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Lee Central gears up for Chesterfield after big region win

By TIM LEIBLE
tim@theitem.com
Posted 9/25/19

The Lee Central High School Stallions had a tough game to open Region IV-AA on Friday when they traveled to Pageland to face Central. Lee Central needed every point it could get against Central, as it pulled out a 19-18 victory. Head coach Justin …

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Lee Central gears up for Chesterfield after big region win

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The Lee Central High School Stallions had a tough game to open Region IV-AA on Friday when they traveled to Pageland to face Central. Lee Central needed every point it could get against Central, as it pulled out a 19-18 victory. Head coach Justin Danner said the win was exactly what his team needed to open region play.

"We got some momentum after seeing C.E. Murray and Timmonsville and felt like if we were able to put a whole game together, we'd like our chances," said Danner. "This is definitely a big momentum push. You want to be 1-0 (in the region), and to go on the road and get a tough win in a tight ball game definitely says a lot about who you are or who you can be when you're doing it the right way. We definitely want to build upon that."

Danner sees Lee Central as a defense-first team, and the Stallions proved that on Friday. After a first half that was mostly locked in a 6-6 tie, Central scored just before the break to put the Stallions in a 12-6 hole. They bounced back in the second half. The offense stepped up with two touchdowns and the defense made a crucial stop on a 2-point conversion attempt that proved to be the game-winning stop.

"Our defense kind of bowed their neck. Even though they got scored on, they didn't give up a 2-point conversion and that ended up being really big," said Danner. "We're a defensive football team, and any time we can win a game on defense, it's definitely a tip of the cap to us. We want to be able to get the scores up as much as possible, but we rely on our stiff run game, and we rely on bringing pressure on defense."

Offensively, the run game stepped up in the second half. Jalen McCray finished with 100 yards on the ground on just 10 attempts, scoring a touchdown along the way. Quarterback Jaquaze Myers rushed for 75 yards and a score, while also passing for 85 yards, going 3-for-5. Edward Benjamin scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the third, rushing for 64 yards on seven attempts. Those runners were aided by an excellent offensive line, which Danner challenged at the half to make sure his backs had room to run.

"More than anything we challenged our offensive line to step up. Pageland is very, very tough, and they hit us in the mouth in the first half," said Danner. "We really had to find ourselves and challenged our kids at halftime to say, 'If we're not gonna block them, we can't win'. I think they took the challenge and came out and gave us their best effort. We were able to run the football and that's what mattered."

Lee Central is now 4-1 and has won its last four games. That gives the Stallions some momentum as it plays host to Chesterfield on Friday. Chesterfield enters the contest 1-3, having lost its region opener to Buford 13-3. Danner is taking nothing for granted with the Rams.

"I know they're 0-1 in the region, and they'll be very hungry to get a win," said Danner. "Our work is cut out for us on Friday night."

The Rams have traditionally passed a ton, but they haven't found much success through the air this year. Josh Adams has thrown for 423 yards and three scores, but has also thrown 12 interceptions. The Rams have tried to run the ball more this season and are led by Quan Brown on the ground. Brown has rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Danner calls the matchup with Chesterfield a key building block for his team, as it has a chance to head into its bye week with a 2-0 record in the region.

"This is a huge game for us. We go on a bye next week, and in the middle of the season everyone is getting bumped up and playing some tough opponents. So far, we're bumped up a little," said the Lee Central head coach. "We definitely want to pull it all together and go out and have a good showing on Friday and be able to go into our bye week and really be able to get healthy. Our next two football games are at home, and we'll be trying to see if we can handle business there, so this is a huge game for us."