Former Myrtle Beach offensive line coach Chris Hamilton had a theory about current head coach and former offensive coordinator Mickey Wilson.
Before leaving for Lexington last offseason, Hamilton used to jokingly accuse Wilson of trying to build an offense that didn't utilize a single lineman. During his time with the Seahawks, Wilson has scripted some odd formations, but he hasn't eradicated linemen - yet.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise, considering Wilson was the quarterback of a flag football team that won a national championship during his college days at Coastal Carolina. It was a version of basketball on grass, and Myrtle Beach's offense has taken on the same look over the last six years.
"Probably the most fun I ever had was playing flag football," said Wilson, thinking back to the days when the spread offense started to become a personal fascination. "I learned a lot playing flag football in terms of pass routes and stuff."
Wilson is the architect behind one of the state's most explosive offenses, but he has faced many challenges as a first-year head coach this season. In advance of the biggest game of his young head coaching career, Wilson joined The Sun News for a Q&A this week (answers are edited for clarity and brevity):
Q. You were named Conway's quarterback over the returning starter in 1989, leading to the racial boycott. What did you learn from that experience?
A. You learn a lot of life lessons when you go through something like that. I think when you go through them, you're not quite sure what they are at the time. You learn who your friends are. You learn a lot about football in a community and how important it is. That made me mentally tougher as a person. ... I think the best thing I did personally is when I came out of it, I wasn't bitter at all. When stuff like that happens, you just have to push yourself through it.
Q. You started college playing football and ended it playing basketball. How did that happen?
A. I went to Charleston Southern to play quarterback. They moved me to receiver about halfway through the season, and I didn't care for that too much. I decided to come back home and walk on at Coastal Carolina to play basketball. I played for Russ Bergman and Michael Hopkins. I was a gym rat growing up. My dad was a coach his entire life, so I enjoyed basketball. I enjoyed football, too. I love both of them.
Q. Were you ready to be a head coach?
A. I've always enjoyed just being a play-caller. That's always been my passion. I really wasn't pushing to be a head coach. I just concentrated on being a good offensive coordinator. Whenever you do that, opportunities like this present themselves. I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
Q. What have you done to put your stamp on the program?
A. I don't think I've necessarily done anything different that's major. Basically everything is the same. Scheme wise it is no different whatsoever. I don't really know if anything is different. I put gold stripes on the helmets (laughing), but we pretty much do the same things.
Q. When you were building the spread offense at Myrtle Beach, what teams and people did you study?
A. I took bits and pieces from everybody. The offense that I really studied was Texas Tech's Air-Raid offense. There was also Valdosta State, and Hal Mumme was at Kentucky. I was a big Kentucky fan. That sparked my interest a little bit. I used to record their games on VHS tapes - that makes me feel old now that I say that -and see what they did. Those guys were throwing it 50, 60 or 70 times a game. It just seemed fun. I'm a basketball guy, too, and it just seemed like basketball on grass.
Q. How did you develop a strong bond with Everett Golson?
A. I think the best thing that ever happened with Everett looking back was when he was in eighth grade we let him play JV. I actually went up in the press box on Thursday nights and called plays. In between series, I'd get him on the headsets. ... I think doing that in eighth grade kind of established a good relationship between us. ... It accelerated his development as a football player. He knows the offense so well now that it's scary. He reminds me of stuff we used to do, and he'll ask, 'Why don't we do this anymore?' Sometimes I don't even remember it.
Q. What is best and worst about being a head coach?
A. The best part is going to practice everyday and working with the kids. That to me is so much fun. ... [The worst] is having to wear so many hats. There is so much you have to oversee. You're dealing with players and parents. That's not a bad thing, but there is just so much you have to deal with that sometimes it can be overwhelming, especially doing it the first year and having a baby right in the middle of football season. Don't try that at home.
Q. You've always enjoyed calling plays and directing the offense. Is coaching any less enjoyable now that you can't do as much of it?
A. I do miss that at times. I miss that a lot. I miss being up there and seeing everything in the press box. You can see the world up there. You can see how to attack the defense. That's always been my passion, but at the same time, it's been fun being on the sideline. Being part of the excitement down there and next to the kids has been fun.
Q. You're an Horry County native. Do you foresee yourself as being the head coach at Myrtle Beach for a long time?
A. I don't think you can say, 'In 10 years I'm going to be here.' I don't think you can look at it that way. You just take it day by day. The Lord has a plan for you and whatever happens, happens. I'm very happy here. I've enjoyed this ride and working at Myrtle Beach High School for the last 10 years. I don't foresee myself leaving, but you can never say never. When you're successful, you're going to have opportunities. When those opportunities come, you have to look and see what they are about and make good decisions based on your family and what's best for them.
Q. What's been the most rewarding part of this season?
A. Just seeing it all come together at the end. We talked all year about peaking at the right time and playing our best in the months of November and December. To see that actually come together and see that play out has been very rewarding.