contest. On Monday, Norwood struggled to do it again.

In their first game in 31 days after Hurricane Florence and the aftereffects of mass flooding in the area, the Sharks were dismantled in their return, falling 55-21 to West Florence. As it turned out, returning to the field and immediately facing the Knights – a team with realistic hopes of a Region 6-5A title – was too much to ask for a team that has now lost all four of its game by double digits.

“This for us is a journey, not a trip,” Norwood said. “I’m the fifth coach in 15 years. Everybody keeps saying ‘You can’t get it done at St. James.’ … Our whole thing is we gotta take baby steps and build a program.”

For much of Monday’s game, the Sharks certainly weren’t taking baby steps forward, but rather monster steps backward. There was a stark contrast between West Florence, which had missed only one game (which it has already made up) and five days of school, compared to the three weeks of classes and two outright cancelled games for St. James.

That rhythm, or lack thereof, was clearly on display early.

St. James fumbled the ball away on its second play from scrimmage, and the Knights turned it into a Cooper Wallace touchdown. Same deal on the Sharks’ second series – which then resulted in an Ailym Ford touchdown run.

Then, a blocked punt led to a West Florence field goal, and one more fumble preceded Ford’s second touchdown run of the game.

And that was just the first quarter.

“You can’t give up three fumbles and a blocked punt in the first quarter,” Norwood said. “That was [24] points. … But the whole key to it is high school football games are lost more than they are won.

“If you don’t turn it over, if you don’t make dumb penalties, fumbles, interceptions, blocked punts, you’re gonna win 99 out of 100.”

By the time St. James stopped making those mistakes against the Knights – and Deondray Stanfield put together the best game of his career – West was up 24 points and showed no signs of letting up offensively. Stanfield, the junior tailback, accounted for all three touchdowns, and all of them came from 33 yards or longer. He finished with 76 yards through the air and 65 on the ground.

It wasn’t enough to counter what Ford, Wallace and the rest of the Knights’ offense did.

Ford finished with 208 yards and four touchdowns rushing, snagged two receptions for 29 yards and even threw a 40-yard pass. Wallace added 70 yards and touchdowns on the ground and passed for another 98.
As a whole, the Knights had 502 yards of offense.

That was much of the same for the Knights, a team that entered the evening second in all of Class 5A in points per game behind only powerhouse Dutch Fork. Despite the fourth 50-point game of the year, however, first-year coach Jody Jenerette was anything but boastful. He noted what he perceived to be coverage mistakes that led to the three long Stanfield touchdowns and some consistency issues throughout the evening.

“Until all the kids on the bus believe, we’re wasting our time,” said Jenerette, who came to West after coaching the previous 13 seasons at Aynor. “We need to find out who the toughest 11 guys are and get them on the field. That’s bad coaching, and something we’ve got to change.”

How much happens in the next two weeks will have to be proven against other Horry County programs. West Florence be up S.C. 707 at Socastee on Friday before facing Carolina Forest at home on Oct. 19.

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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