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Myrtle Beach's J.J. Jones weeps in the loss to Wren High School in the state championship game in Columbia on Saturday. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

COLUMBIA | Ryan Burger hung his head and answered questions.

Audibly difficult on himself, he shouldered much of the blame for Saturday’s 35-22 loss to Wren in the state championship. 

“We just couldn’t get going. It was my fault,” Burger said inside the visiting locker room at Williams-Brice Stadium. “I made some poor decisions. I’ve got to be better. I’ve just got to be be better. I thought we knew what they were going to do. We thought they were going to blitz a little bit and instead they dropped. Our receivers did a great job. I’ve just got to throw the ball better.”

Burger ended the night with 214 yards on 18-of-35 passing. He had a touchdown pass to J.J. Jones in the first quarter. His two interceptions came on long throws, including one with less than five minutes to go as Myrtle Beach attempted a comeback.

Still, Burger’s emergence in the last five games was also a large reason why the Seahawks were in Columbia to begin with. 

After throwing for 233 mostly garbage-time yards during the regular season, he blossomed in the playoffs. In those five weeks, he completed 56 percent of his passes for 881 yards and five touchdowns against just five picks.

“He was in a very difficult situation," coach Mickey Wilson said. "I thought he did a tremendous job. I’m sure he’s disappointed for us. We all are. But I think you’re seeing a young man who is going to be a great quarterback for the Myrtle Beach Seahawks moving forward. I think he’ll be able to take this postseason season moving into the preseason next year and it will be a valuable tool for him. He’ll be able to gain a lot of confidence from this.”

AND IT’S NOT JUST BURGER

Along with the quarterback, Myrtle Beach is going to be bringing back several key parts to a team that will almost assuredly find its way into the preseason rankings despite losing Luke Doty, running back Xayvion Knox, North-South linebackers Kenny Byrd and Shedrick Pointer and Shrine Bowler Quamil Spells.

Most notably, it starts with two receivers with NCAA Division-I offers.

Jones will be a senior, and Adam Randall will only be a junior. Those two players combined for 11 receptions for 162 yards Saturday and tallied 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019 despite missing a combined 10 games with injuries. 

Other players who may become household names include Ben Herriott, a running back who got three carries in Saturday’s loss, and kicker Sullivan Hardin, who will be in the running for all-star honors after a stellar junior season.

And, since it’s Myrtle Beach, the next standout is usually never that far away.

“We’ve got some [junior varsity] guys who were able to come up and practice with us for five weeks,” Wilson said. “You can’t put a price tag on that.”

CHAMPIONSHIP TRIP, BY THE NUMBERS

Wilson fell to 3-2 in state championship games, his other loss in the finals coming during his first season as the school’s head coach in 2009. The team previously won on the final day of the season in 2010, 2013 and last season. 

Wilson, 47, was attempting to join the 18 coaches in state history who had already won at least four state championships (since school integration and major SCHSL expansion in the 1960s). He is 121-27 all time in 11 seasons, and Myrtle Beach is 24-2 in the last two seasons.

Myrtle Beach was going after its ninth state title in program history, something only five other South Carolina programs have accomplished. 

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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