The only bright spot for the Myrtle Beach football team was their shiny new helmets on Friday night.
Sporting the new headgear and an automatic No. 1 seed in the Class AAA playoffs, the Seahawks came up short against North Myrtle Beach as the Chiefs came away with a 14-11 victory to snap Myrtle Beach’s 17-game winning streak dating back to a four-point loss to Socastee on Oct. 11 of last year.
Despite a loss in the regular season finale, the Seahawks (9-1) will enter the playoffs in the driver’s seat.
“The biggest thing is we didn’t play well tonight. We didn’t make plays,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “We had some drops on offense, we didn’t tackle well and didn’t play particularly well tonight and when you do that – you’re going to lose. But the good thing about it, it doesn’t affect us. We’re still a No. 1 seed in the playoffs and we need to get to work on Monday.”
Meanwhile, Chiefs first-year head coach Blair Hardin was ecstatic that his team walked away with a win and a likely spot in the the playoffs as the No. 3 seed out of Region VI-AAA.
Hardin said his team came in with a simple gameplan.
“They played with toughness and pride and that’s what we talked about all week,” Hardin said. “[Myrtle Beach] is a very good team, [they are] extremely well-coached and very explosive. We had a simple gameplan. We wanted to play with toughness and pride and we did that. It’s a good feeling.”
Myrtle Beach senior receiver Kyle Belack caught a 14-yard touchdown from quarterback Drayton Arnold with a little over three minutes left and Arnold completed the two-point conversion pass to Malik Waring to cut the Seahawks’ deficit to 14-11.
After North Myrtle Beach went three-and-out on the next drive and was forced to punt, Myrtle Beach’s Kelton Greene was tackled inside the Seahawks’ 5-yard line with under a minute left.
Myrtle Beach moved past the 50-yard line, but the Chiefs stopped the Seahawks from advancing any further to seal the win.
“The kids just made plays and it was a team effort,” Hardin said of stopping Myrtle Beach’s final drive. “Our coaches did a good job all week putting our kids in position to be successful offensively and defensively and they did just that. We knew [Myrtle Beach] would make plays, but our kids battled.”
In the meantime, Wilson was upset that his kids couldn’t eke out a win just before the playoffs.
“We want to win every week, no doubt about it. We just didn’t make plays tonight,” he said. “We had some opportunities, we came on late and played well at the end with a chance to win it but we just didn’t play well all night.”
Arnold finished 23-of-38 passing for 279 yards with an interception and a touchdown to finish the season with 2,552 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Belack, who transferred from Carolina Forest before the season, finished the game with nine receptions for 114 yards.
Seahawks running back Brandon Sinclair was held to 87 yards on 19 carries, but Sinclair exited the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury.
“It’s not the way you want to go into the playoffs, but at the same time maybe it’s a great lesson for us,” Wilson added. “I hope our kids take it that way and we’ll go play the first round with a chip on our shoulder.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs (4-6) were paced by quarterback Ronnie Bass, who rushed for 67 yards on 15 carries and passed for 84 yards on 6-of-11 passing.
Halfback Cullin Mitchell also had a big night, rushing 12 times for 80 yards and catching two passes for 28 yards.
“They’re a good team and they made plays when we didn’t. Wilson said. “My hat is off to them, they played a good ballgame.”
The Chiefs could have possibly walked away without a playoff spot, so Friday night was a must-win for North Myrtle Beach, which gained significant momentum entering the playoffs.
“It’s confidence. We weren’t very consistent at the beginning of the year and I think the kids have showed confidence and it has paid off,” Hardin said. “We’re going to the playoffs and we have to step up like we did tonight.”