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Warriors break ‘curse’, prepare for Dillon

The Waccamaw Warriors are officially in the playoffs.

Waccamaw grabbed their seventh win on the season at home against the Hanahan Hawks by a score of 36-11. Hannahan fell to 1-8 (1-4) on the season. The Warriors, 7-3 (3-2), will head to Dillon, 8-1 (4-1), as a three seed in the AAA playoffs.

“It meant a lot because I can’t remember the last time Waccamaw went to the playoffs,” said sophomore running back Jayvion Simmons. “It was kind of like a curse; I felt like we broke it.”

It’s been six years since the Warriors made it to the postseason.

“It feels better than I can even explain. It feels awesome,” senior Lineman Kyle Pence said. “It felt pretty dang good getting the dub. 36-11? Aw man, that’s again unexplainable and awesome. That’s exactly what I wanted.”

The eniors got the senior night they had hoped for as Waccamaw put up 479 total yards of offense, 243 passing and 236 rushing, and held the Hawks to 182 yards total. On the year, the Warriors scored 325 points, a team record.

“It’s a testament to these kids,” head coach Shane Fidler said of the achievement. “So I’m super happy for them and what they’ve done. They’ve earned it. Now they gotta go out there and get the job done in the playoffs.”

Junior quarterback Denson Crisler threw for 243 yards on 7-of-18 passing with three touchdowns to one interception. Junior running back Kaimon Skinner rushed for 135 yards on eight carries and a touchdown while Simmons picked up 85 yards and a score on six carries. Senior Tyree Funnye led in receiving with 117 yards on three catches with two touchdowns.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Warriors though. The team was plagued with penalties. Over 15 flags were thrown against the Warriors, many for unsportsmanlike conduct. Senior linebacker and captain, Walker Parler, was ejected from the game. 

Senior tight end and punter Markell Strang was reminded of last year’s matchup against the Hawks and remarked that the script was flipped this year.

“Last year, Hannahan was undefeated and it was the same, like they got 20 flags on them,” Strang said. “We just need to regroup and remember where we came from, which was 1-8 last year. So we gotta stay true to our roots and know that yeah, we’re doing good this year but we gotta keep going forward and keep winning.”

The first play of the day for Waccamaw was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Crisler to Funnye on a streak just twenty seconds into the game for the quick 7-0 lead. 

The first quarter was filled with flags as the offense couldn’t get much going.

“Offense, we started a little slow. Then we started picking it up. I feel like once the flags and stuff started coming in … it got us outta our game,” Simmons said.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Waccamaw was able to add to their lead. Skinner took a run off tackle and sprinted 59-yards to the endzone for six to get the 13-0 score.

After a punt from Hannhan, Waccamaw had a seven play, 37-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal by sophomore Jackson Forrest with 5:05 until half. Hannahan added a field goal of their own, 37-yards, after a 10 play drive to get the score of 16-3 with 1:24 left in the quarter.

Simmons returned the ensuing kickoff for 63 yards and Waccamaw scored on the next play, a 26-yard touchdown pass from Crisler to Kaisaun Grate in the corner of the endzone. The halftime score was 23-3.

The Hawks scored on their opening drive courtesy of a 60-yard touchdown pass down the seam by quarterback Jonathan Shelton. Shelton ran in the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 23-11.

Funnye scored on a 49-yard touchdown reception with 8:39 to go in the third. 

After a punt from the Hawks, Waccamaw’s next drive came with bad news as Skinner sustained a leg injury and wouldn’t return to the game. Strang was called out the punt and booted it to the one yard line, which forced the Hawks to punt. Another Strang punt put the Hawks to the six where they again punted.

“I’ve been working on punting towards the corner a lot this week. Seeing it pay off  made me really happy to see,” Strang said.

“That’s something that we emphasize all week is that we win the field position battle,” Fidler said. “They (the punting unit) did an awesome job putting us in a position to pin ‘em down there and not allow them to open up their offense like they wanna do.”

Simmons scored on the first play of the fourth quarter: a counter taken 36-yards to the house for the final score of the game.

The Warriors will face a tough task in Dillion this Friday.

“Going to the playoffs, it’s a big thing for us,” Simmons said. “We got to go back and correct our mistakes and work hard in practice.”

“You got to beat Dillon at some point if you want to be state champs so why not do it first?” Fidler said. “I’m happy for these kids and our team and our coaches and our community to go experience the playoffs. … we’ll go out there and prepare our best and do our best and see how far out there we can go.”

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