In a dark corner of one of the back rooms of Williams-Brice Stadium, Mickey Wilson collapsed into black leather chair, physically and mentally exhausted.
He was elated, but a long season, one complete with his second Class 3A state championship, had taken its toll. Thinking back to everything that went into it for his Myrtle Beach football team, how unimaginable this truly was not so long ago, was overwhelming.
He needed to crash, even if only for a few brief moments before his team caught its rowdy bus ride back home.
“I’ve watched so much film, it’s blurry,” Wilson said after the 24-21 win against Daniel. “It’s time to get some rest. … I’m going to try to get some full nights’ sleep for a change.
“Nobody thought we’d be in this situation. I’d be lying if, at times, I wasn’t so sure that I believe that.”
Myrtle Beach hit its low point when it was upended by Carolina Forest in September. After that loss, a dejected Wilson was short on words, repeating only that his team wasn’t very good.
Saturday night, it was a different story.
Kicker Sean Huggins’ 22-yard kick at the end of the fourth quarter was good, leading to the 26 text messages Wilson received by the time he made his way to reporters.
More messages were on their way. Thanks to one heck of a streak in the past two months, those were texts of congratulations.
The Seahawks (11-4) won their eighth consecutive game and seventh state title in program history after another strong defensive showing and a memorable final drive led by sophomore quarterback Drayton Arnold.
After Daniel tied the game with a 5-yard Austin Barnes touchdown run with 4:02 left, Arnold and the offense took the field. After a quick first down, the Seahawks were against a wall following a 13-yard sack.
That’s where Arnold’s first big throw of the drive happened. He was pressured out of the pocket, only to find receiver Kelton Greene for a 25-yard pass to cross midfield.
Three plays later, Arnold completed the second defining throw.
Again forced from the pocket, he found senior tight end Graham Vaughn leaving his defender behind inside the red zone. Vaughn made a diving catch near the sideline, putting the Seahawks into field goal range. Vaughn was one of six Myrtle Beach players to catch a pass against the Lions.
Arnold completed 20 of 37 attempts for 276 yards and three touchdowns, two to Vaughn. He had 73 passing yards on the final drive.
Defensively, the team was for the most part able to minimize Daniel’s top weapon, Shrine Bowl running back Jae’Lon Oglesby. The senior had 173 yards rushing, but 123 came on two carries. It was a far cry from the Lions team that entered that game averaging 40.2 points per game.