MURRELLS INLET – People say that it is better to win ugly than to lose pretty. This is a saying that can be used to sum up a win even when the performance is not up to par. That’s exactly how Coach Matt Reel felt about his team when getting on the bus to return after a 20-6 road win over St. James.
In a game where the Chiefs should have been able to pile up the points and yards, it took until the 6:20 mark of the fourth quarter just for the offense to produce the second touchdown of the night, a play where Cason McClendon hit Naseem Harrison in the end zone for a 19 yard score. Harrison’s reception capped a 6 play, 62 yard drive. McClendon also scored the other touchdown on a short run in the first quarter.
St. James, a program that is clearly in rebuilding mode under first year head coach Tommy Norwood, had every opportunity to stay in a contest that they shouldn’t have been in. The Chiefs were plagued by three turnovers (all committed in the first half) and 93 penalized yards. One of the turnovers came on a fumble deep inside Sharks territory.
The Chiefs may be 4-0 and ranked No. 6 in Class 4A, but the true test of the schedule is right around the corner. The second half of the 2018 campaign features games against Hartsville, Darlington, Wilson, and Myrtle Beach. Hartsville looked nearly unstoppable, blanking Conway 35-0. Myrtle Beach’s offense was soaring at home, rolling past Socastee for a 56-20 win. For the Chiefs to earn a higher seed in the playoffs, they will have to play much better than tonight.
After the game, Coach Reel challenged the players and declared that no starting position is safe. He referred to this week’s set of practices as open tryouts. He understands the grueling task that is ahead. To be successful the rest of the way, each player will have to earn their place and put together a maximum effort in all phases of the game.
We will see how this team will respond with a trip to Socastee next Friday night before entering the bye week. This is another game that the Chiefs should win, but it’s going to take a tremendous effort. Tonight’s game against St. James proved that going on the road is never easy no matter who the opponent is.
One bright spot for the night was sophomore kicker Zane Smith. Smith has continued to show that he is not only one of the best kickers in South Carolina, but in the country. Smith blasted a career long 48 yard field goal as time ran out in the first half. His clutch kick gave the Chiefs a 10-0 lead going into the locker room. He also hit a 25 yard shot in the first half. Coach Reel left the young kicker with the game ball!
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