MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Anything can happen as three teams from the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee gear up for state championship games this weekend in Columbia.
The biggest question mark could be the health of Myrtle Beach Seahawks senior quarterback Luke Doty, and whether his thumb/wrist has progressed enough for doctors to clear him for action in his last career high school game.
That answer could come as early as Friday, according WMBF’s news partners at MyHorryNews, who report Doty will have one final evaluation to decide his status for Saturday’s game versus Wren (12-2).
Seahawks head coach Mickey Wilson told the media Monday that Doty is fighting to get back on the field and, if cleared, could see time as a defensive back or wide receiver.
“If there’s any chance of getting him out there and not putting him in harm’s way, we’ll definitely do that,” Wilson said at Monday’s SCHSL press availability. “He’s such a great athlete and such a great leader. Anytime you can try and get a guy like that on the field, you do it."
While the University of South Carolina commit’s status remains in limbo, there are trends from Myrtle Beach, Green Sea Floyds and Dillon that are certain to reappear this weekend.
Here’s a quick four of what we’re (pretty) certain will happen this weekend in Columbia:
1. Myrtle Beach will use its ‘Rhino package’ to create some momentum in a bind
Borrowed from the Tim Tebow-era Florida Gators, Myrtle Beach’s Rhino package has added a unique dimension to the Seahawks’ offense this postseason. Sputtering for momentum in the Lower State title game versus Hartsville, Myrtle Beach turned to the formation in a sudden-change scenario with 8:03 remaining in the second quarter.
“We’ve used it for 10 or 12 years and it’s been great for us,” Wilson said. “We’ve had to rely on it a little more this playoffs, especially with Luke [Doty] being out. It’s worked.”
The formation shined the brightest in Myrtle Beach’s first-round game versus Lakewood. Junior running back/defensive back Xayvion Knox bludgeoned the Gators’ defense to the tune of 258 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 99-yard scamper out of the Rhino.
“It shows how explosive I can be on not just on defense but offense too, and how dominant that package can be,” Knox said.
2. Dillon’s championship experience and familiarity with Chapman will make impact
Back in the state title game for the eighth consecutive season, Dillon has made playing at Williams-Brice a December tradition.
The Wildcats’ senior class knows nothing but competing in the league’s penultimate game and the team representing the upper state is quite familiar.
Dillon and Chapman meet in the 3A title game for the third time in four seasons (2016, 2017, 2019), but head coach Jackie Hayes thumbed his nose at any of those matchups playing a factor in Saturday’s game.
“We try and develop our team year-by-year and team-by-team," Hayes said. “The expectations at Dillon are always the same; they expect you to win that last game."
Three-year stater Jateil Lester donned his two state title rings at Monday’s SCHSL press conference, grinning ear-to-ear while answering questions on his role.
“We fell short last year and that left a bad taste,” Lester said. “We just have to come out ready to play and focused.”
3. Green Sea Floyd’s Jaquan Dixon will cross TD milestone
The junior standout has been one of many bright spots for the Trojans this season, but Donnie Kiefer said the staff has made an effort to limit his mileage this season.
“When other teams look at our film I’m sure they see it too," Kiefer said. "We almost feel bad sometimes because he could easily be a 2,000-yard back.”
Despite the effort at ‘load management’ for Green Sea Floyd’s do-it-all tailback, he’s stuffed the stat sheet in 2019 and is certain to cross a milestone this weekend. Through 13 games, Dixon is responsible for 1,837 yards from scrimmage and 29 total touchdowns, many of the games incomplete as he sat the fourth in blowouts.
“I give all the credit to my offensive line,” Dixon said. “I can’t score without them. I need them to make all those big numbers.”
4. Wren’s high-powered offense will challenge the Seahawks’ secondary
The Wren Hurricanes enter Saturday’s 4A title game clicking on all cylinders offensively, a challenge certain to test the back end of Myrtle Beach’s defense.
Wren boat raced many matchups this year, including scoring over 50 points in 11 of those games. Shaking off any worry about the Hurricanes’ offensive firepower, Wilson said his offense will need to start faster Saturday to help the defense out.
“Its been tough to get going these last few weeks,” Wilson began. “Hopefully we can correct that this week and get some points on the board early.”