Maintaining momentum

Barons, Generals each look to build off big wins as SCISA rivals set to clash in Dalzell


Both the Wilson Hall and Thomas Sumter Academy football teams have momentum heading into today's matchup at General Field in Dalzell - although they came about it in much different ways.

The Barons turned in a dominant performance against Cardinal Newman in a 35-0 victory that was highlighted by the WH secondary's four interceptions.

The Generals meanwhile had to almost march the entire length of the field in the final 2-plus minutes to pull of a game-winning touchdown in a 32-28 win over Augusta Christian School.

Both are looking for that momentum to carry over into the 7:30 p.m. contest as the two teams take a break from region play to renew their rivalry.

"I thought by far (last week) was the best we've played," Wilson Hall head coach Adam Jarecki said. "It was a complete game. We did well on both sides of the ball and in special teams. I just thought we had a tremendous all-around effort the whole night."

The SCISA 3A Barons improved to 3-1 overall with the shutout victory. They've outscored their opponents 66-21 during a 2-game winning streak and have scored 30 points or more in three of their four games.

Even with starting senior quarterback Jacob Cotton sidelined with an illness against CN, the WH offense still managed five scores with junior varsity quarterback Wise Segars under center.

"A lot of that goes to the fact that our JV and varsity teams practice together each week," Jarecki said. "We do the very same thing and run the same system throughout our program. I was proud of the way Wise stepped up in his role."

The 2A Generals have been firing on all cylinders offensively each of the last two weeks as well, averaging 33 points per game. TSA, which is 2-3 on the year, got four touchdown passes from quarterback Eli Kessinger - two of which went to Zach Fugate and two to Dante Linder, including the game-winning 34-yard strike as time expired. The Generals QB finished with 357 yards passing and Fugate had 176 yards receiving.

"It was a heck of a play and the kids really responded with that drive," TSA head coach Troy Kessinger said. "They played their hearts out and competed.

"...They don't get down and they don't give up. They've battled in every game so far. Hopefully this will help us turn a corner and let them understand that at any time we can get things done."

Coach Kessinger was also pleased with the way his defense responded a week after giving up 50 points to Spartanburg Christian.

"We've got some kids who haven't played in a while or haven't played at all and they're part of that defense that's slowly figuring things out," he said. "We got a little better last week. We were sticking to our jobs and keeping to our keys."

That will be especially critical this week when facing the Barons' run attack which churned up over 340 yards on the ground alone last week.

"They option you and they counter you, so you've just got to read your keys," Coach Kessinger said. "They've got some fast kids and some big kids up front, so it's going to be a challenge for us."

The Generals offense will likewise be the same for the Barons defense, especially the secondary. TSA has thrown the ball on average more this year than in any other time during his tenure, Coach Kessinger said.

WH's brand-new secondary has performed well as of late - registering seven picks over the last two games. Two of those were by Chandler Scott, who also finished with four tackles against the Cardinals. Mitchell Matthews had 11 tackles and two sacks.

"It was kind of the newest part of the team," Jarecki said. "Chandler Scott hadn't played football before and the other three played different positions last year. So they're brand new, but all four are some of our better athletes and they're back there for a reason.

"I think the coaches have done a nice job of preparing them for what they're going to face each week and they've responded."