Everett Golson missed out on a golden opportunity.
The strong-armed Myrtle Beach junior quarterback long ago could have decided to take advantage of a receiving corps so deep it takes two hands to count them. He could have chosen to make his game-night passing decisions based on which receiver showered him with the best gifts.
Instead he chose the "straight-up" route.
"I think they have that trust in me," Golson said. "If they're open, they're going to get the ball. If they don't get the ball, maybe they aren't open."
While Golson laughed off the thought of maneuvering some early holiday presents out of his receivers, the group he has at his disposal is no joke. Heading into tonight's Class AAA Lower State semifinal against North Charleston, six receivers have already amassed at least 15 receptions, 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Only one, junior Donte Sumpter (57 receptions, 827 yards), has more than 33 catches.
It has done wonders for a Myrtle Beach passing game that lost the area's top weapon in Jamere Valentine after last season. In the process of adjusting to life after Valentine, the offense has proven it can remain high-octane without having a go-to receiver.
Instead, this year's Seahawks receiving corps is a collection of players that can thrash a defense at any given time.
"It helps us a lot because for the defenses, they don't have one guy to double-team. They've got to worry about everybody," said senior tight end Steven Cobb, who has 446 yards and eight scores through the air. "Last year, we had Jamere, and a lot of people tried to double-team him. This year, you can't really do that."
In deed, Valentine was a handful for opponents in 2007 and 2008. Last season, the current Georgia Southern freshman standout could have been considered option Nos. 1-4. In 2008 alone, he topped 1,500 yards and had 19 touchdowns receiving. After his graduation, the Seahawks were left wondering just who would fill his role.
As it turned out, there was an abundance of options.
There's Sumpter, whose route running gave Golson a sure-handed option early and often. There's Dallas Goodman, who has 33 receptions, 596 yards and six touchdowns. And, serving as the deep threat, junior Jerrod Jackson, who at 20.0 yards per catch leads the Seahawks.
Add to that group Jaquan Wilson (28 receptions, 352 yards), who Golson said has used his athleticism and speed to turn into another quality receiver in the past two months.
Given those possibilities, the seemingly toughest part of the equation might be keeping everyone happy. It's something, coach Mickey Wilson said, that turned out to be quite a surprise.
"We tell our kids: In this offense, you might play one night and get six or seven catches for 100 yards," Wilson said. "The very next week, you might get one catch for 5 yards. And the other person will do the same thing. It's a nice problem to have. But I think our kids understand some nights the tight end's going to be open; some nights the slot receiver is going to be open.
"That's something we do talk about -- understanding our offense is built that way."
Golson admitted that going from a Valentine-centered passing game to a well-distributed one has made him mature as a quarterback. Having all those receivers also allows him to look better; it is virtually impossible to lock in on a single receiver. Instead of searching for just one target, a quick flip of his eyes generally equates to seeing another receiver running open across or down the field. Making sure they all get their looks is part of the deal in keeping everyone happy.
"If they don't get the ball one week, they know it's coming to them the next," he said. "I just try to equally spread it out to them."
Apparently, even without some extra gifts.