Myr­tle Beach wins 8th ti­tle in come-from-be­hind style

The Sun News - - Front Page - BY ALAN BLONDIN [email protected]­sun­news.com

Luke Doty and the Myr­tle Beach of­fense had to rely on their team­mates on de­fense and spe­cial teams to keep them close to Greer in the first half on Fri­day.

With the ul­ti­mate prize in high school foot­ball at stake, one of South Carolina’s most tal­ented quar­ter­backs and pro­lific of­fenses took mat­ters into their own hands in the sec­ond half.

Doty and com­pany sped up and heated up on a cool and over­cast day at Wil­liams-Brice Sta­dium, erupt­ing for 27 sec­ond­half points to lead the Sea­hawks to a 37-21 win in the S.C. Class 4A state cham­pi­onship game.

“I don’t think (the ju­bi­la­tion) can be put into words, you know what I mean. I guess the one thing I can say is man, it’s amaz­ing,” Doty said. “Just play­ing in this sta­dium, play­ing in this en­vi­ron­ment with my guys, and just com­ing back big and get­ting a win in this sta­dium, just to bring a tro­phy back home to Myr­tle Beach means a lot to us. It’s very spe­cial.”

The win gave Myr­tle Beach (12-1) its eighth state ti­tle and first since 2013, and capped a try­ing sea­son that in­cluded two can­celed games and three weeks of in­ac­tiv­ity be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Florence and sub­se­quent flood­ing, and an added week at the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son, when the Sea­hawks were drubbed 70-34 at the hands of top-ranked Hartsville.

“It’s been a crazy year,” said Sea­hawks head coach Mickey Wil­son, who won his third state ti­tle in his 10th sea­son lead­ing the pro­gram. “We had the storm and missed 3 ½ weeks of the sea­son, and we took a very tough loss to Hartsville in the last reg­u­lar-sea­son game and lost the re­gion (VI-4A) cham­pi­onship, so it’s been a lit­tle crazy. But our kids just han­dled ad­ver­sity ex­tremely well, and I know I’m a lit­tle bi­ased but we’ve got the best coach­ing staff in the state of South Carolina.”

The loss to Hartsville could have been the begin­ning of the end of the Sea­hawks’ sea­son, but they won three home play­off games to earn a re­turn trip to Hartsville and avenged that loss on the road last week in the state semi­fi­nals.

“We had to learn how to come to­gether when we were down,” se­nior de­fen­sive line­man Will Wal­ton said. “So we all came to­gether af­ter the game, and all the se­niors de­cided we’ve got to get it right, we’ve got to get the dream. So we went back in Lower State (play­offs) and turned it on.”

Af­ter be­ing held to 86 yards pass­ing on eight com­ple­tions in the first half Fri­day, Doty threw for two touch­downs and rushed for an­other in the sec­ond half to lead the Sea­hawks’ of­fen­sive on­slaught on the field he has com­mit­ted to play his home games on in col­lege.

In the sec­ond half, the junior com­pleted 16 of 22 passes for 158 yards and two touch­downs to se­nior Wy­att Roache for game to­tals of 24 com­ple­tions in 35 at­tempts for 244 yards, two TDs and no in­ter­cep­tions. He also rushed for a sec­ond-half touch­down. Myr­tle Beach ran 47 plays in the sec­ond half com­pared to 28 for Greer.

“We just came to­gether and started mov­ing the ball. That’s re­ally what it comes down to,” Doty said. “We got some tempo go­ing and got some good drives started early and fin­ished them off. We went with a lit­tle bit of tempo and we were able to have some suc­cess with it.”

Myr­tle Beach held Greer (13-2) to 238 yards of of­fense, in­clud­ing 51 yards on 21 car­ries by se­nior run­ning back and Shrine Bowl se­lec­tion Dre Wil­liams, who en­tered the game with more than 2,000 rush­ing yards this sea­son. The Sea­hawks had five sacks, in­clud­ing a to­tal of 3.5 by se­nior lineback­ers Salim Ses­sions and Michael Brown, and four in­ter­cep­tions of Greer quar­ter­back Matthew Huff by T.J. Aus­ton, Austin Ran­dall, Quamil Spells and Xavion Knox.

“We all knew (Wil­liams) was an ex­tra­or­di­nary player, but I feel like we have seen bet­ter,” Wal­ton said. “So we came up with a

‘‘ JUST PLAY­ING IN THIS STA­DIUM, PLAY­ING IN THIS EN­VI­RON­MENT WITH MY GUYS, AND JUST COM­ING BACK BIG AND GET­TING A WIN IN THIS STA­DIUM, JUST TO BRING A TRO­PHY BACK HOME TO MYR­TLE BEACH MEANS A LOT TO US. IT’S VERY SPE­CIAL. Myr­tle Beach quar­ter­back Luke Doty

game plan to gang tackle and we prac­ticed that all week, and we just knew for the se­niors it was our last time so it was win or go home. This is what we’ve been plan­ning on do­ing since we were lit­tle.”

Myr­tle Beach trailed 14-10 at half­time, and spe­cial teams helped the Sea­hawks stay close to the Yel­low Jack­ets with a blocked punt for their TD and good kick­off re­turn to set up their field goal that pulled them within four points just be­fore half­time.

Af­ter Greer got on the board first on a 34-yard touch­down re­cep­tion by Wil­liams, the Sea­hawks tied the game when junior Xayvion Knox blocked a punt near the end zone and junior J.J. Dent re­cov­ered on the goal line.

“We hadn’t blocked a punt in awhile, and we go af­ter them a lot,” Wil­son said. “So it was huge. We felt like on film we had a pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting that done. That was a great job there to get us seven points and get us on the board.”

Prior to Dent’s TD, a Myr­tle Beach punt pinned Greer at its own 15 and a sack shared by se­nior de­fen­sive end J.B. Fa­vorite and Brown forced the punt at­tempt.

Greer took a 14-7 lead on a 21-yard touch­down re­cep­tion by fresh­man re­ceiver Jaleel Skinner in sin­gle cov­er­age on a fade pat­tern to the left side of the end zone with just 47 sec­onds re­main­ing in the first half.

A 21-yard field goal by Chad Toone with 4 sec­onds re­main­ing in the first half pulled Myr­tle Beach within four points. A 15yard penalty for un­sports­man­like con­duct on Skinner for spik­ing the ball af­ter his touch­down pushed the kick­off back 15 yards and a good re­turn by Jer­mani Green set Myr­tle Beach up at the Greer 45 with 41 sec­onds left in the half. A 37-yard re­cep­tion by Green down the right side­line and 8-yard scram­ble to the 4 by Doty three plays later set up the field goal.

The Sea­hawks then took com­mand in the sec­ond half, scor­ing three touch­downs over a span of four min­utes in the third quar­ter on a Doty 5-yard run, Green 14-yard run and Roache 23-yard re­cep­tion.

Skinner got his sec­ond re­ceiv­ing TD on a 66-yard pass be­fore Roache capped the scor­ing on an 11-yard pass on a fourt­hand-9 play early in the fourth quar­ter.

“I think we were press­ing a lit­tle bit,” Wil­son said. “Of­fen­sively, we weren’t hav­ing fun. You know we have to have fun and at­tack. We came in at half­time and the de­fense was play­ing great, they played great all night, and we talked about, ‘Hey, man, this is right there, you’ve got 24 min­utes, let’s just have fun, keep at­tack­ing and get a win.’”

Myr­tle Beach’s eighth state ti­tle came in its 11th cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ance, and they have of­ten come in bunches.

The Sea­hawks first reached the Class AAA state cham­pi­onship game un­der coach Doug Shaw in 1975, los­ing to Clin­ton.

They reached the state ti­tle game five con­sec­u­tive years un­der Shaw from 1980-84, win­ning four ti­tles and fin­ish­ing sec­ond in 1982, and reached three straight ti­tle games from 2008-10 un­der coach Scott Earley in one sea­son and Wil­son in two, sand­wich­ing wins in 2008 and 2010 around a loss in 2009.

The Sea­hawks won their sev­enth ti­tle un­der Wil­son in 2013.

“It’s great for our play­ers and our coaches and our com­mu­nity,” Wil­son said. “I’m just re­ally, re­ally proud to be a Sea­hawk right now.”

JOSH BELL [email protected]­sun­news.com

Myr­tle Beach High School cel­e­brates af­ter it de­feated Greer in the 4A state cham­pi­onship Fri­day af­ter­noon in Columbia.

Myr­tle Beach

Myr­tle Beach quar­ter­back Luke Doty talks to the me­dia af­ter he led the Sea­hawks to the state cham­pi­onship Fri­day af­ter­noon.

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