All Tuned Up and Ready to Go . . .

Richard Winn Academy quarterback Matt Taylor calls his own number in Friday’s jamboree in Laurens. The Eagles took on a pair of SCISA 8-man powers, brushing aside both in their final test before tonight’s home opener. (Photo/Martha Ladd)

Junior running back Andrew Plante (32) hits the Irmo line and cuts back into open field. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

Bengals, ‘Hawks, Eagles, Griffins Take in Jamboree Action

COLUMBIA/LAURENS – In their final tune-ups before this weekend’s launch of the 2014 high school football season, local teams got a taste of live, game-like action in area jamborees.

Westwood

Saturday afternoon, the Westwood Redhawks’ starting eleven blanked Irmo 14-0 in the first of two quarters of play in the Midlands Honda Battle of the County Line Jamboree at Spring Valley High School. Senior quarterback Nick Leveretter steered the ‘Hawks to an 80-yard scoring drive on their opening possession, wrapping up the assault with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Diamond Williams with 4:59 left on the clock. Brandon Howard tacked on the point after to put Westwood up 7-0.

“I thought we moved the ball well with the (starters),” Westwood head coach Rodney Summers said. “We did what we felt like we wanted to do out there. There were a few mistakes we’ve got to correct here and there, but I feel pretty good about it.”

The defense stifled Irmo on the Yellow Jackets’ ensuing possession, giving Leveretter and the Redhawks the ball on their own 25 following the punt return. Senior running back John Trapp and his junior counterpart, Andrew Plante, diced up the Irmo defense on a drive that devoured yardage as well as the clock. Plante closed out the drive with a 23-yard run into the end zone with 1:06 left in the opening frame, and Howard’s kick made it 14-0.

“The defense was playing well,” Summers said, “making a lot of plays and every time I turned around it was three-and-out, so they’re flying around. Our defense is really playing good. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Sophomore Jalen Smith led the second squad in quarter number two and the offense sputtered somewhat. Irmo’s offense, meanwhile, gained some traction. Anthony Jones, taking a hard hit as he released the ball, managed to connect in the corner of the end zone with Austin Aldredge for a 26-yard touchdown with 9:34 left in the scrimmage.

Westwood opens tomorrow night (Aug. 23) at River Bluff with a 7:30 kick.

Blythewood

The Bengals followed on Westwood’s heels, but stumbled against a hard-driving White Knoll running game, falling 23-14. The first team, however, jumped out front early and held a 7-0 lead over the Timberwolves before turning the contest over to the second squad.

The Bengal offense zipped the ball down field rapidly on their opening drive. Starting at their own 33, junior quarterback David Israel hit Eric Webber at midfield for a quick first down. On the next snap, Israel found Sekwan Jenkins at the White Knoll 41. A facemask penalty against the T’wolves moved Blythewood to the 36, and from there Israel hit Jenkins again at the 21. D’Andre Fletcher carried the rock down to the 18, then Israel struck again, finding Webber at the 7 to set up first-and-goal. Jenkins carried it to the 2, with Israel finishing the drive himself with a 2-yard scoring run. Tucker Smith added the PAT for the 7-0 Bengal lead.

White Knoll, operating out of the Power-I set, moved the ball well in the opening quarter, but the Bengal defense held them out of the end zone. A late first-quarter drive, starting at the White Knoll 30, carried over into the second period as the Timberwolves steadily pounded away at the Bengals’ defensive front. With 11:20 left in the second quarter, White Knoll dented the scoreboard with a 6-yard TD run.

“We’re a little smaller up front than in years past,” Blythewood head coach Dan Morgan said. “White Knoll has got a good, nice-sized offensive line and they took it to us. We’ve got to do a better job of responding because that’s not the only good offensive line we’re going to see this season. We’ve just got to get better up front.”

Blythewood’s second crew made their mark late in the game, with junior quarterback Timel Benton taking the Bengals from the White Knoll 34 all the way to the 6-yard line. With 1:10 left on the clock, Benton linked up with Daquan Patten for a 6-yard scoring strike. Smith’s kick cut the White Knoll lead to 16-14. The drive was set in motion by a 60-yard kickoff return by Jenkins. The T’wolves tacked on a score late for the 23-14 final.

“We’re working on everything,” Morgan said. “We’ll keep doing what we do on offense and try to keep from having drive-killing penalties and things like that. If we do that we’ll be all right. The big thing on the defensive side of the ball is we’ve just got to get better.”

The Bengals open at home tonight against Rock Hill with a 7:30 kick.

Fairfield Central

At the Sportsarama Jamboree at Benedict College Saturday, the Fairfield Central Griffins put their sophomore quarterback Stanley McManus to his first varsity test of 2014 as the Griffins bested Batesburg-Leesville 30-22.

While McManus threw for more than 100 yards in just one quarter of action and while the Griffins came out on the heavy end of the scoreboard, head coach Demetrius Davis wasn’t quite content.

“I give us a C-minus,” Davis said. “We gave up 22 points in one half. We gave up some big plays, some big runs on defense, but these are things we can correct.”

The Griffins graduated a lot of seniors from the defensive front, Davis said, and for many of the front four seeing action Saturday it was their first taste of varsity football.

“We’re going to take some growing pains there early on,” Davis said, “but we’ll get better as the year goes on.”

Running back Joe Young ran the ball well, Davis said, and his backup crew – Josh Bell and Randanion Sampson – took full advantage of their touches.

“They really looked good running the ball,” Davis said.

The Griffins open on the road at Brookland-Cayce’s brand new stadium Friday night with a 7:30 kick.

Richard Winn Academy

The Eagles put on a stunning display in jamboree action in Laurens Friday, bumping off last year’s SCISA 8-man state champs, King Academy, 15-8, and blanking the state runner up, Wardlaw, 14-0. Senior quarterback Matt Taylor completed five of six passes for nearly 100 yards in two quarters of play, while the speedy, no-huddle offense ran the defenses ragged.

“This was a pretty big test for us,” head coach Dan Dickerson said. “These were two teams that are pretty big powers in 8-man football, and we were anxious to see how we would do. . . . We did really well.”

Dickerson said his Eagles still have some minor fine-tuning to do before Friday’s opener against Fountain Inn Christian, but only minor.

“We’ve still got some things to do,” he said. “We’ve got to stay on our blocks, and our slot backs have got to do a better job of picking up their blocks. Defensively, we have to take better angles and be where we’re supposed to be.”

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.