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Robert E. Lee High School

Young players continuing to develop at Lee Academy

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

BishopvilleRobert E. Lee Academy football coach David Rankin has turned the Cavaliers into a force to be reckoned with during the last several years.  After back-to-back appearances in the SCISA AA championship game, the Cavaliers are 5-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

“We’re playing hard.  Some things aren’t like we want them to be, but we’re getting maximum effort.  Offensively, we’re playing pretty good.  Defensively, we’re very average.  We’re can to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re getting better every week,” Rankin said.

Most of the starting lineup was replaced this fall, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  However, both quarterback Bryce Barrett and wide receiver Nick Laney have provided the leadership as veterans.  Barrett recently had his best game of the season, throwing for 391 yards and five touchdowns while running for another score against Spartanburg Christian.

“They’ve done a good job leading the team on offense and defense.  They both play both ways,” Rankin said.

One of the newcomers to the lineup this year is sophomore slot receiver Jet Smith, who has also seen time at strong safety and placekicker.  He will be a player to watch in the coming seasons.

“He had a broken arm to start the year so he could only play defense.  He just started playing offense about three weeks ago and that’s really helped us.  He’ll probably move to quarterback last year,” Rankin said.

On defense, it has been the linebackers who have had the most impact.  Hunter McGee and Christian Olson are the top tacklers on the unit with over 50 stops each, and Olson also has a team-high six sacks.  Laney and Smith are strong in the secondary, but the defensive line has struggled against some of the bigger teams they’ve played.

“At times, we haven’t tackled real well, but we’re getting better at it.  We’re not very big on defense so the teams that run right at us have given us some trouble.  Our defensive line went from about 270 (pounds per man) to about 180.  We’re just young on that side of the ball,” Rankin said.

The Cavaliers have four games remaining on the schedule, including three against region foes.  They travel to Augusta Christian, Florence Christian and Oakbrook Prep over the next three weeks before hosting Thomas Sumter in the regular season finale Oct. 27.

With a loss to Trinity-Byrnes, repeating as conference champions is likely out of reach, but they can still secure a home playoff game with a second-place finish.  That will most likely be decided against Florence Christian.

“All four of them can beat us and we can beat all four of them.  We’re going to have to play well every week.  I think we match up good with everybody.  As long as we don’t turn the ball over or give up explosive plays, we’ll be okay,” Rankin said.


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