ROCK HILL — They’ve heard about Goose Creek for almost two years.
Now, after dismantling Irmo 30-0 Friday night, South Pointe gets to face the undefeated No. 1 seed Gators in the second round of the Class 4A Division II football playoffs. It’s a matchup the Stallions relish.
“We know they’re good, and we don’t care,” South Pointe coach Strait Herron said. “We’ve always said we’ll play anybody, anywhere, any time, and this will be a great thing. We’re gonna learn something from it either way.”
Chuck Reedy’s program was evicted from the playoffs last season due to an eligibility snafu, but the Gators haven’t lost a game since the 2011 regular season finale — 28 straight games. The Stallions (10-2) set up a meeting with the vaunted Low-Country juggernaut by following a tried and true recipe, equal parts pounding the football on the ground and causing chaos on defense.
“We challenged our offensive and defensive line and told them ‘this is where the game’s gonna be won,’ ” Herron said, his hood up to deflect a steady rain. “Both of them stepped up. We had running lanes all night long and our defense put pressure on 15 (Irmo QB Demetrius Lewis).”
Led by sophomore quarterback Zaylin Burris’ 117 yards and a touchdown, South Pointe rushed the ball 59 times for 338 yards, while limiting Irmo (6-6) to 224 yards of offense and less than 100 yards on the ground, the Stallions’ ninth such effort in 11 games. Zeek Rodney, Matt Newman, Jontae Henry and Nick Adams all were in on sacks as the Stallions shut out their third opponent this season, despite missing starting linebacker Demon Davis.
“In practice, we knew he was gonna run around, so we had scramble drills to try to get to him before the quarterback threw the ball,” said Rodney, referring to Lewis. “We told the secondary if they could hold them for two and half seconds, we could get some pressure on them.”
South Pointe revealed its primary offensive aims on the first drive. Utilizing the zone read to blistering effect, Burris either tucked the ball into Josh Brice’s mesh zone or kept it himself. On the initial possession, Burris picked up 25, Brice 16, and then Burris went for 19 as South Pointe plowed over the visitors. Burris capped off the impressive drive by twisting into the end zone from 3 yards out.
The hosts didn’t score again until their final drive of the half. All the while, the defense was busy putting together a typically stingy performance. Irmo punted on four of its first half possessions, the other two ending on an interception and halftime. The Stallions took a 14-0 lead into the break thanks to Kyle Brandt’s 12-yard touchdown catch from Burris.
South Pointe jumped right on Irmo’s backs in the second half. Henry sacked Lewis, before Rodney and Tay Robinson-Locke shared a half sack each, forcing Bob Hanna’s side to punt again.
“I told the offense if they score just one time, we’re confident enough in our defense that they weren’t going to put any points up on us,” said Rodney.
Anthony Johnson kept the ensuing drive breathing with a tidy toe-tap on the sideline for a 35-yard pickup, and bruising sophomore Vinny Emmanuele punctuated the drive with a 3-yard run to make it 21-0.
South Pointe then stopped Irmo on fourth down, before dropping Ronnie Jamison in the end zone on the following drive for a safety. The Stallions took advantage of a short field and Bree Minor brushed off a tackle before rumbling into the end zone for a 21-yard score.
The win secured South Pointe’s fifth straight season with 10 wins or more.