Solomon speeds off field for final time at Socastee

Kenney Solomon will get another opportunity to slip on the Socastee colors before an athletic event.

But Thursday’s home game against Carolina Forest will mark the final time he dons football pads for the Braves.

Solomon, the electric three-way senior, will wrap up his football career on Friday, ending what has become a consistent highlight reel of plays on offense, defense and special teams.

After Socastee was eliminated from playoff contention with last week’s loss to St. James, Solomon wants to make his last Socastee game count.

“I definitely want to play as hard as I can and come out with a win. That’s for sure, come out with a win,” he said. “It would mean a lot. When you look back at your high school career, I could say I won my last game as a high school football player.”

That would be a high note for Solomon, not only because of the opponent – Carolina Forest enters the week still alive for a Region VI-5A title – but also because victories have been few and far between for the Braves over the course of the last two years. Socastee has lost nine of its last 12 and is a mere 1-6 this year while going winless in region play. Half of the team’s six losses this season have come by 24 points or more.

Still, coach Doug Illing says amid the piling up defeats, Solomon has showed an increase in maturity and leadership when his teammates need it most, something the team has needed more of as the 2018 campaign neared its end.

Solomon’s production has helped his standing, and his dynamic speed has certainly been a major cause for his production. That’s something Illing and Co. knew they had at their disposal all along. The 6-foot, 160-pounder finished seventh in the state meet in the Class 5A 200-meter and had the second-best qualifying time in South Carolina in the 100 before being dinged for an early start in the state finals. He’ll enter the spring track season as one of the few sprinters statewide expected to reach both finals again.

Combined with some impressive film from his junior season in football – when he picked off six passes – it was no surprise he entered his final year at Socastee with 14 college football offers and has 16 now after his most recent one from Samford. Although Solomon has two offers to play offense, he is typically considered a defensive back at the next level and is being mostly recruited for that position.

“When he puts his foot in the ground and plants, I’ve never seen anything like that, and I’ve had some good ones,” Illing said of Solomon’s abilities at cornerback. “He has the great anticipation with that explosion.

“He’s just got tremendous talent. He’s so explosive with his speed. The NFL is built around speed. When you get a kid like that, you want to try to utilize that the best you can.”

At Socastee, that meant keeping him on the field as much as humanly possible. And this fall, he’s proved just how valuable he can be across the board.

In seven games, he’s put up 359 rushing yards, 324 receiving and another 267 in the punt and kickoff return games while tallying six total touchdowns. From his spot in the defensive backfield, he’s added 16 tackles and two interceptions.

Considering that has come in just seven games due to game cancellations caused by Hurricane Florence, the numbers could have easily been significantly higher. If Socastee had played a 10-game regular season, Solomon would have projected to rack up more than 1,200 total yards and nine touchdowns.

He’s made plenty of believers along the way. Back on Oct. 12 during an otherwise humbling loss to West Florence, Solomon caught a punt at his own 15, gained his footing, weaved around traffic and eventually got into the end zone.

“He’s the fastest dude I’ve seen in a long time,” West Florence coach Jody Jenerette said that night.

Added Illing: “He hasn’t even touched his potential here in high school with his speed. That’s one of the things I tell college coaches – we train him at so many positions he never gets skill development at one.”

First, he’ll have one more showcase for his diverse skill set against Carolina Forest, not to mention the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl (formerly the North-South All-Star game) on December 15 at Coastal Carolina’s Brooks Stadium. He’ll be wearing a different jersey that day.

But if nothing else, it will give him one last chance to put on a Socastee helmet.

“My goal is to get to the highest point,” he said. “I get to represent Socastee, my family. I’ll be thankful for the support I get during that game. Wearing [a Braves logo], that’s a big part of it for me.”

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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