Pigskin Peek: Braves look to turn the corner in 2016

socfoot-25practiceSocastee coach Doug Illing feels that 2015 was a learning experience for his football team.

The Braves, who finished the season 2-9 overall and 1-4 in Region 6-4A, will be tested again as they take the next step to Region 6-5A. They remain in the same league with rivals Conway, Carolina Forest, South Florence, Sumter and West Florence. Socastee captured its wins last season over West Florence and North Myrtle Beach, and suffered a heart-breaking 34-32 loss to Myrtle Beach.

“We know what we are facing this season. We were very in tune during the offseason,” Illing said. “We are going to have to be on our A game every time out. I like our chances. We are going to grind through it.”

After the first scrimmage against Union County on Friday, Illing was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I like where we are at right now. After going through spring and camp, and going against yourself, you can get into a lull,” he added. “I was anxious to see where we were and I thought we matched speed with them as well as on offense and defense.”

Junior running back Edward Tucker had several good runs in the scrimmage, showing skills both out of the backfield and catching the ball in the open field. He looks to be a key contributor, along with senior Austin Lilly at offensive line and defensive line, and senior offensive lineman Jacob Necessary.

Senior Ronnie McPherson came out with several key tackles for the Braves, including a number for losses, to lead Socastee. Junior Devin Stamp, who plays outside linebacker and wide receiver, played with great presence and physical awareness, according to Illing.

“We made great strides on both sides of the ball,” Illing said. “What we showed today is our physical play, and last year we got overwhelmed physically.

Socastee quarterback Hunter Illing faced the defense from Union, and was able to put together several solid drives. Illing did say that the Braves have to protect the ball better and not make costly turnovers.

“Hunter had a really good day. He made a few mistakes that ended up in turnovers. These are things that he can improve on. He was able to execute the offense very well,” Illing said of his nephew. “We do have to get better on turnovers, and better at taking away the ball on defense.”

Socastee lost Taylor Karnap and Keyon Clora to graduation from the 2015 season. Karnap, who is at Charleston Southern and planning to play for the Buccaneers, played WR, RB and DB. Clora was an athlete, who was a utility player for the Braves.
Up next for Socastee is a scrimmage against Loris at home on Tuesday.

SOCASTEE
Aug. 19 – at West Brunswick (NC)
Aug. 26 – vs. North Brunswick (NC)
Sept. 9 – at Myrtle Beach
Sept. 16 – North Myrtle Beach
Sept. 23 – at St. James
Sept. 30 – Carolina Forest*
Oct. 7 – at Conway*
Oct. 14 – West Florence*
Oct. 21 – South Florence*
Oct. 28 – at Sumter*

Photo by Joel Beachum

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