Luke Doty had incredible shoes to fill coming into his junior season.
The 6-foot-2-inch dual-threat quarterback had to replace a wildly productive Lawson Cribb, who earned the 2017 Toast of the Coast Offensive Player of the Year accolade in leading the Myrtle Beach Seahawks to the playoffs. Doty filled in for an injured Cribb to start 2017, but would take a backseat for the good of the team, learning behind the veteran.
Fast forward to November 11, 2017 to find the day the Seahawks football program was fully entrusted to the 4-star quarterback, already committed to the University of South Carolina before becoming the full-time starter at Myrtle Beach High School.
To say the pressure was daunting would be an understatement.
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“Luke isn’t one of those kids you have to worry about,” said Mickey Wilson, Myrtle Beach’s head coach. “He is the first one in the weight room, the last one to leave. He organizes workouts and holds his teammates accountable. They look at him and see how hard he’s working and want to match it.”
With sky-high expectations, there’s no way Doty could live up to it, right?
All he did this season was lead the Seahawks to a 12-1 record, a Class 4A state title, hold his team together through an extended mid-season weather delay, and avenge the season’s only loss in dramatic fashion with a playoff win at Hartsville.
To hear Doty say it, any old quarterback could have done all of that.
“This season is really a testament to my teammates, I couldn’t have done any of this without them,” he said. “My offensive line was awesome all year, we have great skill guys on the outside and running the ball, our defense put us in great spots all year. Really, I just had to sit back and distribute the ball and not mess up too much.”
For Doty, not messing up meant completing 72 percent of his passes for 3,037 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also amassed 701 rushing yards and another seven touchdowns, much of that rushing production coming late in the year.
“What makes a kid like Luke so good is that he will do anything asked of him for the good of the team,” Wilson said. “Last year, he played a different position for us when Lawson (Cribb) came back from his injury. This year, we know he’s a great athlete, but we didn’t want him to take a bunch of hits in the regular season, so we didn’t run him as much. He accepted that from us as coaches, then turned on the running when we needed it most and carried us in the playoffs.”
Across the state, Doty’s name has been buzzing for more than a year. Following his first start for Myrtle Beach in 2017, the University of South Carolina offered Doty a scholarship, much of the reasoning being camps and 7-on-7 film. Doty committed to the Gamecocks and since that moment, he’s had a target on his back as a blue chip recruit with a lot to prove on the high school level.
“I didn’t feel any kind of pressure taking over in the offseason,” Doty said. “I trust the work that I’ve put in and know that my coaches are putting us in the best position to maximize our talents. All I had to do was show them they were right to put their faith in me.”
Throughout the season, there were highlights and some moments of clarity. He had a perfect passing game, 15-for-15 against Socastee, but struggled when facing a talented Hartsville team on the road in a de facto Region 6-4A championship game. Rather than waiting a full year to face the region foe again, Doty and the Seahawks used the loss as a turning point and vowed to topple the Red Foxes in the playoffs, doing so in dominating fashion. Then, rather than rest on his laurels, Doty led his team to his future home, Williams Brice Stadium, where he again slayed a giant to cap off a storybook season.
Now, he’s tasked with trying to improve on a nearly perfect first season as a starter.
“Looking at next year, we’ll have a whole new group in here and we will have to find ways to come together as a team,” he said. “A lot of our offensive production and line will have to be replaced, so we’ve already got our work cut out for us as we look toward preseason workouts.”
When asked about an encore, Wilson didn’t have much more to say his quarterback can accomplish, but can’t wait to see him try.
“Knowing Luke, I know he’s going to find some things to improve on,” he said. “I’m sure he’s got some goals in mind that he’s striving for, be that individual or for the team. He’s going to put in the time in the film room, weight room and on the practice field. We’ll just have to see how he can be even better as a senior.”
Moving into next year, the big shoes Doty will have to fill are his own, but his legend isn’t fully written yet.
Players, coach of the year
A tumultuous high school football season came to an end in mid-December with two area teams taking home state titles. Myrtle Beach earned a Class 4A title with its win over Greer, while Green Sea Floyds defeated Lamar for the Class A crown. While the Toast of the Coast Player of the Year, Luke Doty, was a runaway vote, the rest of the awards came down to the very last ballot of the area coaches and members of The Sun News sports staff.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jaquan Dixon, Green Sea Floyds RB
Jaquan Dixon averaged nearly 10 yards a carry for the Trojans, carrying the team to its first state title in his sophomore season. With 1,807 yards on the ground and a combined 27 touchdowns, Green Sea Floyds’ Dixon put the state of South Carolina on notice with his performance on the field.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: J.B. Favorite, Myrtle Beach DL
Call him too short or too slow for the next level, but there’s no doubt that J.B. Favorite made the most of his senior season at Myrtle Beach High School. The defensive end piled up 14.5 sacks on the season, including a six-sack effort in one game, to go along with 62 tackles for a dominant defense. He also brought home a state championship and participated in the North-South All Star Game.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Donnie Kiefer, Green Sea Floyds
Donnie Kiefer accomplished the unthinkable this season, taking Green Sea Floyds to the pinnacle of Class A with a state championship. Taking over a mediocre-at-best program in 2017, Kiefer has prioritized the weight room, disciplined football and hard work to turn the tide for the Trojans, who will bring back a wealth of talent to defend their Class A title.
QB MASON GARCIA, CAROLINA FOREST: As a junior, Garcia electrified the Carolina Forest offense, combining for 2,100 total yards and 28 TDs in an All-Region 6-5A season.
RB JERMANI GREEN, MYRTLE BEACH: Another season, another great output from the often overlooked Green. A two-time Toast of the Coast First Team running back, Green rushed for 1,184 yards and 20 TDs and caught 54 passes for 391 yards and another score.
RB NOAH SEAVER, AYNOR: Putting the cherry on top of his Aynor career, Seaver was the bellcow for the Blue Jackets with 1,201 yards and 17 touchdowns on nearly 200 carries.
WR JACKSON WEATHERWAX, CAROLINA FOREST: The sure-handed Weatherwax was often the target for Mason Garcia’s downfield shots, hauling in eight touchdowns and nearly 600 receiving yards.
WR DA’RON FINKLEY, MYRTLE BEACH: A key piece of the high-flying Myrtle Beach offense, Finkley produced highlight-reel catches on his way to 847 yards and 15 TDs.
WR MARCUS GRISSETT, MYRTLE BEACH: Back on the first team this year, Grissett nearly got to 1,000 receiving yards at 951 and found the end zone 11 times.
OL EVAN JUMPER, MYRTLE BEACH: A Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas selection, the Furman early-enrollee kept the Seahawk offense moving forward in a record setting season.
OL TREY DAVIS, WACCAMAW: A North-South All Star Game participant, Davis’ production for the Warriors was critical for an up-and-coming program.
OL TANNER COX, GREEN SEA FLOYDS: Paving the way for a potent rushing attack, Cox graded out at 93 percent with 15 pancake blocks in his junior season.
OL DARIN GOSS, CAROLINA FOREST: An all-region team member for the Panthers, Goss kept QB Mason Garcia clean while clearing the way for the Carolina Forest rushing attack.
OL WILL BRUNSON, AYNOR: Keeping in line with Aynor tradition, the Blue Jackets were wildly successful running the ball, thanks in part to Brunson’s play up front.
K CHAD TOONE, MYRTLE BEACH: Toone’s junior season saw him convert on over 97 percent of his kicks, going 5-5 on field goal attempts.
ATH KENNEY SOLOMON, SOCASTEE: The all-everything athlete for the Braves, Solomon scored touchdowns receiving, rushing, on kickoff returns and on punt returns.
ATH XAVIER KINLAW, CONWAY: The offensive weapon for Conway, Kinlaw had over 40 receptions and 40 carries this season, good for five touchdowns.
QB Cason McClendon, North Myrtle Beach
RB Ramsey Lewis, North Myrtle Beach
RB David Legette, Carolina Forest
WR Derrien Holmes, North Myrtle Beach
WR Tyree Funnye, Waccamaw
WR Jahrique Isaiah, Loris
OL Mason McCue, Carolina Forest
OL Travis Polson, Myrtle Beach
OL Kashawn Hannah, North Myrtle Beach
OL Nick Walters, Socastee
OL Malachi Black, North Myrtle Beach
DL TONKA HEMINGWAY, CONWAY: His second appearance on the Toast of the Coast First Team Defense, Hemingway took the brunt of the attention from opposing offensive lines and still managed 20 tackles for loss on the season.
DL JAVONTE TURRENTINE, LORIS: A Wofford signee who played both sides of the ball for Loris, Turrentine amassed 86 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and three sacks playing on the interior defensive line.
DL MARCELOUS LIVINGSTON, NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: A force on the Chiefs defensive line, Livingston made 64 tackles with 6.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
DL COVEA FERRIS, GREEN SEA FLOYDS: A senior for the Trojans, Ferris clogged the way for opposing offenses with 42 tackles and five sacks on the season.
LB SHEDRICK POINTER, MYRTLE BEACH: Leading the Seahawks linebacking corps, Pointer accounted for 108 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four interceptions and a defensive score.
LB MICHAEL BROWN, MYRTLE BEACH: Not to be outdone by his teammate, Brown had a stellar season of his own with 112 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a defensive score.
LB BRANDON SUMPTER, CONWAY: A key part of another strong Conway defense, Sumpter amassed 74 tackles, eight tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and five pass breakups for the Tigers.
DB KENNEY SOLOMON, SOCASTEE: A North-South participant and all-everything performer for the Braves, Solomon had a standout season on the defensive side with 31 tackles and two interceptions.
DB NASEEM HARRISON, NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: Starring on both sides of the ball for the Chiefs all season, Harrison ended the year with 53 tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception, forced fumble, and fumble recovery.
DB AUSTIN WERBA, ST. JAMES: Werba represented the last line of the Sharks’ defense and found his way close to 100 tackles on the season, with two fumble recoveries and an interception to his name.
DB ADAM JANACK, CAROLINA FOREST: Janack had a knack for turning over opposing offenses, with three interceptions and 43 tackles on the season.
P ZANE SMITH, NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: Averaging 37.5 yards per punt with three punts over 50 yards was enough to find Smith on his second Toast of the Coast First Team as a sophomore.
DL CJ Armstrong, Socastee
DL Chris Brown, Myrtle Beach
DL Sheek Green, North Myrtle Beach
DL Evan Grove, Waccamaw
LB Salim Sessions, Myrtle Beach
LB Jordyn Gillings, North Myrtle Beach
LB Bryce Crawford, Carolina Forest
DB Xavion Knox, Myrtle Beach
DB Anwain Graham, Green Sea Floyds
DB Quentin Livingston, North Myrtle Beach
DB Logan Marchase, Carolina Forest