By John Smithson
The year 2020 has been the year most want to forget. High school sports had already been dealt a bad hand when spring sports were cancelled early last March due to the many unknowns surrounding COVID-19. As schools cancelled classes for the year, disappointed athletes in all sports waited to see what might happen in the fall.
During the summer North Myrtle Beach High School fall sports teams waited and watched to see what the South Carolina High School League would do. Preparations were started then stopped until finally all teams found out their shortened schedules for the fall.
The NMB Chiefs football team was no different than most and when the players and coaches boarded the buses for a trip to Hartsville last Friday it was the beginning of what they hoped would be a new winning season and a chance to better last year.
With rain across the region Friday, some thought the game at Hartsville might not be played at all. Yet the rain ended, and the Chiefs began preparations for their game against the third ranked Red Foxes. While not attending the game in person, I took advantage of the Chiefs broadcast over NMBChiefs.com.
So, I joined the many Chiefs devotees who could sit in their living room and listen to Wayne White and Tyler Watkins and their excellent coverage of the game. The video quality was excellent and the game itself was even better. The Chiefs, they said were ranked behind the home team but it didn’t seem that way at first, as the Chiefs led 2-0 after the first quarter and despite a great performance by Dariyan Pendergrass for Hartsville, still led 23-21 at halftime.
The second half was even better for North Myrtle Beach. Their defense shut out the Red Foxes and kept Pendergrass from any significant run, while they added 17 points to win their first 6AAAA region game.
It was a team effort that featured the Chiefs benefitting from six Hartsville turnovers, most of which led to Chiefs points. If a Chiefs offensive drive stalled, there was always a Zane Smith punt dying deep in Hartsville territory or one of Smith’s long kickoffs to keep Hartsville returners from doing any damage.
As the fog rolled in during the game, it made it harder to see some of the action and impossible for Hartsville to mount any kind of challenge. That bus ride back must have been fun, except perhaps for the bus drivers navigating the fog.
With the 40-21 win, North Myrtle Beach solidified themselves as a team to beat going forward. This Friday the Chiefs take on South Florence in their first home game of the season. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and seating will be limited to under 1,000 fans. Tickets will not be sold at the gate but can be obtained online at GoNMBchiefs.com.