Myrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson isn’t normally one for hyperbole, but one glance at his team’s treacherous path to a league or state title in the newly reformed Region 6-4A and he couldn’t help himself.
“Now our region is like the SEC,” said Wilson, comparing the new-look Region 6-4A to the top college football conference in the country. “Hartsville, Darlington, Marlboro County, Wilson, and then North Myrtle Beach. That’s a tough stretch against some really good teams, but that’s what we want. That’s how you get better.”
Region and state championships are the standard for the Seahawks, who fell short of those goals last season by finishing 7-5, falling in the second round of the playoffs and snapping their streak of three straight region titles. But Myrtle Beach returns a talented and experienced team to restore the championship tradition in 2018.
“We have a lot of guys coming back on both sides of the ball,” Wilson said. “There are a couple of positions where we’re not as experienced and sometimes you worry about depth, but that’s part of high school football. I feel good about where we are going into the season, but we still have a lot of work to do to get better as a team.”
The Seahawks return nine starters on offense, if you include split-time quarterback/wide receiver Luke Doty. In sharing time at quarterback with two-year starter Lawson Cribb last season, Doty completed 65 of 105 passes for 703 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also caught 35 passes for 391 yards and five TDs, and rushed for 250 and a score. With Cribb’s graduation, it’s Doty’s show this fall.
“We want to get out to a strong start, win some games early and carry that momentum into the playoffs,” said Doty, who verbally committed to South Carolina just weeks before the season’s kickoff. “We have a lot of goals we want to accomplish and we’re excited to get started.”
Doty is surrounded by weapons, including all-region running back Jermani Green, who tallied more than 1,300 yards of combined offense and scored a team-high 23 touchdowns for the Seahawks last season. Despite his diminutive stature, Green can carry the load on offense and pull double-duty at cornerback on defense.
“I don’t listen to it. I just come out and work hard. Every time I hear someone say I’m too small, I just come out and push myself harder than I did yesterday or last season,” said the 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior. "I feel like we’re capable of winning a state championship as long as we come out, work hard, listen to coach and win some games.”
Doty also has receivers Da’Ron Finkley (55 receptions, 883 yards, 11 TDs), Marcus Grissett (64 catches, 966 yards, seven TDs) and Wyatt Roache (26 catches, 331 yards). The offensive line returns four starters, led by senior and Furman commit Evan Jumper.
Myrtle Beach also gets nine starters back on defense, led by linebackers Shedrick Pointer (92 tackles), Michael Brown (86 tackles) and Salim Sessions (76 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and defensive linemen Will Walton (72 tackles), Chris Brown (44 tackles), and JB Favorite (42 tackles, 3.5 sacks). Defensive backs Gary Salters (37 tackles) and Austin Randall will anchor the least experienced unit in the secondary.
The Seahawks face another tough schedule this year, beginning with a home opener against Hanahan on Aug. 24. They face a daunting midseason stretch against Conway and Hartsville, and the North Myrtle Beach rivalry has been moved back to the final week of the season in a showdown that could have major playoff implications.
“We’ve always played a tough non-region schedule to get ready for the region and the playoffs, and now we’re going to have an even tougher region schedule,” Wilson said. “At least we will be battled-tested for the playoffs.”