MYRTLE BEACH -- Football coaches have years of practice taking the high road and not making a statement that could pump up that week's opponent. It even happens at all-star games.
The gloves came off this week in Myrtle Beach as the coaches prepared for today's 60th SCADA North-South All-Star Game.
Neither coach, St. John's Larry Sechrist nor North Central's Ron Blackmon, elected to sugarcoat the matchup.
"Every time a player suits up, he's going out there with thoughts of winning,'' Sechrist said. "Sure, this game is meant to be fun after a long, hard season. We'll have fun, but winning matters and that's why they keep score. Our kids are aware that we've taken it on the chin the last couple of years.''
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Past results favor the North, a 24-0 winner last year and the victor in five of the last six meetings. The North holds a comfortable 33-24-2 edge.
"Any game, any football game you play, is exactly what it is,'' Blackmon said. "It's a game and you should have fun, but the most fun I ever had was winning.
"You practice to win, not to just play the game. One of the kids came in this week and that's one of the first things he said. That's a statement we stand for.''
Last year's hero was Gaffney quarterback Malcolm Long. The week before, he led the Indians to their second straight Class AAAA Division II state championship with a win over Irmo.
The night before the North-South Game, he was named Mr. Football.
Two nominees for the award are on this year's North team -- Chester's Gene McCaskill and Whitmire's Michael Ruff. This year's winner was Blythewood's Richard Mounce, who reports for Shrine Bowl practice today in Spartanburg.
The North-South Game is often a scoring battle, but points have been down in recent years as the state's defensive players continue to get bigger, faster and better. The South's 3-0 win in 1989 was the last shutout in the series until 2006.
"Our defensive front is the strongest part of our team,'' Sechrist said. "We have big, quick players up there who can really move their feet. Our linebackers also have good size and are mobile.''
The South will operate out of the spread and wing-T offenses. Sechrist said he picked those sets because he wants balance and the weather near the beach can change at the blink of an eye.
He also put in the wing-T after getting a closer look at his two smallish running backs, Beaufort's Adrene Byas and Myrtle Beach's Eddie Jones. Byas is listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Jones at 5-8, 165. The personal stats on each might be a stretch.
The North is also strongest on defense. Lewisville's Antwan Robinson, Chester's Terrell Springs and Great Falls' Jeremy Simpson are in the secondary rotation. Clover's Tré Turner is at defensive end.
Blackmon's team will spread the field and run out of the set. Clover's Chris Douglas will get his share of carries. McCaskill, selected as a wide receiver, began taking snaps at quarterback Wednesday. Blackmon said McCaskill could end up there in certain situations.
The other North quarterbacks are Laurens' Seth Strickland and T.L. Hanna's Tyler Brennan.
The South will go with two quarterbacks, Strom Thurmond's Aramis Hillary and Hanahan's John Carnell.
"This has been a good week, and we are proud of the kids we brought down here,'' Blackmon said. "There are a lot more players who deserved to be picked, but you can only take so many.
"We've got talented players, but this also might be the best group of kids I've worked with. They take their hats off when we go inside. They hold doors open for people not associated with the game. This has been a good experience for all of us.''
60TH SCADA NORTH-SOUTH ALL-STAR FOOTBALL GAME
• When: Player introductions, noon today; kickoff, 12:30 p.m.
• Where: Brooks Stadium, Conway
• Tickets: $15 at the gate; Children under 7 admitted free with an adult ticket-holder, maximum two children per adult ticket-holder.