The Myrtle Beach Seahawks (10-4) have taken an unlikely path to the Class AAA State Championship, where they will face the top ranked Daniel Lions (14-0) on Saturday, December 7 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia at 3 p.m.
After a dismal 1-3 start, the Seahawks rebounded to earn a shot at what would be the seventh state football title for Myrtle Beach High.
"We haven't done anything any different. We've just gotten better. Our young kids have gotten better. Our older kids have gotten better, and the ones who were inexperienced, it's just been fun to watch them grow and mature with everything coming together in November. Our goal is to play our best football in November and December. Fortunately, right now we're doing that," Myrtle Beach head coach Mickey Wilson said.
Super sophomores Drayton Arnold and Brandon Sinclair get most of the headlines. Arnold has thrown for 2,170 yards and 23 touchdowns. Sinclair has been the Seahawks workhorse on the ground with 1,886 yards and 18 trips to the end zone.
There is no shortage of skill players on the Myrtle Beach roster. Wide receivers Kelton Greene and Malik Waring have been almost unstoppable during a playoff run that includes wins over Berkeley, Crestwood, Strom Thurmond, and Marlboro County.
While the offense has averaged 28.78 points a game this season, it has been the defense, under coordinator Jason Owens, that has turned the most heads in recent weeks. Myrtle Beach pitched a 35-0 shutout against Berkeley in the opening round, and held powerhouse Marlboro County to only six points in the Class AAA Lower State Championship game.
6'3" 240 pound defensive lineman Heath Gray is the unsung hero on a physical Seahawks squad that really hit their stride during a four game playoff run. Gray has 79 tackles this season, with five sacks.
Also on the defensive front, Cordell Brown has stepped up his game. Brown leads the team with 9.5 sacks. Junior Shyquan McCray chipped in with 6.5 sacks this season to help a defensive front that has improved with each week.
Malik Pryor leads the linebacker corps with 137 tackles.
The Seahawks secondary has become one of the best in the state. Kelton Greene and Jayden Grayer have combined for 10 interceptions this season.
Despite making it to the Class AAA finals, Myrtle Beach did not have a single player selected for either the Shrine Bowl or North-South All-Star game.
Myrtle Beach won state championships in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 2008, and 20010. Daniel, located in Pickens County, has won five state titles. The Lions last one came in 1998.