Wilson takes keys, drives Seahawks to 100th victory

Mickey Wilson vaguely remembers Scott Earley approaching him in April of 2009 and telling the then-assistant two things.

First, Earley was leaving after eight seasons, 72 victories and a state championship from the previous December. Second, Wilson was getting a promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach.

It was a rather unceremonious bump in title with little fanfare and no news conference. In the nine-plus football seasons since, Wilson has proved time and again production would be loud enough.

Friday’s victory at Marlboro County marked the coach’s 100th win at Myrtle Beach.

“I was very fortunate to walk into a built and successful program,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of like someone handed me the keys to a Ferrari. My job was to step on the gas. A lot of people would be worrying about wrecking it. But my goal when I first got the job was to attack.”

On Monday, the Doug Shaw Foundation and Myrtle Beach Booster Club threw Wilson a surprise party of sorts after practice to acknowledge the milestone. Players, parents and school administration joined to honor the coach for hitting the century mark.

The accelerated win tally has come with several key components — no mass turnovers on his coaching staff (three of his assistants have been with him since the beginning), support from the community and a strong feeder program.

Among other things, it has produced a number of his high-end quarterbacks, from Everett Golson to Drayton Arnold to Luke Doty this year. All the while, they’ve had their ultra-competitive quarterback-whispering coach in their ear.

“We’ve always had a great staff. Obviously he’s the leader. It starts at the top and trickles down,” said offensive coordinator Wes Streater, who started at Myrtle Beach in 2006. “He wouldn’t let anybody not do their job and always [inspires them] to do their best at it.”

Golson and Arnold queued state championships, and with Doty at the helm, the Seahawks are one of a small number of teams expected to compete for the Class 4A title this fall.

There have also been four region championships so far and plenty of memorable victories. Added up, Wilson has already etched his name alongside some of the best across the state.

Considered an odd non-move by some, he hasn’t used that to springboard himself to a better-paying job elsewhere. In fact, Wilson has only applied for one other position — at the request of a mutual friend — and he eventually withdrew from consideration prior to interviewing. It’s safe to say the Conway graduate and resident was happy right here in Horry County.

The rate of wins has slowed, but only slightly, in the past couple years. Last season’s 7-5 mark was the only time one of his teams failed to win at least nine games. Like Shaw, Wilson has avoided a losing record for each of his first 10 seasons, including this fall.

Wilson’s average of a double-digit victory total each year has him on a better pace than all but six of the top-25 coaches (in terms of overall wins) in state history. Wilson, 46, has routinely said he has no intention of coaching as long as some of those men, and on Monday he said that he still doesn’t envision being a head coach for even another decade.

However, winning has made him question some of those early notions of a short career.

“After a season gets over, I take a month or so and let my emotions calm down to see if I want to keep doing it,” he said. “This is something that requires a lot of time and effort. If you don’t love it, you don’t need to do it. I think because of the grind of coaching as hard as we do, it wears on you. At some point — I don’t know when — I’ll come to the end of a season and decide it’s time to stop.”

But not yet. And certainly not before he hit that major milestone last week.

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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