High School Football

Bell tolls on rivalry between Myrtle Beach, Conway football teams

When Mickey Wilson graduated from Conway High School in 1991, he was every bit a part of the rivalry with Myrtle Beach.

As a senior, he helped the Tigers to a 14-10 home win, avenging a big loss from his junior season. Although some aspects of the rivalry - the focus on the two schools - are the same, others couldn't be more different.

Wilson, now the head coach at Myrtle Beach, has gone from playing for Conway's Chuck Jordan to coaching against him. Tonight will be Wilson's second time as a coach in the biggest regular-season game for the two teams.

"It's always going to be important on the Grand Strand," Wilson said. "It's like Clemson-South Carolina. You've got that whole year to brag.

"The fans look at it that way."

Who holds the Victory Bell - the postgame trophy given annually to the winner - is less about tangible showings and more about those bragging rights. For example, Wilson wasn't exactly sure where the award was placed in the hours after last season's victory.

But that doesn't take the luster off the rivalry.

Neither, Jordan said, does the fact that his former pupil is now his primary competition.

"I don't really look over there and see Mickey; I see another team that we're playing," Jordan said. "That's the mindset that I have.

"The fact that it's long-standing makes it important not just to the people involved in it today. Anyone who is alive is interested in Conway-Myrtle Beach."

The Conway coach points out how statewide media has continued to pay attention to the game. It's often a good sign of the Tigers' chances in Class AAAA and Myrtle Beach's in Class AAA.

The coaches, though, both come back to the history of the game in the area, specifically the ties of daddies playing daddies. Wilson played current Conway safety and kickoff return man Emmit Kelly's father, for instance.

The ties are also more direct.

Kelly Andreucci, the defensive coordinator at Conway, is also Wilson's brother-in-law.

Those connections can have an effect on the outcome of the emotionally-charged game..

"We seem to talk it up [more than other games]," Myrtle Beach senior offensive lineman George Kandris said. "It's always one of the biggest games of our regular season. ... We get more hyped up for Conway.

"Both teams want it bad, and it comes down to who wants it more."

It just so happens both teams are coming into tonight's installment of the rivalry on a bit of a football high.

Myrtle Beach, behind backup quarterback Mitch Campbell, beat a talented South Florence team with a late touchdown. Conway had its way with Marlboro County, the then-No. 3 ranked team in Class AAA, beating the Bulldogs 35-7 in the Tigers' best defensive showing this year.

Those wins certainly helped keep some of the hype around tonight's game, if for no other reason that one team, and possibly both, will be without its starting quarterback. Conway's Mykal Moody is still recovering from a minor ankle surgery, and a decision on Seahawks signal-caller Everett Golson will not be made until about an hour before kickoff.

The players who will be in uniform aren't worried one way or the other.

"To me, it's a big rivalry game because we're playing for something," Seahawks receiver Dallas Goodman said. "I don't plan on losing any time soon."

Ask the Conway players the same question, and you'll probably hear something very similar. That said, the Tigers are the ones trying to end a three-game losing streak in the series.

Tonight, they'll see if they get back on the winning side. And in the process, most of the football eyes in the area will be interested in the final score.

"It's one of those games," Jordan said, "that the entire community follows."