Redhawks Emerge from Jamboree with Confidence

Raymond Hall delivers a punishing blow.

LUGOFF – Friday’s Lugoff-Elgin Jamboree proved to be an inspiring start to the new football season for the Redhawks as they defeated the Class 4A Demons of Lugoff-Elgin High 7-6. The extra point by Brandon Howard made the difference in this reasonably even matchup.

Despite the close score, Westwood did not play all of its best players. For example, starting quarterback Chris Patterson and star wide receiver Vyncint Smith did not take the field in a calculated decision not to risk the health of some of Westwood’s best in a contest that would not figure into a region championship.

“We are not going to put our starting quarterback on the line if we don’t have to,” Westwood head coach Rodney Summers said before the game. “We need him when it counts. We will be giving our backup quarterback some reps. We will try to play real simple and not show Fairfield (this Friday’s opening night opponent) too much tonight. We don’t want to tip our hand too early. We won’t be trying to run the score up on anyone. We want to keep injury free, and hopefully be solid on special teams, offense and defense. We have not practiced for this team, we are gearing up for Fairfield.”

Westwood kicked off to the Demons, but the Demons couldn’t hold onto the ball very long. On their first snap, Lugoff-Elgin fumbled at their own 10-yard line. That set up Westwood quarterback Nick Leveretter, who fired a pass to Adonus Lee on the second play of their drive. Lee ran the ball across the goal line for a quick touchdown and Brandon Howard put the ball between the uprights for the extra point, giving the Redhawks a 7-0 lead at the very beginning of the game.

Lugoff-Elgin had some success on their ensuing possession, driving to the Redhawk 43-yard line with 8:30 to play in the first period. But the drive stalled there and Westwood took over on downs with 6:35 to go in their first of two periods of play.

The ‘Hawks drove the ball to the Lugoff 31 behind a 25-yard carry by Westwood’s Christian Brown, but penalties hampered their efforts. Soon, the Redhawks, too, turned the ball over on downs.

Mistakes plagued both teams late in the first period. With 4 minutes to go, Lugoff-Elgin fumbled the ball over to Westwood at the Demons’ 29-yard line. Following another penalty against the Redhawks for a false start, Leveretter kept the ball and brought it to the Lugoff-Elgin 34-yard line. Soon thereafter, Lugoff-Elgin was the beneficiary of a Westwood fumble. Several more penalties against both teams would ensue before the end of the period.

The second period began with uninspired play by both teams. Lugoff-Elgin couldn’t make anything happen during their first possession of the period and had to punt. The punt was very poor, sailing not more than 15 yards, giving Westwood good field position. Westwood didn’t fare much better. The Redhawks left their offense on the field intending to convert on fourth down. A penalty for a false start moved Westwood back five yards, which ruined their conversion probabilities and the punting unit came out. Howard booted a great punt down to the 19-yard line of Lugoff-Elgin. The Demons worked the ball downfield to the Westwood 25 yard line, where the Redhawks called a time out.

Whatever the coaches told the players during the time out worked, as the momentum shifted to the Redhawk defense. It looked like the Westwood defense would leave the Demons scoreless as the clock began to wind down. However, two careless penalties against Westwood threatened their whole game. Deep in Westwood territory, an encroachment penalty gave Lugoff-Elgin the gift of a free first down. On the very next play, a costly unsportsmanlike conduct call brought the ball to the Westwood 5-yard line.

With 2:45 to go in the game, Lugoff-Elgin crossed the goal line to make the score 7-6 Westwood. Lugoff-Elgin’s kicker missed the critical extra point, however, which ultimately decided the game.

On their next possession, a fumble by Westwood gave Lugoff-Elgin one more chance for victory, but the Demons couldn’t make anything happen against the Westwood defense. After using their last timeout, Lugoff-Elgin couldn’t stop the clock and the time ran out with the final score 7-6 Westwood.

“I’m happy, real happy; but we can’t become complacent,” Summers said after the game. “We need to cut out the turnovers and iron out some kinks. Special teams looked a lot better than last year. I think if we can keep Fairfield within a touchdown, we will win a bunch of games this year.”

Summers also had some encouraging words for his team after the game as they look toward this Friday’s opener against Fairfield Central, the defending Class 2A upper state champions.

“I don’t care who scores – offense, defense – it doesn’t matter,” Summers said. “We’re going to light up the scoreboard next week. We’re going to shut them down, light them up and shut them down. We’re not last year’s Westwood. Next week is the real deal.”