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Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School

Bamberg-Ehrhardt comes up just short in title game

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

 Bamberg—The Bamberg-Ehrhardt football team put together an outstanding campaign, capturing a region and a Lower State title before falling to two-time defending champion Abbeville, 14-7, in the Class AA championship game. The Red Raiders finished the season with a 12-3 record.

“Once they got the momentum, it was a little tough stopping them,” head coach Butch Crosby said afterwards. “They’ve been here three years in a row. That experience took over. I just commend our guys for not giving up and playing hard.”

The loss marked the end of the high school careers for a huge senior class. That group went to two state title games in their four years.

The biggest losses come on the defensive side, where eight starters are graduating. Linebackers Nick Hughes and James Gainyard led the team in tackles with 194 and 184 stops, respectively. Linebacker Dezsman Porter recorded 97 hits.

Ends Sa’Veon Butler (123 tackles, 26 TFL, 16 sacks) and DeJuan Sease (113 tackles, 29 TFL, 14 sacks), and nose tackle Kymari Bingley (78 tackles) leave a complete rebuild on the defensive line.

Jerrald Manigault, who had 13 interceptions, and Ja’Darius Wheeler, who picked off five passes, are gone from the secondary.

Offensively, Gainyard was the team’s second leading rusher with 734 yards while wide receiver Reece Zeigler and tight end Blaze Bunch were two of the top three pass catchers. Luke Harper and Jamel Lawton were the senior offensive linemen.

“It’s tough. Those 22 seniors poured their hearts out. They brought this team together to get us to this point, and it’s just tough to sit here and watch them come up short again,” Crosby said.

The Red Raiders still have a solid nucleus coming back in 2018. A.J. Williams returns at quarterback after throwing for 823 yards and rushing for over 1,000 more. He scored 21 total touchdowns, and added 82 tackles and five interceptions at free safety.

Running back/strong safety Dahlil Wilkins (693 yards, 10 TD; 98 tackles, 10 TFL), running back/linebacker KeSean Brown (518 yards, 5 TD; 99 tackles, 15 TFL), and running back Javalas Folk are other key players returning next season.

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