December 2, 2008

Chester, Myrtle Beach could provide title-game fireworks

COLUMBIA -- Did most of you realize what Chester did last Friday night for a return ticket to the Class AAA state championship game?

The Cyclones went on the road and knocked off Daniel, Class AAA's No. 1 team, 27-24.

But that was Friday and Maurice Flowers, in his first year at Chester, has his radar tuned to the next game. At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Chester will attempt to win the state championship that eluded the Cyclones by two points last season.

They will play Myrtle Beach, winner of the Lower State title after last Friday's 51-50 triple overtime victory over Marlboro County.

The game has the makings of becoming the longest in state championship history. The Cyclones and Seahawks are wide open on offense in the spread formation. Expect the air to be filled with footballs.

"When we started out, our goal was to throw 50 to 60 passes a game,'' Flowers said. "But we have big and athletic linemen who can move their feet and have the push that allows us to run the ball.

"We run the spread to allow our sophomore quarterback, Tony McNeal, to show his ability. But we realized that another of our talented sophomores, tailback Julius Pendergrass, is a good runner and we could also run the ball well.''

Flowers said he watched film clips of Myrtle Beach sophomore quarterback Everett Golson on the Internet and saw his Cyclones would be challenged to keep up with him.

Golson is an exceptional talent and helped lead Myrtle Beach to last year's state basketball championship. His coach is former Chester boys basketball coach DeAndre Scott.

"Everett runs our spread well,'' Myrtle Beach coach Scott Earley said. "He's also talented in class and in the music field. He's well rounded and takes football for what it is. It's a game to him and he has fun being out there with his friends.

"I've never compared him to any other quarterback until after watching Chester on video. Both teams have very similar quarterbacks.''

Myrtle Beach won four state championships under the late Doug Shaw in the 1980s, but this is the Seahawks' first trip back to the dance since then.

Chester last won the state title in 1963 and is back for the second straight year after losing 14-12 to Wilson last year.

"When I first got to Chester this year, I was told I had to win the state championship,'' Flowers said. "The person who said that was Jeff Gardner, my principal.''

• KICKER: You can point to many reasons Chester lost the state championship last year, but the glaring cause was the lack of a kicker.

The Cyclones went for two every time they scored last year and made most of them until they ran into Wilson in the title game.

Flowers said finding a kicker, snapper and holder were his top priorities. He found one in Marshall Whitesides. The brother of a former Cyclones kicker, Whitesides made Chester's first field goal this season in 10 years. He's been deadly on PATs after a shaky start.

"We had to find other people who could get us points,'' Flowers said. "He has progressed over the season. We stayed with Marshall because we believe in him.''

• SUPER SOPHS: Three of the state's top sophomore quarterbacks will be on the field at Clemson.

First up is Northwestern's Justin Worley, who will lead his Trojans against the South Pointe Stallions in the Class AAAA Division II game at 8 p.m. on Friday.

Worley has passed for 3,345 yards and 48 touchdowns. His TD tosses broke the record of 41 set by Will King last year.

When Chester and Myrtle Beach play at 6 p.m. on Saturday, it could easily turn into the McNeal/Golson show.

Chester's McNeal has thrown for 3,378 yards and 35 TDs. Myrtle Beach's Golson has passed for 3,334 yards and 41 touchdowns.

• REUNION: South Pointe's Bobby Carroll coached under Jimmy Wallace at Northwestern, but that wasn't the only tie for Carroll at Monday's press conference.

Dillon plays Central at noon Saturday in the Class AA championship game. Dillon is coached by House Dist. 55 Rep. Jackie Hayes (D), Dillon.

Hayes was a four-year letterman in football at Dillon and Catawba (N.C.) College. In 1979, Hayes was the starting quarterback for South Carolina's Shrine Bowl team. Carroll, who played at York, was one of the team's starting guards.

Drum roll, please: South Carolina won 37-21.

• TICKETS: Tickets go on sale today through Friday at all three Herald-area schools.

South Pointe will sell tickets in its athletics office from 10 a.m.-2 p.m; at Northwestern's athletics office from 8 a.m-4p.m.; at Chester's main office during school hours; and also at Black's Drugstore.

Tickets are $8 advance and $10 at the gate.

• BUS: Northwestern is arranging buses to Friday night's game against South Pointe at Death Valley.

If you are interested in riding a motor coach to the game, contact Rose Baker at the Northwestern athletics department at 803-981-1231.

The cost for a game ticket and round-trip transportation is $32. The deadline to sign up is Wednesday at 4 p.m. Payment must be made at that time to confirm your reservation.

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