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Chapman completes perfect season with 44-14 win over Dillon in AAA title game

Chapman Sets SCHSL Historic Scoring Record In 44-13 Win Over Dillon To Claim Second AAA State Title In Four Years

By Billy G. Baker


ColumbiaChapman (14-0) became the top scoring team in the modern history of the SCHSL with a 44-14 win over Dillon to win their second AAA football state title since 2016, led by a collection of the best skill players to compete on one as well.

Chapman’s 44 points gave them 784 on the season which is the most points produced by a SCHSL team in recent memory.

Led by Gatorade South Carolina Player of the Year quarterback Mekele Colarsurdo, who completed 14 of 19 passes in the game for 219 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Dante Smith, who led Panther rushers with 79 yards on 9 carries and a touchdown, Chapmen was just too deep on offense to be stopped by anybody they played this season.

With Colasurdo’s future college coach Shawn Elliott of Georgia State watching from the sideline, Colasurdo surpassed the 3,000-yard mark in passing for the season and ended the season with 37 touchdown passes.

“It feels awesome to go out my senior year with a state championship,” said Colasurdo after the game. “I consider the Gatorade Player of the Year honor a team award because I could not have accomplished much at all without their help and support. I plan on signing and enrolling Georgia State on December 18th and I am firm with my commitment.”  

Chapman head coach Mark Hodge completed his 8th season at Chapman with a perfect 14-0 record and he told a group of reporters gathered around him after the game, “God just put a lot of great players on the same team at the same time and we have a lot of great coaches and  a very supportive community and we are just so blessed to be able to coach them and we are so proud of what they have accomplished,” he said. “We feel good about being among the best and we came in dealing with a zero by our record and our goal was to stay undefeated. I am over-whelmed with appreciation right now.”  

The tone of the game was set early when Chapman’s Eli Whittlemore forced a Dillon fumble around the 15-yard line and teammate Gabe Watson scooped it up and scored from 15 yards. Jake Cothran’s PAT made it 7-0 and the Panthers never trailed in the game. Not even two minutes later Colasurdo scored on a two-yard run at the 9:21 mark of the opening period and the PAT made it 14-0.

“I know everyone talks about our offense, but our defense is pretty solid too,” said Coach Hodge. “I am just excited for those guys too and picking up the fumble early in the game and running it in was huge. We had some wounds and we had some players scarred up during the season, but they got healthy and everyone played well today. God gave them the fruit of their labor today.”

Does Coach Hodge feel like this is his best team thus far at Chapman? “They are the only team with a zero behind their record, so you have to give them credit for going undefeated and yes they are amazing,” said Coach Hodge.

Two years ago, then sophomore quarterback Mekele Colarsurdo came off the bench in the second half and had a rough outing against a veteran Dillon defense. He came into the game against Dillon two years later the Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina. “He is a special young man and he took a lot of slack two years ago when Colten got hurt but that was not his game to win,” said Coach Hodge. “He had to go home hurting and he had to heal some things. He was prepared well for our game with Dillon and he came out ready to be a leader and I am so thrilled for him helping us get the win.”

Coach Hodge complimented the play of running backs Smith and Brandon Jones along with the receivers. “We didn’t play great today but we played a solid game that that is what we asked of the players, to always play a solid game,” said Coach Hodge.

Coach Hodge was asked about beating a tradition rich team like Dillon for the second time in four years to earn a state title. “Coach Hayes has been nothing but remarkable to me and I have nothing but great things to say about him,” said Coach Hodge. “He has always been respectful, and he was one of the first coaches to call us the other day and congratulate Mikele yesterday. Coach Hayes has been nothing but first class and to be able to win a championship you want to be a great team and a great program and there are none better then Coach Hayes and Dillon.”

Speaking of Dillon, the Wildcats return 9 starters on offense next year and they are bringing up three outstanding rising freshmen prospects who could have started this year had the rules allowed that. One of them is a national lineman prospect already 6-6 and 255 pounds. Coach Hayes was proud of his young team getting to the goal medal round despite having to win three-straight playoff games on the road. “No question we are proud of our players for getting to this game and bottom line we knew coming in they were better then us,” said Coach Hayes. “We just couldn’t get any breaks in the first half and we shot ourselves in the foot with some mistakes.

“No question about it, Chapman has a great football team and we knew it was going to be tough for us, but I am proud of our team for making it this far,” said Coach Hayes. “We have a lot returning starters returning and we look forward to working with them going forward and we have several outstanding jayvee players moving up too. We just have to get back to Dillon and keep working hard to get better.”    

  .       With 1:35 of the first period, Walt Waddell scored on a 12-yard run and the PAT was missed to make it 20-0 in the first period. In the second period Dillon finally got on the board junior Ahmari Huggins-Bruce’s five-yard pass from senior quarterback Jay Lester in the second period. The killer score for Chapman came with four seconds left in the half when Colasurdo managed to escape a Dillon defender, buy time with his feet, and nearing the out-of-bounds marker he squared up and heaved  a 38-yard scoring pass to Ben Rollins open crossing the goal line to make the score 27-7 at the half after the PAT.

In the second half Chapman added a six-yard Dante Smith scoring run, Rollins scored on a 9-yard pass, and a 27-yard field goal by Cothran closed out Chapman’s impressive win.

Dillon’s mop up score in the fourth quarter came on a three-yard run by Shrine Bowl linebacker Tyquan King with 3:24 left in the game.

Chapman also had a good rushing ground game from Brandon Jones who gained 72 yards on 5 carries and Colasurdo added 41 yards on 10 carries. Rollins led Panther receivers with five catches for 56 yards and two scores while DeShaun Mitchell had four catches for 55 yards and Bryce Blackwell added three catches for 67 yards. Walt Waddell had two catches for 41 yards.

On defense Paxton Tolleson led the way with 10 tackles followed by Lamone Terrell and Timothy Ferguson with 9 hits each. Je’Corie also contributed 8 tackles.

Dillon was led in rushing by sophomore running back Nigel George with 67 yards rushing on 10 carries while Lester added 39 yards on 15 carries and Nemo Squires netted out at 30 yards on 10 carries. One key in the game was that Chapman doubled team junior big play receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce limited the talented junior to just one catch for five yards.        


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