Saturday, November 01, 2008
High School Friday Nights: Ware Shoals downs 96
The crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence again thanks Ware Shoals Head Coach Jeff Murdock for allowing us sideline access to the Region championship game versus Ninety-Six.
The game was exciting. The place was packed. Fans from Ware Shoals and Ninety Six turned out and the stands were filled. To note the importance of this game, town governments in Ninety Six and Ware Shoals had dubbed Thursday night as the night for children to trick or treat so the Halloween night showdown would go forward with no conflict.
As I have written about before on this blog, Ware Shoals has one of the most exciting entrances in small high school football. This week, I had the chance to view that entrance from the field, and frankly, visitor Ninety Six seemed a bit nervous.
Those nerves proved real when Ladurius Hawthorne of Ware Shoals returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. Ware Shoals made the 2 point conversion and went up 8-0.
Ninety Six stormed back, fueled by two Ware Shoals turnovers, to take a 20-8 lead over the Hornets late in the first quarter.
That is when the game started to change. Starting with Demond Hammond's 30 yard touchdown run, the Hornets themselves stormed to a 28-20 halftime lead.
Ware Shoals seemed to be bit stunned early by the success of the trap run by Ninety Six, but the Ware Shoals coaches adjusted and the Hornets took control of the game. Lance Richardson had a 50 yard touchdown reception. Hammonds would score again from sixty yards. It added up. The game was decided.
Ninety Six scored a trash touchdown at the end of the game, but the decision was at hand. Ware Shoals won, 46-33, snapping Ninety Six's eight game winning streak and winning the regional crown for the fourth year in a row.
Both teams now enter the Class A playoffs with dreams of a championship. Both can win one without meeting one another. As the formula of the South Carolina High School League works, Ware Shoals and Ninety Six, though in the same region conference, will compete in two different divisions for the state championship. Ninety Six will compete in Class A, Division I. Ware Shoals will compete in Class A, Division II.
I worry about the Ware Shoals kicking game in close playoff games. With apologies to Coach Murdock and his able staff, it is their weak point.
But, now is not the time to dwell on such things. Now is the time to celebrate the Ware Shoals Hornets and congratulate them on a fourth consecutive region championship.
VUI wishes Coach Murdock and his staff and players all the best in the playoffs. We hope to report on them from Orangeburg in a few weeks.
Editor's note: the above photo is by Chris Maxie of Greenwood Today. The website can be be reached at www.gwdtoday.com.