By Joshua Ford | Waccamaw Contributor
After a hiatus due to Hurricane Dorian, Waccamaw is preparing to face Military Magnet Academy at home on Friday. The team couldn’t practice during the week of the hurricane when they were scheduled to play Andrews, and that game won’t be made up.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had to deal with this now four of the last five years” head coach Shane Fidler said of the storms. “So we’ve gotten pretty good at scheduling this thing out, and getting information out to kids while we’re away from the storm. Our coaching staff did a good job putting film clips together and sending it out to kids so they can access it right from their phones.”
Fidler sees this game as an opportunity to correct the mistakes his team made from their game against Aynor, a 54-13 loss that brought Waccamaw’s record to 1-1. The 0-1 Eagles are a similar team to Aynor, so Friday’s game could turn into a sort of redemption game for the Warriors.
“They’re going to be tough, disciplined and physical kids and that is what hurt us against Aynor, so this is a chance for us to go right back out there, see that style again and see if we can answer,” Fidler said. “Everything happens for a reason and maybe we’re supposed to get a similar style of play to Aynor and see if we can correct our mistakes and see what we’ve learned moving forward.”
“We are trying to get our physicality back after we played a physical team in Aynor,” said middle linebacker Walker Parler. The senior leads the team in tackles with 20 total.
“We feel pretty good going into this game and the rest of the season because we realized that we can’t get caught up in one loss. We need to overcome that loss and move on,” said left guard Harrison Cooper.
Military Magnet is a team with a new head coach, Derrell Pringle who lead Denmark-Olar to a 5-5 record last year. The Eagles have made the region A playoffs the past three years, but suffered first-round exits each time.
“They’re not a stranger to what it takes to play in November and that’s where we want to be. So we’re looking forward to the challenge of them,” Fidler said. “I know they played North Charleston very tough (a 32-21 loss) and they’re the next team on our schedule. So we’re going to get a good measuring stick of where we are here this week.”
“I’m looking forward to this game because it’s a team we’ve never played before and we have a lot of respect for these guys because they are gonna one day be protecting us,” Cooper said of the Military school. “We have a great opportunity to go out there and get another win and make this community proud.”
The Warriors have gotten back to the basics this week and are hoping to clean up their mistakes so they can stay competitive.
“We turned the ball over and didn’t tackle well,” Filder said of their performance at Aynor. “Those are two things that we take pride in and emphasize during practice, and we as a coaching staff didn’t get what we expected out of our kids with that. So this week, we’re gonna make sure that we tackle, secure the football and block. Those are, to me, the three fundamentals of football.”
The O-line is a group that Fidler sees lots of improvement in.
“So far, on the offensive line, Victor Otubu and Harrison Cooper – two juniors, have really done a good job up front for us. We expect that to continue,” Fidler said. “All the offensive linemen are starting to get their feet under them which is awesome. That’s the most important group in the game of football.”
“The mindset of the O-line is simple: do your job,” Cooper said. “If we do that and execute and have energy, we can beat any team that we play. I look to contribute by just executing what our coaches have taught us and if we do that, we will be great.”
Running back Kaimon Skinner has had some fumble issues early, but Fidler is confident that he’s got it covered.
“Skinner has done a great job. He refuses to go down. You’re going to have to have multiple people bring him down so I’ve been real impressed with him so far. I’m excited to see him grow.”
Parler is a natural leader. He’s a ferocious tackler, and is doing his best to lead his teammates by example. The defensive captain missed most of the summer workouts due to his National Guard boot camp.
“Walker Parler has tackled everything in sight and that’s all you can want out of a middle linebacker and defensive captain is someone who can just go out there and just tackle everything he sees and he’s done that,” Fidler said.
“I try to coach up the underclass man and lead by example,” Parler said. “I have goals every game individually but the main goal is winning. We have to bring a headhunter attitude every game to be successful.”
Safety Scott Stephens is another defender that Fidler is counting on to play physical.
“He really turned it on this year,” Fidler said of Stephens. “He was a varsity starter last year as a sophomore and he kinda had a deer in the headlights look out there sometimes, but this year he’s brought some physicality to the safety position that we lacked last year and he’s really stepped up in that scenario.”
It’s all about execution come Friday night.
“We stack up well against them,” Parler said. “We just need to do our jobs.”
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