Sports: Bears will come hungry to Waccamaw
By Roger Greene
Murphy’s Law certainly applied for the Waccamaw High football team during its visit to St. James last week. Whatever could have gone wrong for the Warriors did.
A defense that yielded 456 yards rushing, an offense that produced just 109 total yards, turnovers and a bevy of special teams miscues all contributed to a 42-14 defeat.
“To say the least, it was not the type of game we were looking for,” Waccamaw coach Tyronne Davis said. “Not much went right. We made the kind of mistakes that will get you beat every time.”
With Carvers Bay set to visit Warrior Field on Friday, there was no time to worry about what happened at St. James. Davis talked with his team about the importance of having a short memory and concentrating on the business at hand instead of looking back.
“St. James is a rivalry game and you never want to lose one of those,” said senior linebacker Malcolm Gibbs. “But they beat us and we can’t dwell on that. We have to move on. We have a lot more games left to play. That is what we need to focus on.”
A perennial power in both Georgetown County and the state, Carvers Bay has won a pair of state titles, but enters Friday with an uncharacteristic 0-2 mark. The Bears missed the playoffs for the first time in school history a season ago and have struggled due to inexperience in the early part of this season.
Sophomores account for nearly half of the Bears roster. Coach Nate Thompson said the bumps associated with his underclassmen’s continuing adjustment to varsity competition have been factors in losses to Timberland (49-6) and Georgetown (42-18).
“We’re playing hard, but there have just been too many mistakes,” Thompson said. “It seems like we’re so concerned with trying not to make mistakes, that we’re forgetting to just play. And we’re having a hard time recovering when something goes against us.”
Carvers Bay does have imposing physical size. Senior left tackle Stephen Bromell (6-foot-7, 287 pounds) anchors the offensive line and sophomores Naquez Pringle (6-4, 291), Shawn Lawrence (6-3, 270) and D’vonte Gamble (6-6, 265) add size and depth to the offensive and defensive fronts.
Sophomore running back Devin Cuttino is coming off an impressive performance against Georgetown where he totaled 129 rushing yards on 18 carries. Included in those numbers was a 73-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve had moments where we’ve looked good,” Thompson said. “But those have been overshadowed by the mistakes. We’ve got to get out of our own way and put together a complete game.”
Stopping Carvers Bay’s running game will be a priority for Waccamaw’s defense. The Warriors allowed more than eight yards per carry against the Sharks and gave up four touchdown runs of 24 yards or more.
“We didn’t tackle well,” Davis said. “We weren’t aggressive enough getting to the ball and there were too many arm tackles.”
Offensively, the Warriors (1-1) have blended styles through the first two games. They used a three-back power formation during the course of a 54-21 win over Latta in the season opener. They stayed with that scheme through the first half against St. James before switching to the spread during the second half.
Quarterback Nick Davis and receiver A.J. Grant showed a sense of cohesion, combining for five completions and 58 yards. Davis connected with Grant on touchdowns of 11 and 19 yards against the Sharks, igniting a brief second-half rally.
“We’ll probably continue to use both offenses,” Davis said. “If we can both run and pass effectively, we’ll be harder to defend.”
Waccamaw has never beaten Carvers Bay, losing all seven games in the series. The teams were region rivals before the Bears dropped to Class A and played every year from 2000 through 2005. The series resumed last year with the Bears scoring a 26-14 decision.
“Carvers Bay is a big, physical team,” said Davis, a former Bears assistant coach. “They have a great tradition. Nobody should be fooled by their record. They are still Carvers Bay.”
“We had a meeting after we lost to St. James,” Gibbs said. “We knew the way we played wasn’t good enough. Practices have been better this week. We’ve used it as [an opportunity] for a fresh start.”
Of note: Waccamaw will likely be without sophomore running back Jalen Simmons against Carvers Bay. He injured his knee at St. James.