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Marlboro County High School
Bennettsville

Marlboro County’s final push for playoffs begins

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Bennettsville – According to head coach Dean Boyd, as tough as the first six weeks have been on his Marlboro County football team, the last three promise to be just as difficult, if not more so.

Marlboro County traditionally plays one of the state’s tougher non-region slate of games. That was the case this fall as Boyd’s Bulldogs tangled with the likes of Dillon, Hartsville, Carver’s Bay and Cheraw – all teams ranked in the top five of their respective classifications.

The Bulldogs managed to get through the gauntlet of the first five games with a 2-3 record, and opened region 7-AAAA play with a win over St. James to even the record at 3-3.

“You look at Hartsville, they have one loss so far this season. Dillon is undefeated and Carver’s Bay has one loss,” Boyd said. “We were able to beat Cheraw and that’s their only loss. We know going into every season what we’re up against. We play good football teams.”

Marlboro County went toe-to-toe with both Hartsville and Dillon, taking both games into the fourth quarter with a chance to win. They were tied with Hartsville, 7-7, with a chance to win the game late but lost, 21-14. Against Dillon, down 10-7 in the final quarter, the Bulldogs were inside the one-yard line before back-to-back penalties and a sack ended the opportunity to take the lead.

“This team is competing hard, playing hard, but we seem to have lost that edge that we have had in the big games in past years,” Boyd said. “We have to get that back. I think our kids give a great effort but they haven’t been able to close out games. We need to get that edge back. We need to believe in ourselves and have confidence that we can beat anyone.”

The Bulldogs, says Boyd, will end the regular season with as tough a schedule as they’ve had already. Marlboro County has three region games remaining, starting with a 4-2 Wilson team that comes to town on October 6th. Following that game are games against Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. North Myrtle Beach is currently 7-0 and ranked number two in Class AAAA.

“It’s a tough road ahead but we have to take them one at a time,” the coach said. “Wilson is as improved as any team in the state. Their new head coach has them believing and you can see the confidence their kids play with. They have great athletes and they have confidence. That’s a dangerous combination to go up against.”

As for his team, the coach says the Bulldogs have been a much improved team defensively this season.

“We’ve done a lot better than last year and the defense has given us chances to win,” he said.

The unit is getting solid production at all three levels of the defense. Malik Easterling, Demareon Bingham and Chris Hyatt have been solid along the front. Easterling has 52 total tackles while Bingham has 42. Hyatt has 32 total tackles.

The team’s leading tacklers are at inside linebacker where Ty Bridges has 106 tackles and Joey McCray has 88. Bridges was in on 23 tackles in the win over St. James while McCray was in on 18.

Outside linebackers Ja’Qualis Ford and Jaquez McCray have 30 and 45 tackles, respectively. Defensive back Tyrek Eaddy has 34 tackles while defensive backs Josh Brown and Jamiek McCoy have combined for 47 tackles.

The defense is allowing 188 yards rushing per game and 66 passing yards per game and has created 12 turnovers in six games.

Offensively, quarterback Elijah Blair has accounted for more than 1,500 yards this season. Blair has 1,043 yards passing for eight scores while adding 490 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

 Iyon Williams is the top receiver with 20 catches for 500 yards and five touchdowns. Eaddy, Rictavius McInnis and Damiyon Cherry also contribute in the passing game.

“We have moved the ball fairly well but costly penalties and mistakes really hurt us,” Boyd said. “We had the ball in the red zone four times against Hartsville and scored one touchdown. We had it down there three times against Dillon and scored once. We have left a lot of points on the field, by our own doing. We are focusing hard on eliminating mistakes and silly penalties. We will need to be better here in the last three weeks.”

 

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