Monday, September 16, 2019

Hephzibah, Westside and Harlem opened region play with a win and these are the highlights, statistics and stories from the opening night of class 2A league play

Javeon Harris (4) - Hephzibah

The fourth week of the high school football season was headlined by the beginning of region 4-AA action. Because of postponements caused by lightning Friday night, the last of the opening four games in that league won't be decided until Monday night after Butler hosts defending region champion Jefferson County. But regardless of how that game unfolds, Hephzibah's 35-27 road win over Screven County, Westside's narrow victory at home over Laney and Harlem's thrashing of Glenn Hills ensured that the beginning of conference play proved to be as exciting as we should expect when it comes to region competition, which of course eventually decides which teams will earn a spot in the state playoffs.

Below you will find full game highlights from the first sign of region competition in the area along with as much information as could be gathered over the weekend from the entire area's week four games.

Hephzibah 35, Screven County 27

The visiting Rebels played with poise and benefitted from a string of big plays during the game's most crucial moments by a long list of contributors, securing an important road win over a quality opponent, and improving to 2-0 overall, and 1-0 in region 4-AA action.

First, Javeon Harris ran back a Screven County kick off 70 yards for a touchdown to give Hephzibah a 7-6 lead right after the Gamecocks had scored on their first drive on a quarterback keeper by Austin Markovcic. Then after both teams took turns losing possession on a fumble, Hephzibah defensive back Jecori Johnson swung the momentum back towards his team's side with a diving interception after making a break on a Markovcic pass over the middle. Then quarterback Marshall Chambers extended Hephzibah's good fortune with two touchdown passes, one to Angelo Mosher, and the other to Erick Harris, giving the Rebels a 21-6 heading into halftime.

Marshall Chambers rolls right and looks for a receiver in Friday's win over Screven County.

Chambers was brilliant in engineering his team's only two offensive scoring drives of the game, both before halftime, by which time he had recorded 118 yards passing and 2 touchdowns throws on only 4 completions. On the first drive, he threw a strike to Harris on the right sideline to earn a first down on fourth and four right inside Gamecock territory. And a couple snaps later he barely avoided a sack, escaped toward the right sideline and waved Mosher down field before hitting him in stride on his way to a 28 yard touchdown that put the Rebels ahead 14-6. Later in the half he showed off a strong throwing arm by heaving a perfect spiral to Harris while rolling to his right for a 65 yard touchdown completion.

"He's not just an athlete. He's a quarterback," Hephzibah coach William Harrell stressed after the game. "And he's out here to make people understand... he's a dual threat quarterback. And he's busting his behind to make sure people understand he can throw and he can run."

But it was the second half when both teams proved they have what it takes to emerge from the region schedule in 8 weeks and represent the league in the playoffs. Screven County bolted out of the locker room to score 13 points in the first 5 minutes when Shemar Cheever reached the end zone on a 50 yard run, which was immediately followed by a PJ Flowers interception that was returned to inside of Hephzibah's 5 yard line. 270 pound lineman Demetrius Boyd then lined up in the backfield, took a handoff and trucked his way into the end zone to cut Hephzibah's lead to 21-19 with 7:00 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

But the swing in momentum towards Screven County was instantly reversed when on the ensuing kickoff Harris sprinted 85 yards for a Rebel touchdown. Moments later, Hephzibah safety Enoch Howard recovered a Screven County fumble on a botched pitch inside the Gamecocks' 5 yard line, which led to a Ronald Coleman touchdown run and a Jalen Gibson 2 point conversion to give Hephzibah a 35-19 lead. And there was still 4:00 remaining in the third quarter!

Enoch Howard (8) and Jalen Gibson (70)

Howard and Jecori Johnson, who between them accounted for three of Hephzibah's five takeaways, talked after the game about the "family bond" that they say defines their team, which is believable after seeing the way this group, which is fresh off a school record 8 win season, responded to adversity Friday and stuck together through the difficult stretches that come with playing against a good team on the road in league play.

"At Hephzibah we play for more than just us. This is really just a family bond," Johnson said. "Everybody here just loves each other and at the end of the day, no matter how down we are... we're gonna keep fighting besides each other. And I would never like to play for nobody but Hephzibah."

Howard told me in the post game interview he played middle school football with Johnson, and he said he and Johnson have been playing with other current teammates Gibson, (Erick) Harris, Chambers and E'shawn Mayes for years. He was also quick to give credit to others when talking about his own impact on the game in making 8 tackles from the strong safety position:

"They (Gibson and fellow defensive tackle Raul Rodriguez) were just messing up the whole play. It started up front with the D-line," Howard explained. "Them boys held their ground, and I'm really proud of them."

Hephzibah's defense held Screven County to 227 yards rushing, which is 130 yards fewer than its per game average in the first two weeks of the season when the Gamecocks earned close wins over Bluffton and Southeast Bulloch. Along with Howard, a host of Rebel defenders deserve credit for getting the job done, including Nickolas Callen (13 tackles), Dale Mealing (13), Malachi Louis (8) Rodriguez (7), Gibson (7), Ivan Arroyo (6) and Jaiden Wofford (6).

But the deciding play came with less than 4 minutes remaining when Johnson answered a third and final Screven County lunge back into contention. The Gamecocks had just pulled to within one score on Cheever's second rushing touchdown of the game and then immediately forced a Hephzibah three-and-out. On first and 10 from the Hephzibah 41 yard line, Markovcic threw another pass into Johnson's territory. This time instead of diving for the pick, Johnson caught it in stride and ran it back across midfield before being forced out on the left sideline into the Rebel bench, where his teammates, or as he would put it, his "family," greeted him and thanked him for sealing the all important win.

"I'm not gonna lie to you... It took me like three steps to realize I had the ball," Johnson told me after the game about his game clinching interception. "All I know is you just go. You can't be thinking about 'who's over here, who's over there?'"

Westside 6, Laney 0

Maddox Hankinson kicked field goals of 42 and 36 yards to provide the difference on the scoreboard and give the Patriots their first win of the season. Hankinson also did his part in pinning Laney deep in their own territory several times, recording a touchback on all three of his kick off's, and also booting a 50 yard punt.

The other necessary ingredient in Westside's winning its region opener despite failing to cross the goal line for the second time in two games this season was a defense that, in coach Jon Wiley's words, is "stacked with ball players." The unit hasn't given up a touchdown in eight quarters against Richmond and Laney, and it can boast of these accomplishments in Friday's game:

  • 7 forced turnovers (4 fumbles, 2 interceptions, 1 on downs)
  • Allowed only 134 yards on 50 snaps (a large snap count due to Westside's struggles on offense)
  • Recorded 14 tackles for a loss
  • Recorded 4 sacks while forcing Laney into completing only 4 of 20 passes

Harlem 35, Glenn Hills 0

Junior phenom Cameron Garnett was 100% for an entire game for the first time this season, and the statistics for both his team and himself reflected that fact. According to the Augusta Chronicle's Will Cheney, Garnett rushed for two touchdowns and 152 yards on 20 carries. Sophomore Jeremiah Ellis also scored a pair of rushing touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who improved to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in region play.

Jefferson County at Butler (Monday, 6:00 P.M.)

Follow the @AugBball social media timeline for video highlights and updates from this special "Monday night football" game that was rescheduled because of Friday's weather troubles. Both teams enter the contest 0-2, but Jefferson County's losses came to a pair of top 10 teams in Swainsboro and Washington County. The Warriors also started last season with a pair of losses against the same two teams before they ran off 10 straight wins to claim a region title and advance to the class 2A state playoff quarterfinal round.

More Week 4 Results

Besides unbeaten and unchallenged Barnwell, no area team is hotter right now than Strom Thurmond (3-1), which blitzed Midland Valley 40-0 last night for its third straight victory over a local class 4A team. Thurmond is the defending champion of its 3A region. The Rebels will visit Emerald next Friday.

Silver Bluff 42, Denmark-Olar 14 

Grovetown 13, Richmond 7 

Jose Taylor scored on a 71 yard touchdown run and Kori Bryant also rushed for a touchdown from a yard out.

Fox Creek 20, McCormick 14 - OT

Augusta Christian 19, Cardinal Newman 14

Friday, September 13, 2019

Screven County vs Hephzibah headlines tonight's 4 game class 2A region schedule opening slate

Region play begins tonight for our area’s class 2A Georgia teams, so AugBball will report live from Hephzibah’s game at Screven County to help kick off the first region race of the 2019 season. Here are the 4 region schedule openers on tonight’s schedule:

Hephzibah (1-0) at Screven County (2-0)

The Rebels are being talked about as the favorite because of last season's 27-14 victory over Screven County and Hephzibah's 7-1 region record a year ago. I bet coach William Harrell is counseling his players to give the Gamecocks the proper amount of respect because even though they finished fourth last season in this 9 team league, Screven County until then had always been considered a near lock to finish in one of the region's top two spots along with Jefferson County.

Screven County RB Gary Hawkins (left) and tackle DaCalvin Williams (right).

Screven County has gotten off to a strong start running the football. Senior Gary Hawkins rushed for a combined 427 yards and 7 touchdowns in the team's 44-41 win over Bluffton and its 26-23 victory over Southeast Bulloch.

Jalen Gibson (70), Raul Rodriguez (65) and Dominique Morris (89)

Hephzibah will counter with a strong defense led by a very capable front 4 in Raul Rodriguez, Jalen Gibson, Ivan Arroyo and Dominique Morris, as well as Dale Mealing, who filled in for an injured Morris in the team's 33-12 win over Savannah two weeks ago. The Rebels recorded 8 sacks in that game, and the entire defense, which also includes standouts Enoch Howard, Ronald Coleman and Jaiden Wofford, will have its hands full with the Gamecock rushing attack.

Hephzibah quarterback Marshall Chambers

If Hephzibah is unable to stop Screven County on the ground, the pressure will shift to junior quarterback Marshall Chambers and his capable receiving corps, which includes speedy senior receiver Erick Harris and versatile senior tight end E'Shawn Mayes.

Whether or not the defense can contain Hawkins and company on the ground, Hephzibah's offense can certainly put points on the scoreboard. So tonight's region opener has all the makings of a playoff caliber game played in early September, which would be a great way to begin the 2019 region race!

Other Region Games

Jefferson County (0-2) at Butler (0-2)

Jefferson County linebacker Kydran Jenkins, who has committed to Purdue.

The Warriors enter tonight's matchup in the exact same position as they did last season, having lost their first two games against top 10 level teams. From this spot last year, Jefferson County proceeded to run off 10 straight victories on its way to the class 2A quarterfinal state playoff round finish.

Laney (1-1) at Westside (0-1)

Both teams have new coaches and both have shown evidence of improvement already. But a limited amount of action up to this point makes tonight's game impossible to predict. The only sure thing will be that one of the teams will feel like it is on top of the world after a region opening victory tonight.

Laney linebacker Jordan Stringer (2)

Laney's junior linebacker and running back Jordan Stringer is one of the area's very best players. He makes an impact on nearly every snap. And because Westside was unable to get on the scoreboard in its 3-0 loss to Richmond, one would expect Stringer to be salivating at the chance to get into the Patriot backfield and wreak havoc.

Glenn Hills (1-1) at Harlem (0-2)

The film from the Spartans' 18-14 win over Cross Creek paints the picture of a bruising Glenn Hills attack that is led by a pair of well put together athletes, Devante Harris (5-11, 225) and Lamarcco Hester (6-1, 235), who play with an edge.

#4 Cameron Garnett (Harlem)

The question I would have about Harlem is whether or not junior phenom Cameron Garnett will play. Reports from Harlem's week one loss at Aquinas said that Garnett was hobbled by cramps. And there was no sign of him in the stat line from last week's loss to Washington-Wilkes. Garnett's availability, or lack thereof, will make an outsize impact.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Story, highlights, pictures and interviews from Kennedy Middle's comeback against Silver Bluff as well as a round up of middle school ball from around the area

Damario Saxon (Kennedy Middle) skies for a reception on a 2 point conversion.

Damario Saxon intercepted a pass on the first play of the third quarter and ran it back for a touchdown to ignite a 14-0 second half run that gave Kennedy Middle School a 16-12 win over Silver Bluff at South Aiken High Wednesday on the opening night of the Aiken County Middle School season. Saxon's pick 6 was one of his two interceptions during the comeback, the second coming on Silver Bluff's final drive when the Bulldogs tried to answer a Javon Edwards touchdown and a 2 point conversion connection between Druw Kirkland and Saxon that gave the Eagles their first lead of the game with 32 seconds remaining.

The go ahead scored by Edwards marked the first successful scoring drive for Kennedy's offense, and much of the progress was made when Edwards rushed around the left end. Edwards credited Saxon and fullback Carlos Ponce for clearing the way for his successful rushes that powered the decisive drive in the final two minutes.

"I saw it open," Edwards said about the touchdown run. "And I saw Damario had him peeled on the inside. The safety couldn't get there in time."

Javon Edwards (Kennedy Middle) celebrates his go ahead touchdown.

Ponce also impacted the game defensively with several tackles, including two in the first half that resulted in a safety. And he rushed for two key first downs, the most important being a 3 yard lunge to the Silver Bluff 38 yard line on 4th and 2 to keep alive the game winning drive.

"That fourth down I think was a really big game changer," Ponce said after the game. "If we didn't get that, I think they would have shut us down immediately."

Carlos Ponce (Kennedy Middle)

Two plays after Kennedy's go ahead score, Saxon sealed the game by out-leaping Silver Bluff's Jordan Boyd for a ball thrown up for grabs by quarterback Malik Scurry. Saxon's grab resembled the play he made that ignited the comeback almost 16 minutes earlier, when skied high for a pick on Silver Bluff's 32 yard line and ran it across the goal line untouched.

"I just think I had to get that one to get us a score," Saxon said of the team's first touchdown of the season. "Down two scores... I had to get it for us. I read the route, saw him throwing it over... jumped up and got it."

Druw Kirkland (8), Damario Saxon (3) and Carlos Ponce (2)

Kennedy's comeback overshadowed a dominant first half by Silver Bluff that was marked by the contributions of several promising playmakers, including running backs Andrew Green and Daniel Jones, receivers DesJuan McCorckle and Jordan Boyd, and quarterback Malik Scurry.

Andrew Green (30) celebrates his second touchdown with Daniel Jones (26).

McCorckle was forced to leave the game just before halftime after he was injured being tackled on Kennedy's 3 yard line after a 65 yard pass completion from Scurry that led to a touchdown connection between Scurry and Green with 1.8 second left in the second quarter that gave the Bulldogs a 12-2 lead at the break.

#30 Andrew Green (Silver Bluff Middle)

The score was the second of the game for Green, whose presence was felt on both sides of the ball, especially in the first half. The stocky running back and linebacker scored on a physical run at the goal line on Silver Bluff's first drive. Then he almost single handedly stopped Kennedy from scoring on their next series by making tackles on first, second and third-and-goal before his teammate Christian Echols did the honors on fourth down.

Kennedy will visit Schofield next Wednesday, and Silver Bluff's second game will be Wednesday, September 25, on the road against North Augusta.

Opening night in Aiken County came one day after the opening round of middle school games in Richmond County. The schedules for the Columbia County league, the Augusta-Aiken Middle School (private) league and the league that contains many of the CSRA's outlying counties have already reached their third week of action. 

Grovetown Middle and Evans Middle win to set up Tuesday's clash of unbeaten teams

Grovetown Middle topped Lakeside 18-0 Wednesday, setting up a clash next Tuesday on the road against Evans Middle, which is also 3-0 after their 22-6 win over Riverside two days ago.

Brenden Reynolds (Evans Middle) finds a running hole against Greenbrier

Evans continued to get contributions from a wide range of skill players in Tuesday's win:

Brenden Reynolds rushed for 125 yds resulting and 2 touchdowns.

Noah Story (Evans Middle)

Noah Story (above) rushed for a touchdown, and Jaden Frails (below) recorded 2 tackles for a loss along with a key tackle on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter.

Jaden Frails (Evans Middle)

Thomson continued to roll, adding a 48-0 win Wednesday over Washington-Wilkes to a 38-0 win last week over Warren County and a 64-6 season opening win two weeks ago against Washington County.

Anthony Jeffrey (Thomson Middle)

Coming Soon - Augusta Christian vs Cardinal Newman (JV)

Augusta Christian will play Cardinal Newman in a JV game Thursday night.

Augusta Christian has established itself as the team to beat in the Augusta-Aiken Middle School league after runaway wins to begin the season over Westminster and EDS. The team will add ninth graders from the school to form a junior varsity squad in today's matchup against Cardinal Newman's JV team. Expect highlights from that game on the @AugBball social media timelines some time Friday.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Week 3 Area Football Review

Bradley Godwin threw 2 touchdown passes in the second half Friday to lead a North Augusta comeback win.

During the third Friday of the season, powerhouses Barnwell, Thomson, Strom Thurmond and Wagener-Salley all sprinted away from their competition. North Augusta, Evans and Glenn Hills each earned come-from-behind victories. And Lakeside, Aquinas, Laney and Ridge Spring-Monetta rolled over their opponents. Below you will find highlights, statistics and more from most of last Friday's notable games.

Comeback Kids

North Augusta 17, Grovetown 16

Quarterback Bradley Godwin and wide receiver Jordan Wilburn connected several times during the second half to spark a 17-0 run that was enough to allow the Yellow Jackets to come back from a 10-0 first half deficit and earn a road win over Grovetown.

"We went into the locker room with all of our heads down," Godwin said after the game about the halftime deficit. "Coach said 'we're a family; we'll come together as one; we're gonna go back out there and do what we do.'"

Godwin, Wilburn and receiver Grayson Bridgers took it from there, marching down the field for three scoring drives on the team's first four series of the second half. North Augusta claimed a 17-10 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game after Godwin hit Bridgers for a 25 yard touchdown pass two plays after Wilburn returned a Grovetown punt deep into Warrior territory.

Jordan Wilburn (North Augusta)

The go ahead score came after a pair of North Augusta drives that both featured Wilburn catching a string of passes on slant routes. The first drive ended with a Yellow Jacket field goal to put North Augusta on the scoreboard for the first time. And almost immediately after regaining possession on the kickoff when Tony Caldwell forced Grovetown's Jose Taylor to fumble at the end of his long return, Wilburn caught another pass from Godwin over the middle to tie the game at 10 at the end of the third quarter.

Grovetown had a chance to tie the game with an extra point with 57 seconds remaining after quarterback Kori Bryant scored on a 16 yard run after completing several passes to put the Warriors in scoring position. But the kick was wide right, and Grovetown's onside kick attempt was fielded successfully by Caldwell.

North Augusta improved to 2-1 by winning its second straight ahead of this week's home game against Blythewood (2-1). Grovetown fell to 1-2. The Warriors will visit Richmond (0-1) Friday.

Glenn Hills 18, Cross Creek 14

The Spartans stormed back from a 14-6 halftime deficit to earn their first win of the young season behind three touchdowns by Devante Harris:

Glenn Hills improved to 1-1 ahead of this Friday's region opener at Harlem (0-2). Cross Creek (2-1) will travel to Swainsboro (1-1) Friday.

Evans 20, Richmond 10

Evans improved to 2-1 by allowing its lowest point total of the season, which is saying something because the Knights only surrendered 16 to Effingham County in week one, and 14 to North Augusta in week two.

Jalen Walton (above) leads Evans in tackles.

The Mighty Roll

Barnwell 42, Silver Bluff 7

Craig Pender (Barnwell)

Barnwell's 42-7 win almost underwhelmed after the #2 ranked (South Carolina class 2A) Warhorses scored 69 and 62 points in their first two victories. Silver Bluff forced Barnwell quarterback Craig Pender to work hard for his 4 touchdown passes, as you can see below on the team's first scoring drive, via footage from the Aiken Standard Game of the Week broadcast (click for full game).

There aren't many high school quarterbacks making reads like Pender did there, which has to at least partially explain why he has been able to post 9 touchdown passes in only 3 games so far.

The Warhorses (3-0) and Bulldogs (1-1) both play special Thursday night games this week. Barnwell will face Burke (0-2) at The Citadel, and Silver Bluff will host Denmark-Olar (0-2).

Wagener-Salley 74, Eau Claire 0

Jakobe Schofield (Wagener-Salley)

The War Eagles lived up to their #2 ranking (South Carolina class 1A) by posting an even larger number than their fellow #2 ranked peer Barnwell has been known to do.

Wagener-Salley's offensive line led the rout by paving the way for 320 rushing yards on only 19 carries for an eye popping 16.8 yards per carry. Coach Willie Fox's linemen don't resemble many class 1A teams because the War Eagles have an abundance of size in the trenches.

Take #75 Jakobe Schofield, a 6-5, 302 pound senior for an example:

And Wagener-Salley's size advantage is matched by that of its speedsters on the outside. AJ Swedenburg covered 98 yards and scored 2 touchdowns while touching the ball 3 times Friday. The junior scored on one of his two receptions. He also recovered a fumble and took it 51 yards to the house.

Another standout performer was the multi-faceted 6-4, 250 pound junior tight end and defensive end Elijah Davis, who recorded 5 tackles for losses and also scored on a 47 yard touchdown reception.

Wagener-Salley (3-0) is off this week before region play begins on the road against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler on September 20.

Thomson 35, Eagles Landing 0

The Bulldogs recorded their second shutout win in two tries to start the season, holding Eagles Landing to 66 yards of total offense. Junior linebacker Skylar Lewis returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown to go with his 11 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss. And senior Dylan Hobbs notched another 9 tackles.

Dylan Hobbs (Thomson)

The Bulldogs (2-0) will face Clarke Central (2-1) at home this Friday.

Strom Thurmond 42, South Aiken 27

The #3 ranked (South Carolina class 3A) Rebels exceeded 40 points for the second straight week behind standout performances from three veteran producers:

Strom Thurmond (2-1) will go on the road for its next three contests, beginning with this Friday's game at Midland Valley (0-2).

More from Week 3

Lakeside 45, Duluth 21

The Panthers scored 36 points in the third quarter, and senior quarterback Jaden Taylor posted his second player-of-the-week worthy stat line in two games. The veteran quarterback is doing his part to make sure Barnwell's Craig Pender doesn't run away with all of the quarterback praise.

Lakeside (2-0) has this Friday off before the Panthers host Aiken (0-3) on September 20 in a game that will be featured as WJBF's game of the week.

Aquinas 47, Wilkinson County 7

AJ Williams and Joseph Welch each ran for a pair of touchdowns, and defensive end Jaden Blount recorded 5 tackles for losses in Aquinas's third victory in three tries. Welch also gained 115 yards receiving. The Fighting Irish have a bye this week before traveling to Lincoln County (1-1) for their first region contest on September 20.

Jaden Blount (Aquinas) makes a tackle in the backfield against Laney in week one.

Laney 41, McCormick 0

The Wildcats (1-1) reached the win column to warm up for this Friday's region opening road game against Westside (0-1). Dykese King turned in a strong performance:

Ridge Spring-Monetta 68, Whitmire 28

Remedee Leaphart (Ridge Spring-Monetta)

RSM (1-2) earned its first win ahead of its region opener at North (0-2) one week from this Friday.

Quarterback Remedee Leaphart turned in a stat line for the ages: 5 touchdown passes and 2 touchdowns runs while posting 242 yards through the air and 122 on the ground!

Washington-Wilkes 26, Harlem 14

Senior quarterback Donovan Anthony and sophomore receiver Dalen Cobb connected through the air 8 times for 197 passing yards and a touchdown. Anthony also ran for another two scores for the Tigers (1-1), which will face Stratford (0-2) Friday at home. Harlem (0-2) will host Glenn Hills this week in the first week of region play for the teams.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Jefferson County JV tops Thomson after a fourth quarter comeback

After a long pass completion between Keyshawn Vaughner and Josh Missick gave Jefferson County a key first down with less than 4 minutes remaining, Jamario Kitchens and Justin Gomez finished off a fourth quarter Warrior comeback to give Jefferson County a 13-12 win at home over Thomson in Thursday's junior varsity game. Kitchens crossed the goal line on a short run with 2:30 remaining shortly after Vaughner, who had shouldered most of the rushing load during the game, exited the game after having the wind knocked out of him from a hard hit. Gomez followed up with a successful extra point kick to put the Warriors ahead for the first time. A few plays later, defensive back BJ Thomas ended Thomson's last good attempt to mount its own comeback with an interception near midfield that he returned into Thomson territory.

The late surge by Jefferson County marked the first time in the game that Thomson didn't seem like it was in control of the momentum. Thomson quarterback Jordan Roberts made the most of his only two quarters of action by having a hand in both of the touchdowns scored by the Bulldogs in the first half. First on his team's first possession, Roberts popped a couple nice rushing gains to move the ball from Thomson's own 2 yard line out to the 25. Then Roberts hit Sam Williams in stride on a slant route, and Williams outran everybody in Jefferson County's secondary for the majority of a 75 yard touchdown completion.

Jordan Roberts (Thomson)

Later in the second quarter, immediately after a plodding Warrior drive that ended in a short touchdown run by Vaughner that tied the game at 6, Roberts marched the Bulldogs down the field with several nice runs, including a 10 yard a score that saw Roberts finish standing up, even after he absorbed contact upon crossing the goal line.

More Junior Varsity Results

Silver Bluff and Burke County took Thursday off, but both teams marked the beginning of the 2019 season with blowout wins last week:

More Junior Varsity and Middle School action to come

This is the first season AugBball will cover junior varsity and middle school action in depth. See our first report about the beginning of the middle school season at the link below, and be on the lookout for much more.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Evans Middle improves to 2-0 with 34-0 win over Greenbrier

Brandon Mims (Evans) runs behind a Jacob Jackson block in a win over Greenbrier.

Even though Evans Middle School spent the entire first quarter playing defense, and despite the fact that the clock didn't stop during the final minutes of the second half, the Knights put 34 points on the scoreboard in Wednesday's shutout win on the road over Greenbrier. Quarterback Noah Story threw two touchdown passes, one to Mason Short and another to Rayshaun King, in a 20 point second quarter for the Knights. And Brenden Reynolds scored two second half touchdowns to help finish the rout.

Wednesday's result was the second lopsided win in two outings this season for Evans following last Wednesday's 40-14 win at home over Stallings Island. Head coach Blake Crewe explained why he is satisfied that his players are learning valuable lessons despite experiencing relatively few obstacles on the field so far:

"The best thing about this group is that they play for each other. You see our receivers and how they block for our running backs," Crewe told me in a post game interview. "That carries over where we try to get them the ball also. So they feed into hard work and playing for each other."

Mason Short (Evans) drags a defender into the end zone in Wednesday's win.

The game highlight footage above supports Crewe's point because tight end Mason Short (38) and receiver Jaden McCladdie (28) can be seen clearing space for teammates Jacob Jackson (26) and Brenden Reynolds (13) to score on three occasions. And both Short and McCladdie were repaid when Story found them both for short completions that turned into touchdowns after some physical running after the catch by both players, although McCladdie's touchdown was called back due to a penalty on Evans.

"Jaden McCladdie... he was a beast out there for us today," Crewe said. "We ran to his side quite a bit tonight just because of the way he was blocking."

The Knights celebrate after Wednesday's win.

The remaining four regular season games and the one post season game for the Knights will be played on the next five Tuesdays, as is the case for all eight Columbia County schools, with the exception of Lakeside's game against Grovetown. (That contest will be played next Wednesday at Grovetown.) This season is only the second in which a Columbia County middle school championship game will be played, and October 8 is the scheduled date.

The next three teams on the schedule for Evans were all victorious in week 2 as well. Next Tuesday the Knights will visit Riverside, winners over Columbia yesterday 14-8. On September 7, Evans will host Grovetown, who just topped Stallings Island 20-0. And the Knights will visit Harlem, 30-8 winners Wednesday over Lakeside, on September 24 before closing the regular season at home October 1 against Columbia.

More Middle School Coverage

AugBball's first season of middle school football coverage saw updates about standout individual performers from Thomson, Augusta Christian and Evans:

Thomson Middle School, which probably has the best team in the CSRA, also won by a large margin yesterday, blitzing Warren County 53-0. The Bulldogs' thumping of Washington County last week was the first middle school game of the season to be featured here:

Despite that thrashing, Washington County's well established reputation for athletic excellence was not in any way tarnished because of the kind of perseverance shown in moments like this:

Coming soon...

Coverage of Aiken County, Burke County and Richmond County action will come soon when those teams begin their seasons in earnest. And hopefully the best players from the various counties in the area will all come together right before Christmas to participate in the 9th annual CSRA All Star Bowl. AugBball and SUVtv will broadcast live all four games from that event: the Middle School All Star Bowl, the Underclassmen All Star Bowl, the Junior All Star Bowl and the Senior All Star Bowl Games.

This is the link for aspiring all stars to register:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Week Two High School Football Review: Wagener-Salley scorches the scoreboard, Jaden Taylor lights it up, Aquinas pulls out a dramatic victory and much more

Kevin Jackson (6) scored 3 touchdowns in Wagener-Salley's win Friday.

During the season's second week, which unlike week one saw all games completed in full and on schedule, we learned more about the area's top performing teams, including the following:

  • Burke County will not simply run over EVERY opponent in its way like it did in week one
  • But Barnwell might
  • Aquinas's offense will most definitely continue to run, but the Irish defense will also stop the run
  • No team runs quite like Wagener-Salley, with its plethora of playmakers
  • Washington County can run against the best teams
  • Lakeside's Jaden Taylor runs AND throws with the best of them
  • So does a new kid on the block, Fox Creek sophomore Jadon Johnson
  • Now a veteran, Hephzibah's Marshall Chambers can also run his way into a highlight reel
  • Strom Thurmond may be poised for quite a run against a slate of larger schools
  • North Augusta and Grovetown's defenses can be counted on to steady things
  • Saluda and Silver Bluff are likely ready for the difficult schedule that lies ahead
  • Cross Creek and Westside are showing positive signs
  • Richmond's defense and special teams are a bright point

Below you will find further details in support of the points made above as well as a view toward this Friday's games of note in the area.

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Week 2 Review

#3 Wagener-Salley 42, Fox Creek 20

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After a blistering start for both teams which saw a combined 5 touchdowns scored on the first 6 series of the game, Wagener-Salley ran off 30 unanswered points, including 24 in the final 7 minutes of the second quarter, to take a commanding victory on the road. During the closing minutes of the first half, the War Eagles benefitted from the big play capabilities of a trio of speedsters - Kaleb Shaw, Kevin Jackson and Antonio Swedenburg - who all scored touchdowns and accounted for long runs during the decisive stretch.

First Shaw scored the touchdown that, after a 2 point conversion, tied the game at 20 with 6:12 left in the first half. Shaw's scamper was a blurring 68 yard dash that started around the right end, and then quickly sped down the right sideline before it suddenly crossed the middle of the field and ended in the left corner of the end zone.

Minutes later it was Jackson's turn to make a big play. The senior, who rushed for 3 touchdowns and 136 yards on 16 carries, sprang free for a 37 yard gain that eventually led to a 4 yard score that gave Wagener-Salley a 26-20 advantage with 3:43 left in the first half. 

Finally, after a safety caused by a high snap on a Fox Creek punt attempt from their end zone, it was time for Swedenburg to turn on the jets. The junior receiver caught a pass from Gaige Starnes behind the line of scrimmage and ran 23 yards for a touchdown, breaking a couple tackles along the way. After Swedenburg closed the late first half fireworks with a 2 point conversion run, the War Eagles appeared to have taken complete command of the game.

Jadon Johnson - Fox Creek

Fox Creek did threaten to close the gap on their first offensive series of the third quarter. Sophomore quarterback Jadon Johnson led the Predators on a drive that stalled in the red zone after a pair of incompletions that were both inches away from turning the game into a one score affair. First Johnson connected with Deavion Scales in the right corner of the end zone, only Scales's foot was on the sideline when he made the catch. Then on fourth down, Johnson's toss to Malik Williams was a little low, and Williams couldn't handle it, resulting in a turnover on downs.

Up to that point, Johnson had played a nearly flawless game in his first start. The sophomore passed for 146 yards and two touchdowns, one to Scales on the first drive of the game, and the other to Jatonious Butler in the second quarter to give the Predators a 20-12 advantage. He also ran for 76 yards and another score.

Aquinas 16, Harlem 13

Jaden Blount - Aquinas

Aquinas handed Harlem a season opening defeat when Colson Brown drilled a 37 yard field goal with less than a minute remaining to cap off a come-from-behind Fighting Irish win. 

Harlem sprinted out to a 13-0 lead, but Aquinas's defense held the Bulldogs to zero rushing yards in the second half. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, piled up 340 yards on the ground. AJ Williams led the way with 157 yards, and Joseph Welch added 76 to go along with 2 second half rushing touchdowns.

Lakeside quarterback Jaden Taylor turned in a noteworthy stat line in the Panthers' 36-21 season opening victory over South Aiken. Taylor completed 16 of 18 pass attempts for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he rushed for another 164 yards and 3 scores on 24 carries. This completion to Zalon Hawes was certainly play-of-the-week material:

Hephzibah 33, Savannah 12

Recruit Georgia determined that the 85 yard touchdown journey taken by Hephzibah's Marshall Chambers was impressive enough to make its list of top plays (see above). Like Lakeside, Hephzibah opened their season with a win after having their game cancelled the Friday before because of the lightning storm.

Richmond 3, Westside 0

Judson Pickett's 30 yard field goal provided the difference in this defensive battle. Westside's defense showed immense improvement compared to recent seasons, but Richmond's defense was even better by not allowing the Patriots near scoring position.

More notes

After manhandling Benedictine in its first game, Burke County met its match on the road at Ware County, falling 23-10.

Barnwell posted more than 60 points for the second consecutive week in a victory over Blackville-Hilda. Last season's South Carolina class 2A state runner up won 62-18 after thumping Williston-Elko 69-14 in week one.

Washington County followed a season opening 42-7 victory over Baldwin on a neutral field with a 28-20 road win over Jefferson County in a non region matchup between teams that reached last season's class 2A state playoff quarterfinals.

Strom Thurmond rebounded nicely from last week's crushing loss to Saluda by thumping Aiken 45-0. The Rebels are the defending champs of their class 3A region, and they will get a chance to prove they can beat up to three more class 4A schools before league play begins. The first opportunity will come this Friday when Strom Thurmond will host South Aiken in WJBF's featured game.

Saluda squashed Ridge Spring-Monetta 41-6 and Cross Creek handled Butler 36-20. And Saluda topped Williston-Elko 20-6 ahead of Friday's challenge against Barnwell.

Finally, Grovetown and North Augusta both earned wins over opponents from each other's region by allowing no touchdowns on defense. Grovetown stomped Midland Valley 27-0, while North Augusta topped Evans 14-7 when Evans scored on a fumble recovery and return by its defense.

The Warriors and the Yellow Jackets, both champions last season in our area's highest classifications - Grovetown in Georgia's class 6A and North Augusta in South Carolina's class 4A - will square off this Friday in the AugBball Football Game of the Week Powered by SUVtv. Both teams took defeats and failed to score in their week one games. Now that each team has evened its record at 1-1, we will get to see which team will take a 2 game winning streak into week 4.