Both teams come into the match-up with 8-0 records. Byrnes, ranked second nationally in the USA Today poll, will face its toughest opponent as of yet. The Rebels will travel to W.K. Brumbach Stadium, more known as "The Reservation," to take on the 15-time state champion Indians. With Byrnes already having two wins come on national television, they will have a tough job for winning a third. The Indians were the last team to defeat the Rebels. The win is significant for the Indians because it was held in Gaffney. However, this time there will be more on the line.
For Gaffney to defeat Byrnes, it will take a team effort. More importantly, the defense will have to shut down Will Korn. Korn, the nation's number two quarterback prospect, is the nucleus of Byrnes' atom, so to speak. The team feeds off his emotion, and with a raucous crowd of Gaffney fans, the Indian Nation has a real good shot at knocking off the Rebels. Byrnes also has running back Deonte Gist, who plays bigger than his size. Gist is listed at 5'8" and 160 pounds, but will not go down after first contact. Korn's favorite target besides Gist out of the backfield is receiver Randall Hawkins. Hawkins is just a junior, but with his 6'1 frame, he makes the defenders job a whole lot difficult.
With all the attention that Byrnes has received, Gaffney will look to discontinue the Rebels hot streak. To do so, the Indians will need a valiant effort from their star quarterback Malcolm Long. Long, a senior, is in his third year as quarterback for the Tribe. The Indians have a trio rushing attack with the likes of senior Anthony Tyus, junior Steffen Foster, and sophomore Jeremiah Cochran. Along with the strong rushing attack, the Indians have an excellent receiving core for Long to connect with. Seniors Tyson Petty, Terry Barnes, and Mark Tate all have big numbers on the year. However, Long looks at more than just his backs and receivers. Senior tight end Richard Good and junior tight end David Dewberry have combined for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Offensively, the Indians should get the job done. It will be up to the defense for Gaffney to come out on top, though. The defensive line is where it all starts featuring three seniors and one junior. Joel Arriaga, Alex Evans, and Greyson Gentry are all returning starters and are beasts in the backfield. The linebacker core is just as, if not better, than Byrnes. Junior J.B. Shippy leads the team with tackles and is a headhunter. Also, Brandon Bonner and Shane Phillips have recovered fumbles each for the linebacker group. In the secondary, the group is led by Garrett Bridges. A senior, Bridges leads the team with three interceptions on the season. Senior corners Kelin Morris and Kendrick Tate have also shined. The safety position is all but locked down by junior Johnny Woods. Woods applies exactly what his last name is.
Field position will be crucial in the game and Gaffney should do a pretty good job with that. Senior Drew Howard has been booming punts all season long.
On paper, it seems that Byrnes might have the edge, but stats don't mean a thing. Look for an exciting contest at The Reservation.