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The 11th Annual Dennis Miller Classic Brings Top Rated Teams From Pee Dee Area Together Starting At 5 P.M. Friday

Dennis Miller Memorial Classic Always Attract Top Talent From The Pee Dee Area In South Carolina, Event Starts At 5 P.M. Friday In Bennettsville  

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Bennettsville—The 11th annual Dennis Miller Memorial Football Classic is scheduled to be played at Marlboro County High School starting on Friday at 5 p.m. with 12 schools participating in the annual event.

There will be numerous jamborees ongoing between Thursday and Saturday across South Carolina (weather permitting) including the annual Sertoma Classic to be held at The Citadel involving teams from the greater Charleston area. 

At the Dennis Miller Classic, each team will play two quarter game type scrimmages. Starting things off at 5 p.m. will be the HSSR number seven pre-season ranked McBee in Class A versus Carvers Bay, ranked 11th in AA by the HSSR.  At 6 p.m. number two Class A ranked Lake View battles emerging Cheraw, ranked third in AA. At 7 p.m. Darlington challenges Chesterfield.

Around 8 p.m. Dillon, ranked second in AAA plays top ranked Lamar in Class A. At 9 p.m. second ranked AAAA Hartsville does battle with Central, ranked 7th in AA. In the 10 p.m. nightcap host school Marlboro County plays Mullins.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) the forecast for rain on Friday was 100 per cent, and today it is down to 75 per cent, and unless it is lightning, we are trying to do our very best to conduct this event,” said Marlboro County athletic director and head football coach Dean Boyd. “We have only cancelled the event once in 11 seasons and that was because the field was too soggy to play on after a few days of heavy rain. We have stayed off the field so far this August, so the field is still in good shape despite the rain we have had.”

Marlboro County is led on offense by top senior offensive lineman Noah Henderson (6-7, 285) who has only been playing football two seasons after moving to the area from Belize two years ago. Another top player on offense for the Bulldogs is junior receiver Iyon Williams (5-10, 185). The top sophomore on the team is right guard Tim McNeil (6-5, 295). Junior quarterback Elijah Blair (5-10, 190) takes over at quarterback for the Bulldogs.

“Last year we were not very good on defense, just to be honest, and we are much improved on that side of the ball this year,” said Coach Boyd. “We got great news in late July that our top linebacker Joey McRae (6-0, 230) would be able to play early after only playing in 3.5 games last year due to injury. He made 66 tackles which was incredible for the amount of time he played. Another key player on defense will be lineman DamarionPudge”  Bingham (5-7, 230).”

Hartsville and Dillon will bring two state championship contenders to the Dennis Miller Classic and the HSSR was on hand to see the two teams scrimmage in Dillon last Friday night.

In that scrimmage Dillon displayed a big and physical offensive line that helped senior running back Jalen Williams explode for three touchdown runs of 50 yards or more in the scrimmage. ZaReon Hayes was a stopper for the Nasty Cats on defense along with highly regarded Shamar McCollum. Hayes ran a couple series at Wildcat quarterback looking like a bull on roller skates plowing thorough the Red Fox defense. Dillon will also get a lot of production from receiver/defensive back Tyquan Porter who played like a four star prospect in the scrimmage, on both sides of the football. Dawson Dove (6-2, 295) looked impressive at center for the Wildcats as well.

Hartsville, playing with their usual team disclipline used five or six running backs in the Dillon scrimmage with Tiyon Evans, Collins Bishop and speedy freshman newcomer Darian Pendergrass all playing well against the talented Dillon defense. Pendergrass used his speed for a late scrimmage home run type score as he out-ran everyone on a 55 yard scamper.

After the scrimmage Dillon head coach Jackie Hayes (291-52) commented, “It was a typical scrimmage with us making a lot of mistakes but we were flying around giving great effort. This is real important. Hartsville is a good measuring stick. There were two pretty good teams on the field tonight getting after it pretty good. If we can stay healthy, and if everyone does what they are suppose to do, we should be their in the end.”

Dillon will be coming into the Dennis Miller Classic fresh off a Thursday night appearance in the Lumberton Jamboree where they are scheduled to play traditional power Scotland County in a much anticipated match-up.

Red Fox head coach Jeff Calabrese (148-57) said this after the two hour work-out against Dillon: “It is always great to scrimmage at Dillon,” said Coach Calabrese. “This scrimmage is always physical and this game is always a good measuring stick for us. We still have a lot of things to work on. We saw good individual efforts tonight.   

“I like our team camaraderie right now and our good team chemistry with this group are our strengths coming into the season,” said Coach Calabrese. “When you have good team chemistry it helps you work through the adversity you have every year.

“We are in team camp this week so we started out a little flat at the start of the scrimmage and we got stronger as it went along. I was still trying to get kids to bed at 5 a.m. this morning and you always have those issues during team camp.

“Before we go to Marlboro County on Friday we will scrimmage Sumter on Wednesday, so we will have a day to look at film before playing and always tough Central of Pageland team on Friday.”

Central comes into the Dennis Miller Classic under new head coach Trent Usher and the Eagles have played well early on. They are led by junior prospect Devin Rushing (6-5, 310) at right guard and senior left tackle/nationally rated long snapper B.R. Hatcher (6-4, 251) at left tackle. Quan Chambers is also a talented athlete for the Eagles.

Lake View, the defending Class A state champions in South Carolina are coached by Daryl King and despite being hit hard by graduation losses the Wild Gators are contenders once again. Lamar, led by athlete Jeblonski Green (6-1, 215) on both sides of the football return seven starters on offense and five starters on a defense from a team that finished 13-1 last year before losing to the Wild gators in the finals. Head coach Corey Fountain is 33-8 as the head coach in Lamar coming into his fourth season.

Andy Poole, starting his second year a this alma mater Cheraw returns 17 of 21 starters off a team that went 11-2 last year. The Braves are led by senior prospect Nazir Mallory (6-3, 220) at outside linebacker and defensive end. Nick Dozier (6-1, 250) is a stopper in the defensive front and senior middle linebacker Tallon Campbell (6-1, 215) is a sure tackle at inside linebacker as well. Kristain McCray (6-1, 190) is a solid running back and Collin Burch (6-3, 245) is a talent at linebacker also. A pair of talented sophomores add depth to the Braves in two way lineman Xavier McIver (6-3, 260) who has an offer form South Carolina and Jalen Coit (6-0, 160) a receiver.  

Carvers Bay, coached by Nate Thompson is led by senior defensive lineman Emmanuel Tatum (6-0, 270) and a pair of juniors, quarterback Jamaz Sumpter and running back Torent King.  

McBee, 10-4 last year, is coached by Charlie Poole and they are led by senior quarterback Shane Hammonds and junior running back Tyrece Wright. Marion, coached by former Marlboro County athlete Quinn McCollum is coming off a 4-7 season. They are led by senior defensive lineman Craig Leggette and junior receiver Dellieon Moody. Mullins, coming off a 4-7 season, is coached by John Williams and the Auc’s are led by senior receiver Ni John Bethea and junior receiver Anthony Leggette.

Chesterfield is head coached by Chris Arnoult and the Golden Rams return 11 starters on both sides of the ball.   Darlington, coached by John Jones, should see vast improvement after a 1-10 season last year. The team's top players are senior defensive lineman Altreek Williams and junior receiver Jordan English.  


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