South Pointe stars still solid to USC commitments despite rumors

MYRTLE BEACH -- The weather was absolutely beautiful at Myrtle Beach on Tuesday, and coaches who attended the two SCADA North-South All-Star Football Game practices were stripping off jackets, sweatshirts and toboggans to beat the heat.

It's supposed to be the same today, except the local TV weathermen are calling for rain. They're also calling for the temperature to reach the mid-70s, something you folks back home in the tri-county area haven't seen for some time.

But the players making up the North and South teams are not concerned with weather forecasts. Their minds are on practice and beating the other's brains out on Saturday.

South Pointe defensive back DeVonte Holloman had a slight distraction. He and teammates Charles Holmes, also in the North-South Game, and Stephon Gilmore are committed to South Carolina.

A rumor has been making the rounds that Gamecocks defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is leaving for another coaching job.

"I talked to him and he told me it's not so," Holloman said. "His leaving would affect me and Stephon because we play defense. Charles is a wide receiver.

"But Stephon and me are still firm with South Carolina. Both of us are happy about going there and playing together."

They played together just one season, this one, and it was one for the history books. In just their third year of varsity football, the Stallions beat Northwestern 35-14 in the Class AAAA Division II state championship.

And it was almost the last game for Holloman, who will play in the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando in January.

"No matter which game for South Carolina picked me, this one or the Shrine Bowl, I wasn't going to play," he said. "I didn't want to miss a week of school because I'm graduating at the end of the first semester.

"But coach (Bobby) Carroll said I should because the North-South is a fun game, with lots of stuff for the players to do. He's always straight with us, and I'm glad I took his word. It's been great."

• ALMOST GONE: Carlos McCoy, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound wide receiver from Columbia's A.C. Flora, is getting to share his final game with his coach, Robin Bacon.

McCoy said it's an honor, while at the same time a bittersweet ending to his high school career.

Bacon, the North's defensive backs coach, recently resigned at Flora. Bacon said stepping down does not mean he's finished with coaching, that he'll look at other opportunities and not rush a decision.

McCoy said he found out before the rest of his Falcons' teammates when Bacon pulled him aside and shared the news.

After he explained it to me, I understood his decision,'' McCoy said. "He was my coach for four years and I can't imagine playing for anyone else.

"Who the next coach will be has the returning players worried. They won't have their coach back and don't know what to expect. The next coach will come in and work hard. But there's only one coach Bacon.''

There is another. His brother, Bill Bacon, is the coach at Dreher. Their annual game was dubbed "The Bacon Bowl.''

• DREAM SEASON: Matt Smith said playing in the North-South Game is like a dream come true.

Smith is a 6-1, 245-pound defensive lineman at Myrtle Beach High School. Last Saturday night, Smith and his Seahawks teammates journeyed to Clemson and beat Chester 31-21 in the Class AAA state championship game.

"I was hoping all of this would happen,'' Smith said. "How many players get to win a state championship, then come back home and play in an all-star game in their stadium?

"I have a lot of good memories from playing in Doug Shaw Stadium. We only lost one game all year, 14-13 to Lake City in the sixth game of the season. I'm not saying a loss is good, but it fired us up and showed us we were not unbeatable. We were No. 1 at the time and I think some of our players thought nobody could touch us.''

• ANOTHER HONOR: Lancaster's Bennie Murray, Northwestern's Jimmy Wallace, South Pointe's Carroll were among the head coaches watching Tuesday's practice.

They made quite a group, as far as wins go. South Pointe was 15-0 and won the Class AAAA Division II title. Northwestern was 13-2, losing twice to South Pointe. Lancaster ended up 11-4, losing twice to Northwestern, to South Pointe and to Rock Hill (11-3), which, like Lancaster, made it to the semifinal round of the playoffs.

Carroll's Stallions were nationally ranked in most polls and the honors have been pouring in for the team and his players.

The latest came last weekend, when South Pointe was named the recipient of the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission's 2008 "High School Football Team of the Year" Award.

"Never heard of the organization in my life until they contacted us," Carroll said. "But any award that honors our team, we'll take it."