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AA Football Feature

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Moncks Corner — When Abbeville (9-0) started off the season with a 57-0 road win over tradition rich Lincoln County, Ga. and then followed that domination with a 49-0 win over a well-coached Newberry team at home, observers of AA football in South Carolina concluded that the Panthers are heavy favorites to win their fourth straight state title.

The AA championships will be held at Benedict College on December, 7th in Columbia.

Abbeville simply reloads from year to year with a feeder program second to none in South Carolina. Under the direction of future Hall of Fame head coach Jamie Nickles and athletic director Tad Dubose, one of the best defensive coordinators in the state of South Carolina, look for these two gentlemen’s smiling faces in the team state title trophy picture at Benedict College on December 7th

Abbeville leads AA in both scoring (412) and fewest defensive points allowed (80) and the only thing that can slow this speeding A-train is unfortunate late season injuries. The Panthers are led by two solid HSSR Top 100 prospects in defensive lineman Nate Temple (6-4, 215) and running back Cortney Jackson (6-1, 206). Both Panthers made the Shrine Bowl team.

Well, not so fast my friends. While Abbeville might go unchecked in the upstate of AA four teams from the lower state appear loaded with talent, and hungry to wrestle the title away from Abbeville.  Barnwell (9-0) has outscored teams 382-98 this season and they have bus load of junior talent with three players currently ranked among the top 35 in South Carolina.

Those players are offensive lineman Briggs Kearse (6-4, 300), junior strong safety Deshawn Watson (6-2, 192) and offensive lineman Isaiah Williams (6-5, 3012(. The Warhorses recently got past last year’s lower state champions Bamberg-Ehrhardt, 21-20 on the road. They left that hard earned victory feeling good about the fact that if both teams keep winning in the playoffs the Warhorses have the home field late. The Raiders felt like they let one slip away and they can beat you home or away.

Raider quarterback A.J. Williams is a talented quarterback/athlete headed to Middle Tennessee. The Raiders are a well-coached tam under first year head coach Robert Williams.  

Barnwell is led by speedy OLB/SS type Desahawn Watson (6-2, 190) and Warhorse head coach Dwayne Garrick touts his play in every interview. The Warhorses have four players with over 50 tackles Dylan Walker (66), Watson (62), Julius Arnold (59) and Brashawn Spann (54). Watson leads the teams with 13 tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead in sacks and recovered fumbles with 3 each. Walker and Maurice Watson both have 9 TFL’s.

Junior quarterback Craig Pender has been solid all year throwing for 1,588 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has only thrown six interceptions all year but four came in the last game. He did bounce back in a big way as he was 5 for 5 on the gaming winning drive.

Ty Frazier and Kaleil Johnson along with Creech have been Pender’s top targets. Frazier is second on the team in yards with 337 yards and Johnson in touchdowns with 7.

Starting the playoffs Coach Garrick told the HSSR, ““We have had an outstanding week of practice particularly the past couple of days. Our focus is to take care of the ball and limit mistakes,” said Garrick.

When realignment moved Timberland down from AAA to AA this season the buzz was that the Wolves would take the lower state by storm and give Abbeville a strong run in the finals. However, Timberland (7-2) started off the season 0-2 with losses to bigger schools Stratford and Charlotte Latin causing them to dip down in the AA statewide rankings. Since the slow start the Wolves are 7-0, went undefeated in their region, and they have dominated AA teams at the tune of 295-21. Head coach Art Craig has been pleased with the past seven wins for sure.

Coach Craig has been really pleased with his defense. “We were looking at stats on defense and we’ve only given up something ridiculous like under 400 yards rushing all year long, and half of that came against Stratford,” Craig said. “Half the passing yards came from Oceanside. They’ve been pretty dialed in on defense.”

Terrence Smalls leads the team with 72 total stops from his linebacker spot followed by defensive lineman Sam Moultrie with 65 tackles from his nose guard position. On the back end, North-South All-Star selection Tyler Sumpter has four interceptions from his corner spot.

More defensive leaders are DL Daquan Gleason (46.5 tackles), LB Matt Williamson (53 tackles), LB William Chandler (51 tackles) and LB Dakari Wynn (36.5 tackles) and Daytwan Jenkins (4 INTs).

On the other side of the ball, QB DJ Gadsden has passed for 565 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 152 yards and five touchdowns. Williamson has a team-high 529 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Jamari Nelson and Shemar Greene have contributed 377 and 354 yards respectively. Greene has 10 rushing touchdowns and Nelson four. Sumpter leads the receivers with 225 yards and four touchdowns.

Carvers Bay is also undefeated under the coaching leadership of Nate Thompson. The Bears are led by senior quarterback Janez Sumpter (5-11, 1800 who can take it to the house on any play from anywhere. Running back Torento King is having a solid year.

The Bears come into the playoffs having out-scored teams 381-73. When the dust settles in the lower state Carvers Bay could emerge as a solid opponent for the heavily favored Abbeville Panthers.   

 

 

 


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