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Batesburg-Leesville High School

 

Batesburg-Leesville football prepares for playoffs

By Jay Hendrix

Special Contributor

Batesburg – The Batesburg-Leesville Panthers enter the Class AA playoffs as a number four seed, but have plenty of confidence as they have improved throughout the season.

The Panthers, under second-year head coach Gary Adams, have just four senior starters.  The Panthers will be on the road at Columbia to open the playoffs.

The Panthers finished the regular season 4-6 overall with a 2-3 mark in Region 2-AA.  The Panthers dropped big losses to Abbeville (55-7) and Ninety Six (36-13) but picked up wins over Silver Bluff (33-19) and Fox Creek (36-13). 

In the season finale the Panthers and the Saluda Tigers went back and forth.  However, three second-half turnovers sealed the Panthers fate as the Tigers converted them into 17 points to win 24-21. 

In the loss, Tigers senior tailback Tay Wilson continued his strong second half of the season with 159 yards on 21 carries to go with two touchdowns. Wilson tied the game with a 44-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.  Wilson tallied 145 yards against Fox Creek on 10 carries along with 188 yards on 29 carries against Silver Bluff.  In that game Wilson also had an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. On the season the senior has 893 yards rushing and eight touchdowns while also returning two kickoffs for scores.

In the regular-season finale the Panthers faced off with Lexington in a rescheduled contest due to Hurricane Florence. The game featured former B-L coach Perry Woolbright bringing his Wildcats to Panther Stadium in a game with nothing to play for. Both teams agreed to play non-starters and junior varsity players in the contest so no one was hurt heading into the playoffs. In the game, JT Rowe rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers while Jackson Lorick had three kickoff returns for 45 yards in the 38-14 loss.

The Panthers wrapped up the other fall sports recently as the girls tennis and boys and girls cross country teams all finished second in Region 2-AA. The volleyball team placed third in the region. Volleyball and tennis both lost in the first round of the playoffs respectively against Southside Christian and Christ Church, respectively. In volleyball Jayla Barr was named all-region and all-state while Zoe Jackson was all-region.  Head coach Brantley Buzhardt was named co-head coach for the North-South All-Star Game. 

The girls cross country team finished the season 11th in the Class A/AA state championships after finishing second in the region to Ninety Six. The Panthers have no seniors are were once again paced by freshman Mina Shull with a time of 22:47 while eighth-grader Jasmine Campbell posted a time of 23:26. 

The boys cross country team finished 17th overall in the Class A/AA state championship after also finishing second in Region 2-AA to Ninety Six. The boys were paced by Justin Castro all season and at state he led the team with a time of 18:37. Cayden Bundrick was second for the Panthers with a time of 19:31 as the future looks bright for both teams with plenty of talent slated to return next season for head coach Kim Hendrix.

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