Victory Bell tolls for rivals, friends Jordan, Wilson

The annual Conway-Myrtle Beach football rivalry, known as the Battle for the Victory Bell, has a lot of history. So do the two coaches.

Longtime Conway football coach and athletics director Chuck Jordan hired a basketball coach by the name of Mickey Wilson Sr., in 1984.

The basketball coach’s son and namesake, then a scrawny ballboy for the Tigers, grew up to become head coach of the hated Myrtle Beach Seahawks a quarter-century later.

Mickey Wilson Jr. will lead his undefeated and No. 10 nationally ranked team against his alma mater and Jordan’s fired-up 4-1 Tigers in the Backyard on Friday night.

“I hired his daddy and he moved the family here,” Jordan said. “If you’re in coaching long enough you never know who you’re going to run into down the road, but I’m not surprised to see Mickey doing well there. He was always such a fierce competitor.”

Jordan saw that quality in Wilson in 1989, when he named him his starting quarterback and touched off a firestorm in the Conway community. Moving a starting senior QB, who was black, to another position didn’t sit well with many and a boycott by most of the black players put Jordan and Wilson through a difficult 1-10 season together.

That’s when the mutual respect was formed that still exists today despite the rivalry.

“It was a difficult time for everybody, but Mickey was put in a position that was not his doing,” Jordan said. “He had to deal with it and Mickey was a tough kid, but it was hard. I think he’ll tell you he experienced a lot of personal growth by going through it.”

Wilson concurs: “Coach Jordan has always been a mentor to me and I’m very thankful for him. Anytime you go through a situation like that it makes a closer bond with the head coach. I pull for those guys all the time … except when they play us.”

And that one day a year comes tonight when Wilson’s high-flying offense and highly touted defense take on the Jordan’s Tigers and do-it-all QB Mykal Moody, who has rushed for 10 touchdowns this season and thrown for nine.

The junior was injured and did not play in last year’s loss to the Seahawks, their fourth straight win in the storied series. But no matter which one ends up with the Victory Bell in their office, the respect will remain.

“It’s all in fun. We have a good time with it,” Wilson said. “Friday night we’ll try to beat each other’s brains out for a couple of hours and then we’ll shake hands and go back to being friends.”

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