HEMINGWAY, S.C. – Even a quick glance at the Class 1A state championship game participants over the past 20 years will show a few noticeable schools that keep popping up.
Lake View and Carvers Bay are certainly among that group, and the perennial contenders are looking to add 2020 to that list.
They’ll first have to deal with each other, however.
The Wild Gators and Bears meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hemingway for a spot in the lower state final in a matchup that features two power running teams and stout defenses.
“I think what they like to do is run the football right at you, too,” said Lake View coach Daryl King, whose team is 6-0. “They’re a very good football team and well-coached. Big offensive line, quick (running) backs and a good quarterback.
“Tremendous defense – just a really, really good football team.”
The respect goes both ways, as Carvers Bay coach Matt Richard echoed many of those same sentiments.
“They’ve got one of the better running backs in the state, a strong offensive line and they’re well-coached,” said Richard, whose team is 6-1. “They’ve got a lot of veterans and a lot of weapons on offense, especially in the running game.”
Those include Ja’Correus Ford who had 838 yards and 10 touchdowns prior to last week’s playoff opener for the Wild Gators. Adarrian Dawkins, Michael McInnis, Treyvon Bellmon and quarterback D.J. Bethea have provided a steady diet of rushing yards and scores as well.
“We’ve got to be aggressive,” King said. “We’ve got to come off the line of scrimmage on defense and offense. We can’t sit back and wait or they’ll just swallow us up. ...
“They do a good job of swarming to the ball, and when they get there, they get there in a hurry.”
On defense, the Bears are allowing an average of just 9.1 points per game while averaging 24 on offense.
Carvers Bay’s rushing game has started to gain some momentum the last few weeks, Richard said, and that will hopefully open things up more in the passing game.
“Offensively, getting our running game going will be big,” he said. “Joshua Walker has started to turn it on as of late. If we can get him going, (quarterback) Kayshaun Brockington can put the ball in the air and try to get it to M.J. Bromell and some of our other playmakers.”
Bromell also stars in the Bears’ secondary, and they’ll look to him to help contain the running game and slow down any big pass plays by Bethea.
“We can’t make mistakes ourselves, and we have to stay disciplined,” Richard said. “We have a young secondary led by M.J. that has played really well this year, and I think they’re up to the task.”
They’ll face a tall task, as the Wild Gators are averaging 35.7 points per game while giving up only 11.7 per game.
“Everybody’s got to have good eye discipline on defense,” King said. “If you get lulled to sleep by the run, the next thing you know, they’ll hit you over the top. You’ve got to be on your keys and read what you’re supposed to be reading.”
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