Region 6-4A: Seahawks, Chiefs dominate debuts

Many high school quarterbacks would consider what Luke Doty has done against Hartsville alone a good season.

The Myrtle Beach senior has done it in three games.

Doty threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 85 yards on the ground to lead the Seahawks to a 42-21 win over Hartsville at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium Friday night.

“It’s just a level of competition that Hartsville brings,” Doty said. “They’re a great team. They have great athletes and they’re coached really well. It just raises the standard of our play.”

The two teams met twice last year — once in the regular-season finale where the Red Foxes claimed the Region VI-4A championship with a victory and again in the lower state finals, where Myrtle Beach dominated. Combined with those two games, Doty has now thrown for 897 yards and 10 touchdowns and run for another 334 yards and three scores.

The latest boost to his career number charts against Hartsville came despite the fact that he didn’t have his best game, by his standard or that of offensive coordinator Wes Streater. Of course, onlookers may argue with that.

Doty led the Seahawk offense to touchdowns on each of the team’s five first-half possessions and spread the ball around considerably. In total, several different receivers caught a pass, and all of them had at least one first-down reception.

Leading the way was J.J. Jones, the junior who earlier in the day received his third Power-Five offer (from Penn State) and hauled in six passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

“Luke’s always a very consistent player,” Jones said. “He’s an Elite 11 kind of quarterback. You would love to have that kind of quarterback for any team, really.”

Doty’s biggest hiccup against Hartsville — which trailed 28-0 in the second quarter and never closed the gap to within three scores — was a third-quarter interception in which Red Foxes’ defensive lineman Kevon Haigler made an athletic move from his spot in the trenches and picked it out of the air. However, that and any other perceived mistakes were all manageable and easy to overcome — thanks to all the stuff he did right.

Some of that was to be expected given what he had accomplished against Hartsville last year, when Jeff Calabrese’s team was downright loaded and still had Tiyon Evans pre-graduation. Calabrese said during pre-game that he estimated some 40 players who were in uniform last year are no longer a part of the team for a variety of reasons, and in many ways he was starting over with some of the basics.

Regardless, the unanimous No. 1 team in Class 4A dismantled Hartsville, ranked No. 8 in the latest polls, and made it look relatively easy. Xayvion Knox had three touchdown runs, linebacker Shedrick Pointer was all over the field defensively and had another double-digit tackle night and all those receivers made up for the loss of Adam Randall, who is expected to miss at least another month while he recovers from a shoulder injury.

And, of course, there was the guy getting all of them the ball.

“He showed a lot of poise,” Seahawks coach Mickey Wilson said of Doty. “He had some time in the pocket and he did a good job of letting things develop and going through his reads. He easily could have got back there and took off. Even though he had to do that some, he did a good job of taking care of the football.”

By Ian Guerin

North Myrtle Beach 28, Marlboro County 7

In his post-game speech Friday, Matt Reel told his players their 28-7 win over Marlboro County could have been more convincing.

“You ain’t even got close to playing at your potential yet,” he said. “That’s the scary part.”

What’s also frightening — at least for the Chiefs’ future opponents — is that they are the No. 3-ranked team in the state for Class 4A.

Using a mixture of solid defense and a timely ground game, North Myrtle Beach (5-0, 1-0 region) seemed to be in control for much of Friday’s contest.

After forcing a punt on the Bulldogs’ opening drive, North Myrtle Beach made the most of its first possession, marching down the field and taking the lead on a two-yard Messiah Gore touchdown run.

The Bulldogs then tightened up their defense and found some success in the air, tying the game with just over 11 minutes to go in the second quarter. That’s when Marlboro County’s Jamiek McCoy snagged a 27-yard pass from quarterback Darrius Grant.

Marlboro County was driving again when North Myrtle Beach forced a turnover with under six minutes to go in the second quarter.

The offense seemed like it would stall again, but a creative reverse allowed Nick Moss to break free for a 41-yard touchdown scamper with 2:45 left in the second quarter.

The Chiefs withstood a late drive by the Bulldogs and the halftime score was 14-7. That margin frustrated Reel, who said his team should have built a bigger lead. However, he credited the Bulldogs and specifically their quarterback Grant for keeping the game close early.

“They did some things that we hadn’t seen on film,” he said. “They put some guys in different places personnel-wise and gave us some different looks.”

Strategically, the Chiefs felt their pass rush could overwhelm the Bulldogs’ offensive line. Their plan was to force Grant to make throws and stifle the running game.

That pressure began to bear fruit in the second half as the Chiefs continued attacking the quarterback. Their offense also came to life.

A 34-yard kickoff return by Moss set up a drive that ended in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Freeman to Zyer Belle with just over 10 minutes to go in the third quarter.

The exclamation point came after a botched Marlboro County punt set up the North Myrtle Beach offense at the Bulldogs 7. Zyon Belle’s four-yard TD punch pushed the lead to three scores.

Zyon Belle finished the game with 81 rushing yards.

“We’ve been playing good,” the senior running back said. “But now we’ve got to play great because the teams get harder. The teams that are in the region, they don’t quit. They keep going.”

Reel agreed.

He pointed out that he’s had veteran teams the last two seasons. This squad isn’t as experienced, but that’s led to a steady progression of adding skills and cutting bad habits. Because of that youth, he knows this team hasn’t plateaued.

“The last two years, we almost blossomed a little too early, as crazy as that sounds,” he said. “You want to play your best football going into the playoffs.”

One concern from Friday’s game was the ejection of defensive lineman Trey Baker, who was penalized for targeting. Reel said his staff will review the game film to see if they want to appeal the officials’ call, which could result in a two-game suspension.

The Chiefs will host Wilson next week in another tough region contest. And their region scheduled also includes the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A — Myrtle Beach.

“The people we’re getting to play are really, really good football teams,” Reel said. “If we don’t do the little things right, we’re going to have a let down eventually. That’s the things we’ve got to tighten up.”

By Charles Perry

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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