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C. E. Murray High School
Greeleyville

War Eagles one step closer to region three-peat

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Greeleyville—If anyone thought the C.E. Murray would take a step back with a new head coach, Chad Wilkes has proved them otherwise.  The former Sumter assistant has the War Eagles back in the driver’s seat for their third straight region championship after defeating Cross, 22-6, in the conference opener for both teams.

“Coming off a week where we gave up 56 (points to Hemingway), to be able to shut them out – the defense didn’t give up a point.  It was an unbelievable job by the players and the coaches to get it turned around.  I’m really proud of those guys,” Wilkes said.

Offensive production has gone through the roof as he switched from the previous I-formation, run-heavy style to a spread system.  Quarterback Elijah Bey has thrived there, throwing for 1,322 yards and 21 touchdowns to just one interception.  He’s also gained over 200 yards rushing.

“He’s already doubled his passing yards and tripled his touchdowns from last year,” Wilkes said.  “He’s a completely different player but that’s a credit to how hard he works.  He gets up at 4 a.m., three times a week, to drive an hour to go lift before school.  He’s perfect for our system.  He’s able to distribute the ball to our guys.  People need to start paying attention to him.”

Darius Rush and Sean Swaringer have been his main go-to receivers, with Rush racking up 480 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns and Swaringer following close behind with 419 yards and four scores.  Running back Jamal Gibson is the team’s leading rusher with 224 yards on the ground.

The only question mark is the offensive line, where injuries have forced the coaching staff to move players around just to hold things together.

“We’re playing with a skeleton offensive line right now.  We’ve got a guy playing center who’s never played center in his life snapping shotgun snaps every play.  We knew we were going to have some issues,” Wilkes said.

Defensively, Swaringer and Khalil Williams have been playmakers up front, but the secondary may be the strength of the unit.  Rush is a lockdown cornerback and Tylik Canty can play the pass and run from his safety spot.  Dayvion Oglesby, another defensive back, recorded an interception against Cross.

“It was a team effort tonight stopping guys like that.  You’ve got to be balanced on both sides and everybody has to come up and tackle.  Everybody did a great job,” Wilkes said.

Murray is 5-2 overall with an open date coming this Friday.  They are back in action with consecutive home games against Branchville (Oct. 13) and Bethune-Bowman (Oct. 20) before closing out the regular season at Scott’s Branch (Oct. 27).

“My coaching style is not to let up.  We’ll take the day off Monday because we have a bye next week, which I think helps us right now,” Wilkes said.  “We’re coming off the biggest game of the year and it will allow us to catch our breath, step back and get back to working on the fundamentals.  Then we’ll get ready for Branchville.  We’ll be back at home so I’m excited about that.”

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