Myrtle Beach players have been beat over the head with the same mantra since a late-night bus ride home from Columbia last Dec. 7.
“It’s a hard lesson to learn, but 2013 is over,” Seahawks coach Mickey Wilson said. “I don’t want to call it a championship hangover. But we, and coaches included, have to look at this season something completely separate from 2013. Every once in a while, we have a bit of complacency set in. It’s nothing major, but it’s something we can’t let creep into our program.”
By now, everyone knows Myrtle Beach and its talented group of youngsters added an improbable seventh state championship to the program’s coffers. They were allowed to celebrate with an assembly, a trip to the South Carolina Statehouse and then again when the title rings were presented.
Outside of that, though, Wilson’s duty has been to repel any thoughts of an automatic repeat.
Never miss a local story.
In the coming weeks and months, fans will see how well that message stuck. Because if the Seahawks are going to put together another deep playoff run – and possibly a trip back to Columbia – there will have to be a mental acumen matching what the players have already proved they have physically.
It’s part of the reason quarterback Drayton Arnold said he and the players are dissecting some of their mistakes rather than their successes.
“As a team, it’s good for us to look at what we didn’t do well, whether it was last year or last week. It lets us know what we need to fix,” he said. “The things we did right, you want to continue them. But the mistakes on and off the field, that’s what you want to fix.”
Myrtle Beach will have the pieces in place to put up some big numbers and even bigger victories this season.
In addition to Arnold – who came on strong in the final six weeks of the season and threw for 30 touchdowns overall – the Seahawks will return virtually all of their skill positions players. That includes the area’s leading rusher in Brandon Sinclair and receiver Kelton Greene. Malik Waring, another returning weapon, will be moving to tight end.
Carolina Forest transfer Kyle Belack will also be catching passes on the outside after leading the area in receiving yards last season as a Panther.
“The thing that’s really neat about this group is we’re really explosive in all five of our positions,” Wilson said. “We’re as explosive as we’ve been in a while. In terms of pure speed, we’re as fast as we’ve ever been at Myrtle Beach.”
Having all that at his disposal has Wilson and his Myrtle Beach team atop many people’s preseason Class AAA polls and listed as a favorite to win the championship again.
But as expectations rise, the Seahawks are doing their best to stay grounded and fend off the commentary from outsiders.
“I don’t listen to what people have to say,” Arnold said. “I didn’t listen to it when we were 1-3. I didn’t listen to it when we won the state title. What the coaches say is what we care about. What we say to each other is the most important thing.”