PREP FOOTBALL

Action speaks louder

Lakewood’s Epps wins Defensive Player of Week honors after returning two INTs for touchdowns in 49-21 loss to Gamecocks

By DENNIS BRUNSON dennis@theitem.com
Posted 9/20/17

Lakewood High School's Travius Epps is a man of few words. He is a courteous, polite young man, putting sir at the end of his short answers.

However, there was only so much that he could say about it his performance in the Gators' football game …

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PREP FOOTBALL

Action speaks louder

Lakewood’s Epps wins Defensive Player of Week honors after returning two INTs for touchdowns in 49-21 loss to Gamecocks

Lakewood's Travius Epps (6) prepares to tackle Sumter's Melvin Lundy on a punt return in the Gamecocks' 49-21 win on Friday at Sumter Memorial Stadium. While the Gators lost the game, Epps is The Sumter Item Defensive Player of the Week after returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
Lakewood's Travius Epps (6) prepares to tackle Sumter's Melvin Lundy on a punt return in the Gamecocks' 49-21 win on Friday at Sumter Memorial Stadium. While the Gators lost the game, Epps is The Sumter Item Defensive Player of the Week after returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
MARK MORGAN / SPECIAL TO THE SUMTER ITEM
Posted

Lakewood High School's Travius Epps is a man of few words. He is a courteous, polite young man, putting sir at the end of his short answers.

However, there was only so much that he could say about it his performance in the Gators' football game against Sumter on Friday. While LHS dropped a 49-21 decision, Epps returned two interceptions for touchdowns, finishing with 115 return yards.

Because of his performance, the Lakewood strong safety was selected as The Sumter Item Defensive Player of the Week. C.E. Murray quarterback Eljah Bey is the Offensive Player of the Week, Sumter right tackle Tayvian Gass is the Offensive Lineman of the Week and Clarendon Hall's Stephen Henning is the Special Teams Player of the Week.

The quartet will be honored at the second meeting of the Sumter Touchdown Club presented by FTC on Friday. It will be held at the Swan Lake Visitors Center beginning at 7:15 a.m. The visitors center is located inside the gates of Swan Lake-Iris Gardens on West Liberty Street.

The guest speaker on Friday will be The Citadel football head coach Brent Thompson, who stepped into the head role last season and led the Bulldogs to their second straight Southern Conference title.

Epps' first interception was returned for 56 yards when he jumped a wheel route and grabbed the pass of Sumter quarterback Zykiem Jackson. It gave the Gators an early 7-0 lead.

"I read it and I just jumped the route," Epps said. "When I got it all I thought was 'I'm going to score.'"

He did and he duplicated it in the second quarter. Epps snatched another Jackson pass and took this 59 yards for a score to tie the game at 14-14.

"He rolled over the top on this one and jumped the route," Lakewood head coach Larry Cornelius said of Epps, who finished with eight solo tackles and one assist as well. "He started out high, and I don't know if (Jackson) saw him. Both of the interceptions were nice, but I thought the second one was a little better."

Epps' two pick-6s were just a couple of times the Gators stopped the SHS offense. The Gamecocks rolled up 508 yards of total offense, 345 of it coming on the ground. Gass, the 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound junior had a lot to do with that. He graded out at 79 percent and finished with eight knockdown blocks.

"Tayvian has had a couple of great games for us," said Sumter head coach Mark Barnes, whose team is 4-1 heading into an off week. "He's really progressed in his development; he has the size and he's getting stronger. He's really improved his footwork and he has the chance to be a great lineman."

Bey completed 11 of 16 passes for 292 yards and six touchdowns in C.E. Murray's 36-19 victory over Oceanside Collegiate Academy.

"He's really come a long way for us from last year," CEM head coach Chad Wilkes said of Bey. "We've gone to more of a spread offense after being a run-oriented offense last season. He's completing 67 percent of his passes, which is unheard of in 1A ball.

"One reason he's able to throw six touchdown passes on 11 completions is because of the players he's getting the ball to because they're a threat to break a long one every time they touch the ball," Wilkes added. "I call him our point guard; he does a great job of distributing the ball to our playmakers."

Henning had two kickoff returns for 55 yards and a punt return for 25 yards in Clarendon Hall's 30-28 loss to Patrick Henry Academy last Friday.