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Marlboro County High School
Bennettsville

 

Defense propels Marlboro County to 4-0 start

By David Shelton
Senior Writer

Bennettsville – After allowing 30 points per game during a 2-8 season in 2017, Marlboro County head football coach Dean Boyd decided some changes needed to be made if his program was to avoid a third straight losing season.
Boyd, who has more than 200 wins as the head coach at Marlboro County, made wholesale changes to his defensive coaching staff and allowed the staff to implement changes in scheme. After four games, the results have been better than even Boyd expected.
The Bulldogs are off to a 4-0 start behind a defense that has allowed just 46 points in four games.
“The changes we made were key, no question,” Boyd said. “Our staff has done a great job of fitting the kids to the new scheme. We have much more speed on defense than we had last year. The speed has been a big difference. Our kids playing fast and physical and they’re flying around. It’s good to see the pride they are taking in being a good unit.”
Among the defensive leaders along the front have been Marquez Johnson and Shamar Sprattlin. Ends Dashawn Zimmerman and John McLeod have been solid and active.
Junior Ishmael Sloan is a leader at linebacker, along with senior Davon Green and junior Quincy Graham. Jordan Swinton and Tyrek Eaddy, both seniors, are ball hawks in the defensive backfield.
Stirring the drink on the offensive side of the football is senior quarterback Elijah Blair. Blair has been quite effective in the passing game early on, throwing for nearly 600 yards in four games and completing better than 60 percent of his attempts.
Eaddy has been the primary target in the passing game early with five touchdown receptions. Boyd is looking to get more pass catchers involved down the stretch. Seniors Calron Thomas and Rictavius McInnis, along with junior Jamiek McCoy will get more opportunities to make plays.
“We have to spread it around more, get more involved because we have some very capable receivers,” the coach said. “Eaddy is a threat but we have some other guys who need to get touches.”
Sophomore Demetrius Hicks handles most of the work in the running game with Blair also excelling as a runner.
The offensive line has been a work in progress as the unit deals with players being out of action. Torquery James has been the most consistent along the front. Trey Patterson at left tackle also is a key player that will be needed healthy down the stretch. Khalid Roberts and Gary Bethea will be expected to contribute as well.
The annual clash with rival Hartsville is set for October 5th. In addition to being a big game in terms of the rivalry, it also marks the start of region 6-AAAA play. The region is the most competitive in the state with four teams – Hartsville, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Marlboro County – ranked among the state’s top 10.
Hartsville enters the contest as the top-ranked team in AAAA and is also off to a 4-0 start.
“It’s a big game every year for sure,” Boyd said. “Our kids know what this game is all about and I’m sure Hartsville’s kids do as well. It’s a good rivalry but both programs respect the other. It’s always a fun game to play.”
The Bulldogs follow the region opener with Myrtle Beach on October 12. They play Darlington on October 19 and Wilson on October 25. They conclude the regular season with a game against North Myrtle Beach on November 2nd. That game was moved from earlier in the season due to Hurricane Florence.
“It’s a really tough schedule from here on out so we have to be at our best,” Boyd said. 

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