The Sumter High School football team will not only be getting a team with which it isn't very familiar in the first round of the 5A state playoffs, it will be going up against an unfamiliar offense as well.
The Gamecocks will play host to …
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The Gamecocks will play host to Woodmont on Friday at Memorial Stadium's Freddie Solomon Field beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the game are $8 per person and only South Carolina High School League passes will be accepted.
Woodmont is located in Piedmont, which is near Greenville. The Wildcats are 6-4 on the season and finished fourth in the 8-team Region I. They are coached by Mayesville native and former Wilson Hall head coach Jet Turner and run the run-heavy Wing-T offense.
"What they run is something that we're not used to seeing very much," said SHS head coach Mark Barnes, whose team comes into the playoffs with a 9-0 record for the second straight season. "The Wing-T uses a lot of misdirection and fakes, so you have to pay attention to what is going on. They like to be a power running team, but we like to be a power team on defense, so that will be a challenge for us."
Woodmont went 4-3 in region play in Turners' third season at the school. The Wildcats are averaging 26.3 points a game and allowing 18.2
Defending the Wing-T is difficult because of all of the sleight of hand. That means defenders can't attack as they are normally taught.
"You have to be sound defensively," said Barnes, whose team is ranked fifth in the final 5A poll of the season by S.C. Prep Media Football Poll. "You have to play your assignments. If you stay where you're supposed to, the ball will eventually come to you. Then you have to make the tackle."
Sumter goes into the game averaging 45.8 points a contest while allowing just 11. The offense has slowed down a bit in the last three games, scoring 28, 30 and 34 points in wins over Blythewood, Spring Valley and Irmo. Barnes feels good about the way the offense is performing though.
"We've had to go back to more of our style of running the football with the loss of Tony (Dinkins-McCall to a torn anterior cruciate ligament)," Barnes said. "We're having to be more of a power running team with Nathan (Harris-Waynick), but I feel like we're doing good.
"Our passing game is still good," he added. "(Quarterback) Hayden (Vasquez) is averaging (175 yards) a game, and it could be more (if not for the blowouts)."
After having a monster game of 265 yards rushing against Spring Valley in his first start, Harris-Waynick ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns against Irmo. He has 812 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season.
Vasquez has completed 103 of 167 passes for 1,579 and 14 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. Marcus Lane is the leading receiver with 36 catches for 560 yards and three TDs, while Shrine Bowl selection Tylee Craft had 32 catches for 526 yards and five TDs.
Barnes said he is still looking for his team to play a complete game.
"It's just disappointing that as a team we haven't played a complete game yet," Barnes said. "We want one where we play good for four quarters."
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