Myrtle Beach tended to play it safe with Ryan Burger in the 2019 playoffs when the untested quarterback was rushed into unexpected duty.
Yeah, the reins are off now.
The Seahawk junior and his talented receiving corps made easy work of Region VI-4A foe Darlington on Friday at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, with his five first-half touchdown passes spurring a 69-0 victory in the season opener for both teams.
“[Having] a full offseason really helped,” said Burger, who transferred to Myrtle Beach from Waccamaw prior to his sophomore season. “Getting bigger and faster, learning the whole playbook.”
He definitely used a whole bunch of his weapons and got others involved.
In total, with Burger and two back-up quarterbacks getting time behind center, five different players crossed the end zone twice. Receivers Adam Randall, J.J. Jones and Raykwon Williams each did it, as did tailbacks Andrew Doss and Cam Ward. And after the delays and uncertainty affiliated with COVID-19, it was a welcome sight for a team with such high expectations.
The Seahawks entered the season as Class 4A’s No. 1 team in the statewide media polls. For the most part, they played like it.
“With having Adam Randall and J.J. Jones and Ryan Burger on the field, we have a chance to be very explosive. I think we know that,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “The thing we need to do is continue to fight to be consistent. Our running game is going to improve. Our offensive line is going to improve.”
The rest of Region VI-4A doesn’t exactly want to hear that Myrtle Beach hasn’t peaked yet. But anyone who watches this game on film will also see that the Seahawks got their share of help.
The Falcons were a mess on special teams — giving Myrtle Beach short fields throughout the first half — and only crossed the 50-yard line once before the game was well out of reach. Darlington, which last year fell to the Seahawks 67-0 and went 1-9 overall, saw roster numbers improve heading into 2020. But it was also clear the Falcons were still vastly overmatched against the defending Region VI-4A and lower state champs.
Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach’s offense has seemingly gelled around Burger, who took over the starting job when South Carolina Mr. Football Luke Doty’s prep career ended in the first round of last year’s playoffs with a hand injury.
Now, this is Burger’s team.
In a shade over two quarters, he finished 10-of-16 for 207 yards. He added 26 yards on the ground early while the offense shook off a bit a rust.
A very small bit.
As Myrtle Beach may find out again next week when it plays its only non-region game of the shortened season, it has the types of weapons to make up for its ills. The Seahawks had their share of penalties, botched an extra point that prevented standout kicker Sullivan Hardin from adding another point to his ever-increasing scoring tally and got away with a couple bad throws.
In the end, it didn’t matter to start 2020. Wilson’s bunch is good enough to navigate the accelerated timeline.
“We’ve got guys who can catch the ball underneath and take it the distance at any time,” Wilson said. “That helps us with that. I think the biggest thing is we’re just a work in progress. … Everything is at hyper speed now. You’re playing in your region. We’ve got to teach in a hurry. We’ve got to learn in a hurry. Everything is kind of ramped up.”