WHS football: Warriors head into second round
By Roger Greene
It’s Nov. 15 and Waccamaw High is still playing football.
The Warriors’ trip to Lake Marion tonight marks the first time in nearly two decades they have advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
According to coach Tyronne Davis, the win that set up tonight’s contest – an 18-13 upset at Edisto in the first round – continues to pay residual benefits.
“There’s a lot of excitement around our program,” Davis said. “From the players, the coaches, the fans, really from everyone who is connected with us.
“We ran into a tough stretch when we stared our [Region VIII-AA] schedule. We had some injuries and things that set us back. The win we had last week has given us new hope.”
There were few tricks involved in Waccamaw’s game plan against Edisto. Rather, the mindset was to be physical on both sides of the ball.
The Warriors piled up more than 300 yards rushing in the game and kept Edisto quarterback Tyrell Maxwell contained, limiting the Shrine Bowl selection to under 100 yards rushing and less than a 50 percent completion rate on his passing attempts.
That strategy won’t deviate much at Lake Marion, the No. 5 seed in the Class AA Division I Lower State bracket.
“They’re very athletic, and very similar to the type of team we saw last week with Edisto,” Davis said. “We got our running game going last week, and our defense was very aggressive in putting pressure on their offense.
“We’ll be asking our kids to do much of the same on Friday. Hopefully, we’ll be able to rise to the occasion again.”
As is the case with Waccamaw, there is much energy surrounding Lake Marion’s program as Friday’s will be the first playoff game the school has hosted.
“There were 48 [Class AA teams] that started the playoffs last week, this week we’re down to 24,” Davis said. “After this weekend, there will be just 12 left. Both teams are going to be fired up. We each want to be among those 12 teams that will still be playing.”
WHS quarterback Jalen Simmons and running back Justin Holmes generated much of Waccamaw’s success on the ground at Edisto, combining for 279 yards. Simmons provided the scoring punch though, accounting for all of the Warriors touchdowns.
Holmes was one of several Waccamaw backs to miss time during the second half of the season due to injury, and his return to health – plus that of fellow backs Rob Ferraro and Tyriq Grant – has boosted the scoring punch of an offensive that produced just 22 points over the last four games.
“The injuries were costly, no question,” Davis said. “We had a good start [winning four of five non-region games] but when the injuries started piling up, we kind of stalled out. And it wasn’t only at running back, we were missing key players all over the field.
“But we’ve got a lot of those guys back and its made a difference. We have more options. It’s allowed us to get back to doing more of what we were at the start of the year.”