Sumter looks to clean off the rust

Barnes hoping for more intensity from Gamecocks against West Florence


The Sumter High School varsity football team used its week off to make some personnel changes and work on making some improvements.

The Gamecocks came back with a 31-20 victory over South Florence last week in the Region VI-5A opener for both teams.

While obviously happy to get the victory and improve to 5-1 overall, SHS head coach Mark Barnes wasn't entirely pleased with his team's performance.

"We were alright," Barnes said. "We were a little rusty though. The week off gives you time to work on things, but then it gets you out of your routine.

"We didn't play with a lot of enthusiasm at times," he added. "We didn't seem to have a lot of energy at times. We've addressed that this week though."

Sumter heads back to Florence and War Memorial Stadium again today for a 7:30 p.m. contest against 1-5 West Florence. The Knights lost to Conway 35-7 in their region opener last week.

The Gamecocks, tied for sixth among 5A schools in the S.C. Media Prep Football Poll, led 24-7 at halftime against SF. They pulled the reins back a bit in the second half as quarterback Zykiem Jackson was playing hurt.

"Offensively, we did a really good with the option in the first half," Barnes said. "We didn't do it as much in the second half because Zykiem was banged up a bit and we didn't want him out there taking those hits."

Jackson led the Gamecocks in rushing with 107 yards on 17 carries. He completed just 6 of 18 passes for 84 yards, but two of the completions went for touchdowns.

Barnes said Jackson was back at practice on Monday. He is the team's leading rusher with 662 yards and one TD on 89 carries and has completed 56 of 98 passes for 656 yards and six scores against four interceptions.

Three of West Florence's five losses have come by six points or less.

The Knights' offense revolves around junior running back Ailym Ford. He has rushed for 941 yards and eight touchdowns on 121 carries. He has rushed for over 100 yards in five of the six games, including 292 in a 34-31 loss to Wilson.