Tonight at South Aiken will mark the biggest game in recent school history as the 5-0 throughbreds go against the similiarly undefeated Yellow Jacket squad of TL Hannah. Something will have to give in this match-up and it should boil down to a classic clash of styles between two very different ballclubs which yeild similiar results.
The Yellow Jackets come into this game both untested and unchallenged. They have surprised many in the Anderson area by winning big in their first five games by an average score of 35 to 9. The team posesses an explosive offensive attack led by junior running back Rafeal Little and senior quarterback Lafayette Galloway. Little has been one of the better runningbacks in the state this year and possesses big play ability and is often utilized all over the feild for the jackets. Galloway is a very capable QB and has guided the high powered Hannah offense to numerous notable performances.
Defensively, TL Hannah is likewise turning a lot of heads with their ability to force turnovers and shut down opposing offenses. Their trademarks thus far have been their ability to stuff the run and create turnovers in the passing game. The Hannah defense is led by Little and junior defensive back Andy Mowlajko . Mawlajko was very instrumental in TL Hannah's victory over Boiling Springs last week, picking off four passes and leading a superb defensive effort.
The Thoroughbreds come into the game as a slightly more tested and slightly less impressive bunch on paper. South Aiken has won their first five games by an average of 26 to 12 and have been pushed into overtime once and won by a point last week in snapping the two time defending Class AA champions Silver Bluff's three year home winning streak. That game was considered as South Aiken's first true test of the 2002 campaign and they passed it, thoguht not by much. The t-bred are led offensively by senior runningback Rashad Hunter, junior quarterback Byron Bush, and senior offensive lineman Jerome Dunbar. Hunter, at over 1200 yards, is the state's leading rusher thus far. Much of his sucess can be attributed to a very solid and experienced South Aiken offensive line that has four seniors and five returners anchoring them from end to end. Cheif among this group is Jerome Dunbar. Dunbar (6'3" 340) is one of the top rated linemen in the state and averages about 10 pancake blocks a game. Bush is a mobile threat from the QB spot and an improving passer.
Defensively, the Thoroughbreds are led by seniors Will Durett, Leonard Davis, and Josh Gantt. Durrett is among the top ten defensive linemen in the state and is South Aiken's primary run stopper. Davis is an excellent rush and containment end, as he leads the team in sacks and total tackles. Gantt has exploded onto the scene in 2002 to become one of the top linebackers in the CSRA for South Aiken as well as a defensive leader for the team. Those three, along with Dunbar are the team captains for South Aiken and sucess for the t-breds would rest heavily on the effectiveness of it's much improved defense in 2002.
South Aiken rush vs. Hannah rush defense
Nobody has been able to stop Hunter this year and sucess for Tl Hannah may just have to rely on that facet of the game. South Aiken brings one of the better offensive lines in the state against one of the better teams at stopping the tunr thus far in 2002. Whoever wins this battle will definitely have a leg up in winning the war.
TL Hannah speed vs. South aiken contain
Much was made last week of South Aiken's ability to shut down the speedy Silver Bluff squad from breakign containment and running away from South Aiken as in years past. The t-breds will need much of the same this week against a dynamic and explosive Hannah offense that can score quickly and potentially from anywhere on the field. If Hannah can run free, the game could be very much over by half-time.
Emotion vs. Big Game mentality
Both teams come into this game riding an emotional crest and high that is relatively new to them when compared to their past teams and performances. The team that can best adjust to the high level of energy and excitement on the feild Friday night will be the team that can establish themselves and assert their will. Simply, whoever can overcome the nerves and settle down will be at an advantage.
With that being said, I look forward to one of the best games in the state visiting my backyard this weekend. There's no place I'd rather be on a Friday night and if you're not doing anything' I'd encourage you to take a ride to Aiekn as well. It promises to be an exciting and intense game as well as an electric atmosphere.
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