More than an hour before kickoff Friday, the play clocks at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium flashed “8”.
Over and over again.
Default re-start setting? Yes. A reminder that Myrtle Beach star receiver Adam Randall, donning his No. 8 jersey, was about to have another big game? Always possible.
But for everything Randall and senior quarterback Ryan Burger have been able to accomplish, for all the noise the two future NCAA Division-I football players have made, the long-term potential of this team gets so much better with performances by a player coach Mickey Wilson hoped would develop this year.
Sophomore tailback Malachi Washington delivered against Hartsville, rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns and hauling in four passes for another 47 yards. It was shades of some of the team’s best seasons, when the expected spread passing attack is bolstered by a strong running back who can do a bit of everything.
“When we have a back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, it just makes us so much more dynamic,” Wilson said. “He’s a great young man. He’s gotten so much better. I’m so proud of him. He’s been working his tail off, and he had a great football game.”
Myrtle Beach steamrolled Hartsville, and diving into the numbers from the 47-14 victory, it was easy to see Washington was one of the biggest reasons why.
In total, he touched the ball 29 times (25 carries, four receptions). Of those, 11 resulted in first downs or touchdowns. Conversely, he was stopped behind the line of scrimmage just three times the entire game, including once when the team was just attempting to burn up some clock midway through the fourth quarter.
Although Washington had a 100-yard rushing game against lowly Darlington in September, Friday was every bit the breakout game for a player who had all of 54 rushing yards last season and is now among the Top 10 ball carriers in Horry County.
It’s safe to say that Washington was feeling it after the postgame scrum.
“To be real, it’s another game in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” Washington said. “We practice hard for the whole week so we can show out on Friday.”
Washington is, as it turns out, quietly helping to dispel the misnomer of Myrtle Beach’s offense is a pass-only team. This season, the Seahawks have rushed the ball nearly 174 times in five games, compared to 122 passes.
That’s actually usually how it is for Wilson’s offense. Of the last four seasons in which Myrtle Beach has reached at least the lower state championship game (2020, 2019, 2018, 2015, 2013), only 2018 included a season in which the team passed more than it ran. In most seasons, the Seahawks put just as much of the onus to move the ball on its rushing attack.
Washington proved he could handle the workload against Hartsville. Those 25 carries were a career high. He picked up all those yards, and just as importantly, he didn’t fumble.
If he continues that trend, opposing teams will have no choice but to look beyond just No. 8.
Entering Week 8 of the SCHSL calendar, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Aynor, Loris and Green Sea Floyds have all clinched playoff berths. As many as three local Class 5A teams can join them this week if the right combination of game scenarios takes place.
In shorter form, Socastee can punch its ticket with a win over Conway and Carolina Forest can do the same if it beats Sumter.
As for the aforementioned five teams, they are all working toward better playoff seeding in the final three weeks of the regular season.
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
Seven of the nine Horry County programs will be in action this week, with only Green Sea Floyds and St. James taking the week off. The Trojans moved their previously scheduled region contest against Lake View to Oct. 29 so fellow Region V-A team Timmonsville — which has missed most of the season due to quarantines — can play all four of its necessary region games.
Aynor (4-1, 2-1) at Loris (3-4, 2-1)
North Myrtle Beach (4-2, 2-2) at West Florence (4-2, 1-2)
Wilson (1-4, 1-2) at Myrtle Beach (4-1, 3-0)
Conway (1-3, 0-2) at Socastee (1-3, 1-1)
Sumter (5-1, 1-0) at Carolina Forest (3-3, 1-0)
Open: Green Sea Floyds (4-1, 2-0), St. James (3-2, 1-1)