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Thomas Heyward High School
Ridgeland

 

Rebels one win from state championship opportunity

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Ridgeland – One of the best football seasons in school history could end up in a state championship game if the Thomas Heyward Academy Rebels can advance past Carolina Academy in the SCISA Class A semi-finals on Friday, November 9th.

The Rebels enter the game as the top-ranked team in Class A with a perfect 11-0 record. Thomas Heyward has rolled through the regular season and posted an impressive 70-20 win over Thomas Sumter in the first-round of the state playoffs. Should the Rebels win, the state championship game will be played November 17th at Benedict College.

Through 11 games, Thomas Heyward is averaging 47 points scored per game while allowing just 10.3 points per contest. The Rebels have been their best defensively over the last seven games, allowing only four touchdown over that stretch. The closest margin of victory this season was a nine-point win over Colleton Prep.

Senior linebacker Bryce Tillotson has been the most consistent player defensively this fall, leading the Rebels with 117 total tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

Fellow seniors Timber Hexamer (seven sacks) and CJ Cleland (six interceptions) also have been leaders defensively, while senior Trey Pusha has 69 tackles, six for loss and six interceptions as well.

Senior Josh Gibson has 52 tackles and junior Josh Gobel has 58 tackles, including eight sacks.

While the defense has been consistent and solid, the production offensively certainly eases the burden on the defense. The Rebels are a machine offensively, especially in the running game, averaging 397.7 yards rushing per game. The Rebels also average 10.4 yards per carry and have rushed for 4,375 yards in the first 11 games.

And the yardage is spread around among several players as depth and talent is a strength offensively.

Sophomore JR Patterson, last year’s leading rusher, has missed three games but has still managed to rush for 978 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 13.8 yards per carry.

Junior Bobby Payne averages a whopping 21.2 yards per tote, totaling 637 yards and 13 touchdowns on only 30 attempts. Payne had four touchdowns in the playoff win.

Senior River Pender averages 8.7 yards per carry and has 909 total yards and seven touchdowns. Senior Trey Pusha averages 14.5 yards per carry with 842 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Jacob Masters adds 492 yards rushing and six touchdowns, along with 336 passing yards and eight scores.

The play along the offensive and defensive lines has been strong all season. Working up front on both sides is a group comprised of Hexamer, Dalton Hayes, Evan Brazil, Therion Cannon, Michael Bacon, Noah Ehlers, John Hewlett and Josh Arzillo.

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