When you can throw the ball, you always have a chance.
That’s my mantra, at least. But let’s get this out of the way first: I’ve never played organized football; I’ve never coached organized football; I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with the football players in high school.
But this I do know: High school receivers can beat high school defensive backs, assuming you can get them the ball. Athleticism can trump technique at most levels, and that’s no more true than in the high school ranks.
When you have a guy like Myrtle Beach’s Drayton Arnold slinging the ball, all the better. And it’s why this Myrtle Beach football squad is never out of a game.
Seahawks senior wide receiver Jack Dixon seems to feel the same:
When the Seahawks pulled off their — and I don’t use this adjective lightly — epic, 52-49 comeback win over Hartsville Friday night, I looked around the newsroom and said: “Told you so.” For one, because I’m a know-it-all who always has to be right, but also because this is the second time in just three years the Seahawks have allowed me to validate my theory of opening up high school passing attacks.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Brandon Sinclair is one of the top tailbacks in Class AAA; his abilities as a runner allow the passing offense to operate more freely. And don’t forget the defense, which forced key turnovers that allowed for Arnold and Co.’s heroics. But when’s the last time you saw a team running an option-based offense recover from a 21-point second-half deficit? It’s certainly not a common occurrence.
The Seahawks have again caught lightning in a bottle. They did it two years ago, upsetting Strom Thurmond and Marlboro County before a then-sophomore Arnold led the Seahawks on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to defeat a well-favored D.W. Daniel in the Class AAA title game.
Arnold may have a new cast of receivers, but he hopes to do the same this year after upsetting last-year’s state runner-ups and the final undefeated team in Class AAA. Myrtle Beach heads to Midland Valley for Lower State finals this Friday, after the Mustangs defeated the Georgetown Bulldogs 27-12.
Whether Myrtle Beach has what it takes this year remains to be seen. But you can keep your read-options, your stretch runs and your quarterback draws. There’s only one play I need as I take in another week of exciting playoff action: Go long.
Deciding the champions
There’s just one more week of games before a whole bunch of college football teams file complaints.
Only four teams can make the College Football Playoff, and at this moment there’s a number of schools with a reasonable argument to be included. The most recent order was No. 1 Clemson (12-0), No. 2 Alabama (11-1), No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1) and No. 4 Iowa (12-0). None of those teams lost this past weekend, so odds are that order won’t change.
That said, here’s the list of teams playing in conference championship games on Saturday:
AAC: Temple vs. Houston, noon, ABC
Conference USA: Southern Miss vs. Western Kentucky, noon, ESPN2
ACC: Clemson vs. North Carolina 8 p.m., ESPN
SEC: Florida vs. Alabama, 4 p.m., CBS
Big Ten: Iowa vs. Michigan State, 8 p.m., FOX
Pac-12: USC vs. Stanford, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
So that makes three of the four teams currently in the rankings playing in (likely) must-win games. The Big 12 does not host a championship game, opting not to adjust from a system that probably played into their snub from the four-team field last year. At any rate, Oklahoma’s blowout of Oklahoma State should have served as a de facto title game, and being spurned this year would be the ultimate sign of disrespect for the conference.
▪ The biggest game of this slate has to be Michigan State vs. Iowa. The Spartans are currently sitting right outside the field, and whichever wins that game would be difficult to keep out.
▪ North Carolina may have a shot … maybe. If the Tar Heels can hand No. 1 Clemson its first loss, they have an argument, but there’s no guarantee any 1-loss ACC team is in the field.
▪ Stanford and Ohio State are the ultimate long shots. After a thrilling win over Notre Dame, the Cardinal are probably the only other team with a claim if they can beat Southern Cal in the Pac-12 title game. They’d probably need a loss from Clemson and/or Alabama and very questionable decision making from the CFP Committee. If Stanford loses, the Buckeyes would jump back into the discussion as well.
Area high school basketball teams begin their seasons this week, with many area teams being overlooked at the state level. Check out a full breakdown of area high school basketball teams here. … At the FCS level, the South Carolina bowl is still going to happen this week, despite Coastal Carolina’s loss to Liberty. The Citadel will travel to face Charleston Southern at 1 p.m. on Saturday, streaming live on ESPN3. … If you’re fed up of all things football, don’t fret: The Big 10-ACC Challenge will get you through the week. All 14 games will run from Monday-Wednesday and be broadcast either on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. According to the event’s website, the Big 10 took a narrow victory last year, winning eight of the 14 matchups. The ACC leads the all-time series 11-5.
“On Your Mark” is a weekly planning column, meant to preview the best of the week ahead in sports. Have any suggestions as to what should be included? Send your suggestions to email@example.com.