Much like it did a year ago, Myrtle Beach made sure what appears to have been its lone home game of the playoffs counted.
Now it’s time to see if the Seahawks can have another game like Friday’s on the road.
Coach Mickey Wilson’s team hit Berkeley early and often, and eventually beat the Stags 35-0 in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs. The win advances Myrtle Beach to next week’s game at Crestwood, one of the Lower State’s top seeds.
The Seahawks showed, at least for one night, they may be better prepared to extend their season than they were in 2012.
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“We’ve been doing this all year,” sophomore Brandon Sinclair said. “We just haven’t put it all together. Now that we finally put it together, everybody is noticing what the Myrtle Beach Seahawks are really made of.”
The Seahawks’ victory over Berkeley was never in doubt. Sinclair, the area’s leading rusher, returned after missing the regular-season finale against North Myrtle Beach with a rib injury to rush for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Drayton Arnold, the quarterback who helped bring Myrtle Beach come back from two touchdowns down, had 214 yards passing by halftime against the Stags, adding two touchdowns of his own.
He used five different receivers in the first half, overwhelming Berkeley time after time. His only bad pass early was an interception he threw while forcing a pass into the end zone.
Not that the pick hurt.
The Seahawks (7-4) led 14-0 at the time, and Arnold went on to complete all eight of his second-quarter throws for big yards.
“It’s a big relief,” said Sinclair, who earlier this season was being used as options Nos. 1 and 2. “Drayton shows up and throws the ball. I come up and run the ball. It’s hard to stop.”
Myrtle Beach’s dominance was just as apparent on defense.
The Seahawks also stymied Berkeley (5-6) quarterback Joseph Dress and his trio of tailbacks – Jamal Bowman, Joshua Sellers and Jonathan Washington. The four players accounted for just 32 rushing yards in the first half.
Dress was able to contribute only another 18 yards through the air.
Add in a special teams touchdown off a blocked punt, and the Seahawks did exactly what they needed to.
“In the first half, I really felt like we played well across the board,” Wilson said. “That’s what we’ve been waiting for all year, to put everything together. We did that coming out of the gate.”
Myrtle Beach won a similar first-round game last year after securing the No. 2 seed from Region VII-AAA. The Seahawks defeated Manning 43-13 before losing the next week to 34-26 to Hanahan. Wilson believes his team will have a better shot this time around.
It certainly won’t be easy. Crestwood (9-2) won a tough Region VI-AAA to earn a pair of home games and then defeated Brookland-Cayce 34-20 to open the postseason Friday. Still, Myrtle Beach won’t be going into this game empty-handed.
“I think our kids have got a lot of confidence now,” Wilson said. “We’ve won six out of seven. I think our kids’ confidence is up. It’s all about match-ups. We’ll have to see what Crestwood looks like on film and how we match up with them. It will be a big ball game.”
Said Sinclair: “We’re ready for anything that comes up against us. We’re going to be ready for Crestwood next week.”
MB – Brandon Sinclair 6 run (Sean Huggins kick)
MB – Hunter Starbeck punt block ret (Huggins kick)
MB – Sinclair 1 run (Huggins kick)
MB – Graham Vaughn 51 rec from Drayton Arnold (Huggins kick)
MB – Jaden Grayer 19 rec from Arnold (Huggins kick)
RUSHING—B – Joseph Dress 3-17; Jamal Bowman 13-35; Jonathan Washington 5-29; Joshua Sellers 1-1; Joshua Simmons 5-(-) 8. MB – Brandon Sinclair 24-109; Drayton Arnold 7-35; Dajour Wilson 1-2; Quan Luddley 3-8.
PASSING—B – Dress 8-19-1, 57 yards. MB – Arnold 15-19-1, 210 yards
RECEIVING—B – D.J. Witherspoon 2-5; Dylan Baker 4-21; Matthew Harkness 1-24; Conner Teague 1-(-) 1 . MB – Kelton Greene 4-52; Graham Vaughn 4-105; C.J. Finkley 3-2; Jaden Grayer 1-19; Sinclair 3-52