Mickey Wilson stood in front of a group of his fellow coaches, some media and others at the CNB Kickoff Classic luncheon and pleaded that his offense was struggling.
Lining up and punting, the Myrtle Beach coach said, might be the team’s best offensive weapon.
The comment drew rolling eyes and chuckles from his coaching peers. Moments later, North Myrtle Beach’s Perry Woolbright quipped “I hope we’re as bad as you guys on offense.”
The Seahawks, two years removed from a Class AAA state title and a 2011 in which they scored 36 points per game, aren’t going to get much sympathy this season.
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“The biggest thing for us is we’re struggling up front,” Wilson said. “We have four new faces on the offensive line. Every day, we’re having growing pains. These guys are going to be a good group come November.
“We just had a bunch of seniors on the offensive line. That’s just one of those things. That’s the great element of high school football. You’re going to graduate some, and you have to replace them. Right now, we’re figuring that out for sure.”
Yes, Wilson is replacing three regular starters from his offensive line. But, no, it isn’t like Myrtle Beach is devoid of talent outside of the trenches.
Quarterback Tyler Keane takes over full-time at the position after splitting time with C.J. Cooper a year ago. Cooper has moved to receiver, and Keane will have a chance to improve on his solid junior numbers. He threw for 1,588 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 59.7 percent of his passes.
And Cooper will be only one of his targets. There’s also returning players Trell Harrell (475 yards, nine touchdowns last year), Malik Waring and tight end Sean Michael Orcutt (146, three). Malik Pryor and Max Huggins will also join the mix.
In the backfield, Chocolate Wilson, Carolina Forest transfer Dajour Wilson and freshman Brandon Sinclair will split time.
“I think with our receivers coming back, it helped us get into more of a rhythm,” Keane said. “I think we’ll be good. We’ll improve on last year and hopefully score more points.”
Considering what the defense is looking like, that could be bad news for everyone else.
Linemen Tyler Knox, Trey Vivian and Kerry Chestnut are gone. However, the Seahawks may have the best back seven in the area. Senior linebackers Orcutt and OT Thomas represent the team’s top tacklers each of the last two years. Thomas missed most of 2011 with various injuries, but he’s back to 100 percent and ready to make the tandem a dual threat.
A secondary that consists of cornerbacks Chocolate Wilson and Jack Mongomery, Harrell at free safety and converted linebacker Renard Pointer at strong safety will make passing against Myrtle Beach that much tougher. It will also give defensive end Lazarus Johnson and tackles C.J. Robinson (the lone returning starter) and Markyl Grissett time to adjust.
Point being, there may not be a huge drop-off from the defense that allowed just 12.3 points per game.
Once again, that figure and more will be determined in large part to what the Seahawks are able to do against another top-notch non-region slate. Myrtle Beach will play five opponents from the higher class prior to the start of Region VII-AAA competition.
“I think playing these AAAA schools just makes you better,” Mickey Wilson said. “Win, lose or draw, we’re playing AAAA football for five weeks. I don’t think you can put a price tag on that. It makes you play a game at a high level.”
Myrtle Beach, which hasn’t lost a region game since 2008, should again be the favorite to win the league. By that point, the coach hopes his team is up to its normal, high-flying speed.
“I think it’s a definite work in progress. We’re a limited in what we can do because our line is so young,” Wilson said. “There may not be a game early in the year where we have a full playbook. At some point, we’ll get to the point where the complete playbook is in hand.”
That thought alone is reason enough for the preseason eye-rolling.