Eric Hilton certainly knows how to mix business with pleasure.
The West Ashley defensive lineman is in Myrtle Beach to participate in Saturday's SCADA North-South All-Star Game, and he's having a grand time. There are intense practices that keep him busy during the day. But the nightlife is a little more conducive to relaxation and Hilton has spent some of his free time at the bowling alley and in the hot tub at the hotel.
The opposing player who lines up across Hilton might be in different type of hot water Saturday.
Hilton, a 6-3, 270-pound senior, has been almost unblockable and has recorded 101 tackles this season, including 66 solo stops and 29 1/2 tackles for loss. He's strong and quick off the ball. Just ask some of the opposing coaches. He had 18 tackles against Division II-AAAA state champion Goose Creek, and 10 against Division I-AAAA state runner-up Gaffney. He played his best against the top teams in the area. He had 13 tackles against Summerville and 15 against Stratford, including seven for loss.
"Their No. 97 (Hilton) made it tough on us," Stratford coach Ray Stackley said after his team beat the Wildcats, 17-7. "He is one of the best players in the area."
Turns out he was one of the best players in the state. Hilton's coach, Bobby Marion, nominated Hilton to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, which pits the top seniors from South Carolina against their counterparts from North Carolina. But the South Carolina coaches passed on Hilton, so he will play in Saturday's game, which is slated for noon at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
"I don't know what (the Shrine Bowl coaches) were looking for, but he's definitely one of the best players in the state," Marion said. "He played tackle and at nose guard, basically wherever we needed him."
Hilton said the talent level is higher than he expected.
"There are a lot of good players up here. It's more intense and everyone is working hard. I have to work harder is I want to be in the starting lineup."
Hilton, who also played a little on the offensive line, helped the Wildcats to their first regular season winning record since the school opened in 2000.
"Coach Marion pushed me hard," Hilton said. I tried to be a leader and help influence the underclassmen. I helped out team to its first winning record, but I didn't do it myself. We had a lot of players step up."
Hilton has been in contact with the University of South Carolina, The Citadel, Newberry and a couple of junior colleges in Kansas. A strong effort Saturday will make his stock go up.
"I have to play hard. I have to step up my game," Hilton said. "I have to be better than my opponent."
Berkeley coach Jeff Cruce is the head coach of the South team and has 19 players from the Lowcountry on his rosters.
The other 18 players include: Danny Croghan Bishop, England; Devron Glenn, Fort Dorchester, Seamus McKinney, Ashley Ridge; Kyle Clark, Beaufort; Anthony Enos, Cane Bay, Shane Britt, Woodland; Hunter Shepherd, Berkeley; Devin Brown, James Island, Lee Mayes, Timberland; Raemond Robinson, Goose Creek, Michael Sulka Bluffton, James Middleton, Timberland; Steven Sawyer, Berkeley; Lee Cromedy Georgetown; Matt Steffensen, Goose Creek; Eric Mikel Dickerson, Stratford; Jarrid Govia, Summerville and Tyler Stasky, Wando.
The North won last year's game, 26-6, and leads the series, 36-25-2.