For everything that has been said about the Myrtle Beach football team’s early season schedule against some top-notch competition and what it means to how the team is playing now, the Seahawks playoff revival probably started to take shape before that.
As part of the team’s annual workout schedule, coach Mickey Wilson’s squad spent 12 sessions on the beach doing speed and team-building activities this summer. It’s not the first time coastal football teams have used the sand to their advantage.
It was, however, a new routine for Myrtle Beach.
“I kick myself in the butt for not doing it before,” Wilson said. “The beach is right here. It was good. It really worked the kids out. Especially in the soft sand, you get some good resistance.
“I think it did help with the speed aspect of it. Our program, we’re a year-round program these days. Every month of the year we’re lifting. I think our speed and conditioning program has been one of the best. I think that’s a big piece of the puzzle, especially late in the season.”
That may be an understatement.
Myrtle Beach (8-4), which plays at Strom Thurmond (11-1) on Friday in the Class AAA Lower State semifinal, has been a different team in the last five weeks. In that span, the Seahawks are 5-0.
In fact, since Myrtle Beach’s loss to Socastee on Oct. 11, the Seahawks have allowed just 35 second-half points and only 14 in the fourth quarter. Three opponents – Georgetown, Berkeley and Crestwood – combined for just seven points after halftime.
Against North Myrtle Beach and Crestwood, those defensive efforts after halftime aided significant comebacks.
Heading to the beach twice a week for a month and a half was suggested by first-year strength and conditioning coordinator John Sedeska. The Seahawks did speed drills, but also used obstacle courses and drill stations just off the 38th Avenue access point.
“You always have to be looking to do something to pique the kids’ interest,” Wilson said. “If you do the same old thing, the kids get bored with it.”
Wilson contends the beach-based workouts are only a fraction of the reasoning behind the team’s push in the last several weeks. However, it may be one of the most memorable.
After the Seahawks defeated Crestwood on Friday, linebacker Malik Pryor cited the workouts.
“We know we didn’t work hard in the summer and [go] to the beach every day for nothing,” Pryor said. “We worked hard. We did everything, you name it. Nobody else in South Carolina did it.”
Several Grand Strand athletes have or will make their college commitments official during NCAA early signing period, which opened last Wednesday.
Loris pitcher Tanner Chock will sign with Presbyterian Tuesday afternoon. The Lions hurler is coming off a big junior year in which he finished 9-3 with a 1.13 ERA and 124 strikeouts. He was a big reason Loris Class AA Lower State tournament.
On Wednesday, St. James’ Hannah Price (Coker) and Rebecca Prosser (USC-Sumter) will sign to play college softball.
On Monday, Conway Christian pitcher Chelsea Broughman signed with NCAA Division-II Mars Hill (N.C.).
Carolina Forest baseball teammates Robert Jolly (Clemson, catcher) and Ryan Flynn (The Citadel) signed with their respective schools last Thursday. They were joined by fellow Region VI-AAAA standout Grant Holmes (Florida) a day later.
The early signing period available for most sports wraps up Wednesday. Football’s National Signing Day for current seniors is February 5, 2014. That day also opens the signing period for soccer, track and field and cross country. The regular (late) signing period for the remainder of sports opens April 16, 2014.
All-Region VIII-AA football teams
Dillon’s dominance throughout the Region VIII-AA schedule was evident in the Wildcats’ five lopsided victories. Members of that team then reaffirmed it by sweeping offensive, defensive and coach of the year honors.
That list included running back Anthony Blue, linebacker Damu Ford and defensive coordinator Marty McIntyre, who has been dealing with the effects of his daughter’s cancer diagnosis this season.
However, Loris (10 players), Aynor (six) and Waccamaw (five) were also well-represented in the all-region teams, released last week.
Loris players on the team included: Ryan Bellamy, Quavon Bellamy, Stacy Dozier, Tyree Floyd, Devlin Gaskin, Jordan Hemingway, Levi Moody, Malik Vereen, Charoldric Williams and Bennett Winslow.
Aynor’s six players were Adam Doyle, Ryan Gee, Kamron Johnson, DQ Nash, Nathan Peeples and Louis Taylor.
Waccamaw’s Tyler Davis, Jabbrel Drayton, Justin Holmes, Jalen Simmons and Deandre Richardson also made the team.
North-South volleyball, tennis on tap
After deep runs in the Class AAA playoffs, the North Myrtle Beach and Waccamaw volleyball teams and the Myrtle Beach and Waccamaw girls tennis squads will be well represented in the annual North-South All-Star events later this week.
The Chiefs’ volleyball team, which lost to Pickens in the state finals, is sending two players to the all-star matches Thursday-Saturday at Erskine College in Due West. Seniors Marci Chestnut and Ellen Johnson helped North Myrtle Beach to the state championship game for the second straight season, and they are two of the 48 total players across South Carolina selected for the games.
The North Myrtle Beach duo will be joined by area players Sienna Herndon and Gabby Minervini, both of Waccamaw.
For the North-South All-Star tennis matches taking place Saturday at Greenville’s Kroc Center, Waccamaw will also have two players participate. Senior Catalina Carr and Lindsey Costin will join Myrtle Beach’s Jessie Dumas. Only 12 players are selected for that event.
Myrtle Beach coach Jeri Himmelsbach will serve as one of the two coaches for the South tennis team. The Seahawks fell in the Class AAA state title match to Travelers Rest.