Baxter’s Blitz

Give Northwestern defense its due

scvarsity@ sc.rr.comSeptember 3, 2012 

Columnist for Midlandspreps.com, Jim Baxter.

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com Buy Photo

AFTER WATCHING the Byrnes Rebels dismantle Virginia’s 6A defending champion Oscar Smith two weeks ago, it is not difficult to understand why national polls are taking note of South Carolina teams.

The Rebels are No. 4 in the Rivals.com Top 100, while Goose Creek is 30th, Northwestern is at 62nd and South Pointe is at 64th. That was Northwestern’s debut, so I feel sure the Trojans will move up this week. I know how I will be voting. But sometimes the other voters don’t agree with me and try to play the “level of competition” card. I don’t buy that argument.

Competition in South Carolina is fierce. We may not be as deep in the number of high-caliber teams as larger states, but our best can play with any other state’s best. We’ve proved that.

Defense is secret to success

After watching film on Northwestern, I concluded that their recent success was as much a tribute to their defense as it was their high-powered AirRaid offense.

A talk with coach Kyle Richardson on Saturday morning confirmed that was the case.

Richardson went out in the offseason and brought in a new defensive coordinator who had a scheme he liked and it has been implemented.

“I wanted the kids to not have to think a whole lot and be able to just get after it on that side of the football, flying around and making big contact,” Richardson said.

“Being able to play physical football on defense and be successful in stopping our opponents has not only limited the number of opportunities that they get, but increases the touches of my own offense.”

The strategy has worked beautifully in the first three weeks, with a 3-0 start and a large margin of victory against Gaffney, Conway and South Aiken.

Players impacting the rankings

Here are the top five players impacting the team rankings with their contributions:

1. Shuler Bentley, QB, Byrnes

Bentley has thrown for close to 800 yards and eight touchdowns in his first two games and has tightened the Rebels’ grip on the No. 1 spot in South Carolina.

2. Mason Rudolph, QB, Northwestern

It’s been three consecutive weeks of over 300 yards passing and leading his team to big offensive performances. Rudolph will be the first to tell you that he has a great offensive line and outstanding receivers but make no mistake — he is the key to the Air Raid offense.

3. Akia Booker, WR, Byrnes

Booker is lethal with the ball in his hands. Against Oscar Smith two weeks ago, Booker scored five times; he also nabbed a key score in the win over Woodruff this past week.

4. Christian Hart, QB, Wando

Hart has the Warriors’ offense firing on all cylinders, completing 66 percent of his passes. He is 29-of-44 for 489 yards and four touchdowns and has the Warriors (2-0) in the top 10 for the first time in years.

5. Quayshon Myers, RB, Hammond

Myers may be small in stature, but the senior running back is a giant in the running game, rushing for 418 yards and seven touchdowns in three games, including the game-winner against Orangeburg-Prep this past week to keep the Skyhawks in the top spot of the SCISA rankings.

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