High School Football

5 keys for the Myrtle Beach Seahawks in Saturday’s opener at Byrnes

Myrtle Beach running back Jermani Green looks for room to run against Byrnes a season ago.
Myrtle Beach running back Jermani Green looks for room to run against Byrnes a season ago. jlee@thesunnews

1. Fear factor: Prior to last year, many teams found entering the hallowed gates of Byrnes’ Nixon Field rather intimidating. Not your biggest venue for high school football, it can certainly be one of its loudest — and the hometown Rebels play that to their advantage. This being the first taste of Nixon Field for a large share of those on the Myrtle Beach sideline, it is important to stay focused on the task at hand and not fall prey to the pageantry that is game day in Duncan.

2. Surviving the early wave: A season ago, Myrtle Beach ambushed visiting Byrnes by scoring the first 28 points of the game. The Seahawks did so in a variety of facets: returning an interception for a touchdown, blocking a kick in the end zone and recovering a fumble that led to a score. Trust that the Rebels — many of whom were part of last year’s beatdown — remember. With much of the youth on the Myrtle Beach sideline this year, don’t be surprised if the Rebels seek to return the favor.

3. Can the Seahawks soar past the Strike Force defense?: Byrnes has long referred to its defensive unit as ‘Strike Force.’ And despite the looks of giving up 26 points per game, it cannot be blamed for the Rebels going 3-7 a season ago and missing the playoffs for the first time in decades. The task for Myrtle Beach is giving quarterback Lawson Cribb time to throw, offering him a chance to take shots downfield at targets Chunk Grissett, Daron Finkley and Luke Doty.

4. Not the advantage you’d think: Byrnes will introduce new head coach Reggie Shaw to game day in Duncan on Saturday night. Name sound familiar? It should, because he led A.C. Flora to an upset win over Myrtle Beach in the first round of last year’s Class 4A playoffs. Simply based upon the result, it is obvious many of the buttons he dialed in during that game worked. For Myrtle Beach, the challenge is taking some of the knowledge gleaned from that game with the Falcons along with staying on their toes for any new wrinkles Shaw and his coaching staff will throw at it.

5. Yards after catch: More so than against any other opponent this season, Myrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson is preaching effort — rallying to the football, gang tackling and limiting yards after contact. Byrnes has a long history of fast, physical receivers and senior wideout Demarcus Gregory fits the mold. Standing 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds, he will be a tough matchup for either Marquez Gillespie or Jayce Allen. Don’t expect the rest of the secondary to receive any slack, the Rebels also featuring Jake Childers and Zy Young split wide.

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @JoeLHughesII

Week 1

Myrtle Beach at Byrnes

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Where: Nixon Field, Duncan

Series history: Byrnes leads 3-2 (Myrtle Beach has won each of past two meetings)

Of note: This is Myrtle Beach’s first visit to Byrnes since ending the Rebels’ 70-game home winning streak in 2011. ... While Mickey Wilson was there for that meeting six years ago, this is Reggie Shaw’s first rodeo as Byrnes head coach, making his debut before the home crowd at Nixon Field. ... Myrtle Beach will have two quarterbacks on the field at one time — Lawson Cribb under center for the Seahawks, with talented sophomore Luke Doty split wide at receiver. ... Speaking of receivers, Byrnes has a talented one in DeMarcus Gregory, one of the state’s top prospects.

Favorite: Byrnes