Youthful Seahawks looking to celebrate like it’s 2008

mbfoot-22andarnoldThere have been many great games at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium over the years.

Myrtle Beach’s 56-55 thriller against Conway last season certainly rings a bell. The Seahawks played some wild playoff games with Strom Thurmond back in the day. But one stands above them all, and now it’s time for a Lower State Final rematch exactly five years and one day later vs. Marlboro County.

Rewind to 2008, when Myrtle Beach’s first state title in a quarter century. But the Seahawks barely made it to the state championship game because of a hard-fought 51-50 double-overtime victory over the Bulldogs. For the 6,000 or so fans who braved the chilly weather and big crowds, it was well worth it.

The similarities to this year’s team are uncanny. Myrtle Beach had a young sophomore quarterback by the name of Everett Golson who came of age during that playoff run. This year’s starter, sophomore Drayton Arnold, has done the same during the Seahawks’ postseason surge to make the Lower State Final.

The 2008 Seahawks also had a balanced offense with a strong ground game (see current sophomore Brandon Wallace) and a questionable defense, which was burned for 521 yards and 50 points that chilly night in 2008. But both Myrtle Beach teams also had a bend-but-don’t-break attitude that served it well.

So it’s hard not to think back to that crazy night that saw seven lead changes and required two extra periods to settle. The Bulldogs went for 2 after their last touchdown, a chance to end it on one play. Given their success it was a smart gamble, but the Seahawks sniffed it out and moved on to Columbia.

More than any other comparisons to the 2008, this year’s Seahawks share a remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. Despite a 1-3 start, they have won seven straight, including back-to-back wins over No. 1 seeds on the road in games in which they trailed at halftime. That’s the mark of a special team.

These young Seahawks were in middle and intermediate school when the 2008 squad went all the way, but they must have learned a few things from that team. In football, the ability and mentality to not get down and never give up are important ingredients for building a state champion, and this team has it.

The big question for this year’s Myrtle Beach team is not “if” but “when”. It’s obviously a team with enough talent and tenacity to win it all, but are they ready for it this year, or is this the season that sets the table for the future? A month ago I would have said the latter, but now I’m not so sure.

One more similarity to 2008 still rings true; beating Marlboro County will be no easy task. The Bulldogs are fast, talented, aggressive – all the things you look for in a Lower State champ. But the Seahawks keep finding ways to win and improving each week, so this one should be another classic.

Myrtle Beach will have to put some serious points on the board to keep pace with the Bulldogs, and the defense is going to have to find a way to get to quarterback London Johnson, who scored six TDs against Socastee last week. Just like 2008, I like the Seahawks’ chances. … Myrtle Beach 34, Marlboro County 31.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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