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Sports: Missing handshake is least of concerns for county rivals

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

The first thing to remember about last year’s testy meeting between Waccamaw and Georgetown is that the 2010 season is history. Though the teams are set to meet again tonight at Warrior Field, neither squad has time to focus on chippiness that, at least to some degree, took away from Georgetown’s 30-7 victory a year ago.

With Waccamaw (1-3) having lost three straight and Georgetown (2-1) coming off a 34-14 loss to Andrews, both squads have more immediate priorities to focus on.

“Both teams need a win,” Waccamaw coach Tyronne Davis said. “It’s important that we play Georgetown. It would be nice if it could turn into a good county rivalry. That would be good for both schools. I know their coaches will be pumping up their kids, and we’ll be doing the same to ours. I expect both teams to be ready on Friday. I don’t foresee any problems carrying over.”

“What happened last year is way behind us,” Georgetown coach Bradley Adams said. “Both teams need a win. There is no time to worry about anything else.”

Davis is in his second year leading the Warriors program. Prior to taking over at Waccamaw, he was head coach at Georgetown for two seasons. He expected last year’s game to be intense, and it played out in that same manner. The emotions reached such a degree that the teams didn’t engage in the traditional post-game handshake.

Though the non-handshake garnered its share of publicity, it’s not the first time high school players haven’t shaken hands at the end of a game. Nor will it be the last.

Davis says he and Georgetown coach Bradley Adams continue to have a positive relationship. While serving as an assistant coach at Newberry College, one of Adams’ recruiting stops was to see Davis at Georgetown.

“We have a great relationship,” Davis said. “We talk during the season, and we talked the day after the game last year. As a coach, you’re always looking out for the best interests of your kids. Looking back to last year, emotions were very high and I didn’t want anyone to be put into a negative situation.”

“Coach Davis and I are on the same page,” Adams said. “What happened last year was blown out of proportion. It was a situation where everyone was trying to keep problems from happening. Everyone did what they felt like they had to do. Nobody took anything personal.”

Last year’s loss to Georgetown represented a turning point in Waccamaw’s season. Winners of three of four games at the time, the Warriors would not win again for the remainder of the year. Davis hopes the matchup with the Bulldogs can once again be pivotal, only this time in a positive direction.

“We’ve faced adversity all year,” Davis said. “We’ve had just about everything thrown at us.”

Despite the misfortune that has helped contribute to the three-game losing streak, Waccamaw players remain upbeat and optimistic.

“We’re a little frustrated with the losses,” said senior defensive tackle Brandon Green. “But we have to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”

“We’re not happy with how we’ve played,” said sophomore quarterback Jack Monroe. “We have the talent. We just have to put it together on the field.”

Waccamaw’s defense has yielded 100 total points in losses to St. James, Carvers Bay and Hannah-Pamplico and will be tested by a Georgetown offense that averages more than 27 points per game. The Bulldogs attack uses multiple formations, and they are capable of producing big plays on the ground or through the air.

Running back Leonard Leak (299 yards rushing, five touchdowns) is the primary ballcarrier and receivers A.J. Walker and Tarik Tucker – who averages more than 28 yards per reception – are playmakers when the Bulldogs want to stretch the field.

“You have to be disciplined when you are trying to defend them,” Davis said. “They use a lot of different formations, so it’s not always easy to know your assignment. A big thing for our defense will be how we respond when we make a mistake. We’ve been dwelling too much on that. We can’t hang our heads, we have to get back in the huddle and be ready to line up again.”

“We need to keep a positive attitude,” Green said. “If something goes wrong, we can’t worry about it. We have to move on to the next play.”

After scoring 54 points in the season opening win over Latta, the Warriors offense has produced only 31 total points the last three weeks. The offensive line remains a point of emphasis, where the search for the right combination of players to man the line of scrimmage continues.

Overall depth is also an issue. Roughly 18 to 20 players are in the regular offensive and defensive rotations and Davis wants to see those numbers increase into the low 20s by the time the Warriors host Mullins on Sept. 30 for the Region VIII-AA opener.

The Warriors have a bye next week to help prepare for that game.

“We’ve struggled in some of the non-region games, but the bright side to that is they don’t count against us in the region,” Davis said. “Everything we’re doing now is to help us prepare for the region. That is when we want to be playing our best football.”

“The region is what really counts,” Monroe said. “If we can get in there and get a couple of wins, anything can happen.”

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