MYRTLE BEACH — The dates still stand out for Max Huggins.
April 13, 2011 is when he broke his right ankle playing soccer for Myrtle Beach. One week later, April 20, he had screws and a metal plate inserted during surgery.
He didn’t kick a football again until just before fall practice of his junior season. What he did between then and October, though, landed him a spot in the SCADA North-South All-Star Football game, which will be played Saturday at his home stadium, Myrtle Beach’s Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
Huggins was one of two kickers selected for the game, a de facto honor that essentially defined him as one of the top three at the position in South Carolina.
It helps cap of a big senior year in which he scored 79 points for the Seahawks and had 41 punts for a 39.4-yard average.
“We just had strong special teams,” Huggins said. “I think that was the reason we beat a lot of those AAAA teams, especially when they were a little bigger, a little faster.”
Myrtle Beach finished the year 10-2 with wins over five Class AAAA teams. The Seahawks fell in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs to Hanahan. But not before Huggins showed he could improve on a better-than-average junior season.
With his ankle full healed, Huggins connected on 43 of his 49 extra point tries and 12 of his 17 field goal attempts. More impressive was that he got stronger the further out he was. He was four-of-six from 40-49 yards and hit a season-long 57-yarder in the regular-season finale against North Myrtle Beach.
The kick appeared good from at least 10 yards. And even at that distance, Huggins said he wouldn’t have been shocked.
“In practice, I’ve hit 65-yard field goals plenty of times,” he said. “I was glad I got the opportunity. I got a perfect snap, a perfect hold and I hit it perfectly. I was glad I got the opportunity to show off how strong my leg can be.”
The North-South selection seemed appropriate, but there’s a solid chance it won’t be the end of Huggins’ field-goal kicking days. The Myrtle Beach senior has been in contact with both South Carolina and Clemson, as well as a number of Football Championship Subdivision schools. He hopes to have a definitive offer as a preferred walk-on to one of the two bigger programs by January.
For now, he’ll enjoy this week.
And have the date of a happier milestone to keep in mind.
Player bounce back
Sixteen players participating in this week’s North-South festivities had a quick turnaround following championship weekend.
That includes two players each from state title winners Gaffney (Class AAAA, Division I), Greenwood (Class AAAA, Division II) and Hartsville (Class AAA), as well as a single player from Dillon (Class AA, Division I) and Bishop England (Class AA, Division II).
Additionally, Class A, Division I champion Christ Church, which won its title Nov. 23, has linebacker Asheton Hinton in town this week. The only state title team without North-South representation is Cross, which defeated McCormick to win the Class A, Division II championship.
State runners up Dutch Fork, Northwestern, Union County, Abbeville, Fairfield Central and Johnsonville also have either one or two players each taking part in North-South.
It’s one of the more talked about portions of the first few days of North-South each season. There are plenty of players from opposing teams, be it the regular season, opening rounds of the playoffs or the state title game itself.
For instance, Hartsville receiver Trey Gattison and tight end Cory Wiedrich this week will be on the same sideline as six players (including Socastee’s Adam Crane) from teams the Red Foxes defeated en route to a 15-0 record and that Class AAA title.
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.