High School Football

Myrtle Beach, Marlboro poised for rematch

Those who witnessed last year's Class AAA Lower State Championship Game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium will never forget it.

Those who played in it cannot, especially since the same two teams will meet in a rematch of the classic game tonight.

After more than 100 points scored and 900 yards gained, and after eight lead changes and two overtime periods, only one point separated the two teams that night. Myrtle Beach beat Marlboro County 51-50 and went on to win the state championship.

"Our kids still remember it and we talk about it, but it was such a great game that it's hard not to talk about," said Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson, who served as offensive coordinator for the Seahawks (12-1) in last year's thriller. "But we know it's 2009, not 2008, and our kids know we can't live in the past. They've done a great job of staying focused on the present and on the task at hand."

The memories aren't so fond on the other side of the ball, but the Bulldogs (13-0) have tried to embrace them rather than erase them. The failed 2-point conversion attempt at the end of the second overtime that ended the shootout and brought tears to the eyes of the Marlboro County faithful last year has become a rallying cry for the team this season: "One Point, One Play, We Didn't Do Enough."

"That's our mottto. Our whole season has been based on it and now we've earned another shot at them," said Marlboro County coach Dean Boyd. "It was a great game all around. Even though we came out on the losing end, our kids left it all out there on the field."

After a year to recover, the same stars from that game are back for the rematch. Both teams boast third-year starting quarterbacks -- Marlboro County senior Elliott Alford, who threw for more than 400 yards and had a hand in all seven Bulldog touchdowns (five passing and two rushing) and Myrtle Beach junior Everett Golson, who passed for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

And they have their top weapons back from that game. Four of Alford's touchdown tosses went to Jaquan Brantly, who leads the team in receiving this season, and Alford and Josh Blue provide a nice 1-2 rushing punch. Golson welcomes back receivers Dallas Goodman, Jaquan Wilson, Donte Sumpter, Steven Cobb and Jerrod Jackson and the running back duo of Morgan Byrd and Daiquone Ford.

But for all the big names and big numbers, this game is likely to come down to the big men up front again. Although history shows last year's game came down to a failed 2-point conversion pass, the decision to go for the victory was based on fatigue on both lines.

"I've replayed it in my head and I wouldn't do anything different. I would go for 2 again," Boyd maintained. "We were dead tired, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, and I still think it was our best chance. If we were going to win it, we had to do it then."

The Bulldogs once again bring a heavy size advantage into the meeting, with the Seahawks' defensive front four giving up an average of 60 pounds per man to the Marlboro County interior offensive line, which includes four seniors and a junior.

"They've got some monsters up front and even though they run the spread they like to pound it at you to set up the pass," Wilson said. "Both sides have experience coming back so our guys are going to have our hands full. This game will be won in the trenches."

And the battle in the trenches will once again be won by heart more so than size, according to Seahawks defensive tackle Tevin Hunt.

"They were bigger than us last year, but we were in better condition," said Hunt, a 6-1, 210-pound senior defensive tackle. "Last year it all came down to who wanted it the most. We wanted it the most last year and we've got to go in with that same attitude."

The size matchups are close to even when Myrtle Beach has the ball, but only because the Bulldogs will employ speedy, 175-pound defensive end Jeremy Simmons to pressure Golson. Marlboro County has allowed just over six points per game with six shutouts.

"They're big and fast, but we believe we've got a strong group up front too," said Myrtle Beach's 6-0, 190-pound senior offensive tackle Lucas Britt, who will be matched up with 6-3, 325-pound senior Thomas Teal. "For us, it's all going to be about technique, technique, technique."

Especially since the Bulldogs plan to throw the kitchen sink at the Seahawks in an effort to disrupt their high-flying offense. They had moderate success against Golson last year, but he has progressed since then as evidenced by last week's eighth-touchdown performance.

"We tried to do one or the other last year, all-out blitz or drop eight in coverage, but we're going to try to mix it up more this time and disguise our coverages," Boyd said. "Our defense played well last year. That's hard to say when you give up 51, but we did and it just wasn't good enough. The key is going to be not getting worn down since we have so many blue-collar guys up front playing both ways."