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Home opener finally arrives

It seems like the season opener at Kelly Memorial Stadium has been a long time coming. 

I reckon I forget that it was even a week later last season. However, considering that SCMS has played at Kelly already and the SCHS junior varsity has played there already, it must just seem late. 

Friday night is finally the time for the fourth-ranked Gamecocks to put on their big boy pants and play some big boy football in front of the home crowd. 

It was not Kelly Memorial, but Paulson Stadium was like a home game two weeks ago. Better than 1,000 Gamecock fans there; maybe a couple hundred from Bluffton. It surely would be nice to see a repeat of that tomorrow night. 

You think that would not get this team fired up?

This is a good Wade Hamption team coming into town Friday night. Don’t let the scores of the past fool you. They dominated us in the first half at their place a year ago. Only a pair of defensive scores by the Dirty Birds in the last five minutes made the final of 32-17 seem like it was not close.

No matter how strong Wade Hampton may be, one thing is for sure, I have a hard time seeing us lose to a team that has not completed a pass in its first two games. Of course, the University of Florida knows that the completion of a forward pass by an opponent (AKA Georgia Southern) is not necessary for one to lose. The Devils have also lost seven fumbles in their first two games.

I always look for interesting things from the Georgia High School Football Daily to throw in here. Last Friday there was a feature called “QB Evolution Changed Football in Georgia.”  There were some interesting numbers among those quarterbacks mentioned. In 2016, Tylan Morton of Griffin threw for a state-leading 4,741 yards. Bailey Fisher of Rabun County led AA with 2,671. 

These numbers stand in stark contrast to SCHS numbers. 

The leading career passer for the Gamecocks is Aikeem Mingle who threw for 2,759 yards as a four-year starter. Armani Bunbury, who currently has 2,375 career yards, will pass Mingle shortly. Last season Armani became just the fifth quarterback in our history to top the 1,000 mark in a single season with 1,394.

Does it make a difference? Did those awe-inspiring numbers put up by Morton and Fisher last year do great things? Griffin went 11-2 and Rabun County went 11-1. Neither made it farther than we did and Rabun County did not make it as far. So the answer is no.

Another interesting name in the quarterback story was 6-6 Al Pinkins of Mitchell-Baker. In 1989, he became the first player in Georgia to pass for 3,000 yards. Why do I throw him out? Well he was a starter on the Mitchell-Baker basketball team that Harold Lee Scott’s Gamecocks defeated in the 1989 basketball state quarterfinals. SCHS won that game, played in Tifton, 68-66. Pinkins scored 13. Monroe Oliver had 36 for us.

That was the last time the Gamecocks won a state playoff game in basketball and was the season of the only region championship in the history of SCHS boys basketball. Pinkins, who played basketball at NC State, is currently an assistant basketball coach at Texas Tech. He was at LSU last season and Ole Miss before that.

How’s that for something different in the middle of football season?

Region 4AA had a decent week of action last Thursday and Friday. With SCHS being the lone open team, the region went 4-3 otherwise. It was Harlem 70-0 over Glascock County; Jefferson County 33-0 over Lakeside-Evans; Glenn Hills 35-18 over Hephzibah; and Josey 35-18 over Groves on Thursday. On the wrong end were Laney 38-12 to Aquinas; Westside 41-6 to Richmond Academy; and Butler 31-0 to Greenbrier. 

Bluffton, S.C., rebounded from their lopsided defeat at the hands of the Gamecocks to beat intra-county rival May River, S.C., 24-16 and Statesboro fell to Burke County 42-27.

As with last week, there are no real eye openers on the schedule for this week among our AA rivals with Harlem hosting Warren County; Josey hosting Greenbrier; Glenn Hills hosting Cross Creek; Laney at Evans tonight; and Westside hosting Hephzibah.  

The biggest game in the region from my perspective is Wade Hampton, S.C., at Screven County High School in another interstate clash for the Gamecocks.