In a game in which it lost by 21 points, North Myrtle Beach came out feeling optimism as the regular season ends and the playoffs begin.
Myrtle Beach, the unanimous No. 1 team in Class 4A and defending state champions, walked into the Hank Hester Sports Complex at North Myrtle Beach High School with a Region 6-4A title already under its belt and a perfect season in the works. The Seahawks (9-0, 5-0 Region) finished off the perfect season with a 35-14 victory over its rival, but coach Mickey Wilson wasn’t thrilled with his team’s effort.
“We didn’t play particularly well, especially in the second half,” Wilson said. “I’m proud of my team for showing the fight that we needed to win a game like this. It’s a rivalry game; we’re only about 10 or 15 miles away from each other. All of our players know each other; we’ve got a good football team and they do, too. Anytime you have a rivalry game like this, the kids are going to be excited about playing on both sides.”
With fans braving the cool temperatures to fill both sides of the stadium, Myrtle Beach came out swinging, scoring on its first drive with a strike from quarterback Luke Doty to his top receiving threat at the moment in Darius Hough. The “Rhino” package would also factor in the first half, with Wilson turning to the Xayvion Knox-led offensive package for three touchdowns on the night.
“Xayvion is such a good football player; some colleges that are close by here really need to start paying attention to him,” Wilson said. “He’s a heck of a football player and we like to get the ball in his hands. He plays with so much passion and intensity on the field and is a big weapon for us on offense, defense, and special teams. As much as we can get him involved, we want to do so.”
North Myrtle Beach would add a score in the first half on a 61-yard pass from Ramsey Lewis to Zyer Belle, but left plenty of opportunities on the field in the form of dropped passes and plays called back due to penalty.
“I’m proud of my team for playing their [butt] off tonight,” said North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel. “We dropped two touchdowns, so if we can execute those plays we’re looking at a 35-28 game and who knows what happens down the stretch. When you play good people like them, and they’re a really good football team, you can’t do things to help them out.”
The Chiefs (5-4, 1-4) end the regular season on a four-game losing streak, all in region play. However, they will still make the playoff field either as a No. 4 seed or an at-large team, meaning they will play on the road in the playoffs. Reel and his coaches were overwhelmingly positive in the postgame huddle because they see their team putting in great effort and getting healthy at the right time.
“I’m positive with our guys because we’re in the playoffs now,” Reel said. “Right now, we’re 0-0 and there are no rankings. If we can have a good week of preparation and focus on the task in front of us, there’s a good chance we can see (Myrtle Beach) down the road very soon. (Tonight,) we’re in the football game in the fourth quarter with the No. 1 team in the state. If we can do that against our playoff opponent, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.”
Myrtle Beach will have a different road in the playoffs, as it will host at least the first two rounds, should the Seahawks advance that far. For a team coming off a state championship, Wilson still shared the importance of taking care of business all week to put them in the best situation each week.
“The intensity goes up, the tempo goes up, and everything is accelerated in the playoffs,” Wilson said. “Luckily, we’ve got a lot of guys in our locker room with playoff experience who know what we need to do to have success. We are just trying to get better every day. I know that’s kind of a cliché answer, but it’s true for our program. We learned some lessons about playing on the road here tonight and it will help us moving into the playoffs.”
MB – 7 14 7 7 – 35
NMB – 0 7 0 7 – 14
MB – Luke Doty 31-yard pass to Darius Hough (Sullivan Hardin kick) 8:57
MB – Xayvion Knox 36-yard run (Hardin kick) 8:05
MB – Doty 21-yard run (Hardin kick) 00:56
NMB – Ramsey Lewis 61-yard pass to Zyer Belle (Zane Smith kick) 00:27
MB – Knox 21-yard run (Hardin kick) 3:42
MB – Knox 13-yard run (Hardin kick) 6:22
NMB – Malik Livingston 9-yard run (Smith kick) 2:29
MB – Luke Doty 17-25-168-1-1
NMB – Ramsey Lewis 12-28-193-1-1
MB – Xayvion Knox 9-103 3TDs
NMB – Ramsey Lewis 14-113
MB – Darius Hough 7-83 TD
NMB – Zyer Belle 5-98 TD