The face of Myrtle Beach High School football has a different look today.
Scott Earley, who guided the team to the 2008 Class AAA state championship, resigned as the school's football coach on Thursday to take the head coaching position at another South Carolina high school.
``Scott Earley announced that he will be resigning as of May 1 to accept a position at Chapin High School in Lexington County,'' Myrtle Beach Principal Nona Kerr said. ``He announced it to his football team [Thursday] at 2 o'clock, and during that announcement we also announced our new head football coach for the 2009 season and that is Mickey Wilson.''
Earley said he would not be available for comment until Monday, when The State newspaper is reporting the Lexington School District 5 Board will vote to approve Earley's contract.
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According to The State, the Chapin position had been available since Feb. 26, when Larry Grady resigned following an investigation into ``inappropriate'' behavior involving a student.
The move to Chapin could represent a large salary bump for Earley. A 2008 analysis of statewide coaching salaries reported Earley as receiving $52,716 for his duties, which included assistant athletic director, with the Horry County school district. According to the report, Lexington 5 school district paid Grady $92,208 for the combined positions at Chapin.
Earley compiled a 72-29 mark in eight seasons as the Seahawks coach, including last season's 14-1 campaign highlighted by a 31-21 win over Chester in the Class AAA title game.
Earley interviewed for the Spartanburg head football coaching position in December of 2007. Earley eventually withdrew his name from consideration for the job, but he was never officially offered the position.
Wilson had been the Seahawks' offensive coordinator since 2001, Earley's first year as the school's head coach. Wilson started his coaching career as an assistant at Conway, then became the quarterbacks coach at Carolina Forest when that school opened before moving to Myrtle Beach in 2001.
``I feel great about it and at the same time I feel bad about it,'' said Wilson, who is also a physical education teacher at Myrtle Beach. ``Scott is a great friend of mine. He has done a lot for these kids and Myrtle Beach. But at the same time it is a great opportunity for me.''
Despite Wilson's lack of head coaching experience, Kerr said Wilson was the obvious choice for the job.
``[The decision to hire Wilson] is based on No. 1, when you have a program that is already an effective program and you have a quality staff as we felt that we did, you can stay in house and hire from within,'' Kerr said. ``You can retain continuity in your program. And the athletes are comfortable with it, there is a comfort level there. Another reason is at this time of year, we needed to move, and you are not going to get quality candidates now. Plus we felt that we had the most qualified candidate right there in our own school.''
Wilson played high school football at Conway and was embroiled in the school's 1989 boycott season, when he replaced a black teammate as the starter at quarterback, a move branded as racism by some in the community. But Wilson finished his career at Conway with 1,717 passing yards, third all time at the school.
Despite his success as an assistant, Wilson never set his goal to be a head coach.
``When Scott called me eight or nine years ago, I told him all I wanted to do was call plays and win a ring, and that was my goal. Fortunately we did that last year, that worked out,'' Wilson said. ``Now that he is leaving, this opportunity came up. Since I came to Myrtle Beach, [a head coaching position] wasn't something I was striving to do. I just wanted to be the best offensive coordinator I could be. But if you do that, these opportunities come about.''
Wilson inherits a state championship team that lost a lot of its key contributors, but returns heralded rising junior quarterback Everett Golson as well as receiver Morgan Byrd, tight end Steven Cobb and running back Daiquone Ford. Wilson also inherits a schedule that he describes as ``one of the toughest in the state.'' That slate includes a five-game stretch of: at Byrnes, at Dillon, at Hartsville, at Conway, and home vs. Lake City.
Wilson's first order of business will be accompanying Golson to an Elite 11 combine in Athens, Ga., this weekend. A good showing by Golson on Saturday could earn the Seahawks star an invite to the prestigious Elite 11 camp in Southern California for the top senior quarterbacks next summer.
The Seahawks start spring practice on May 11.
Wes Streater, who had been the team's receivers coach, will take over the offensive coordinator role for the Seahawks, although Wilson said he will still be involved with the offense.
Wilson does have one game of head coaching experience under his belt. He was the acting coach during a Seahawks loss several years ago when Earley was suspended for one game.
``I don't want to claim that at all,'' Wilson said.