Lexington experienced its first postseason success in three years last week, scoring a 42-28 win at Dorman in the first round of the Class 4A Division I state playoffs.
The reward is another trip to the Upstate and a second-round gamer against the mighty Byrnes Rebels at fabled Nixon Field. The Wildcats one and only game against JFB ended in a 31-7 semifinal loss in 2010.
The game will feature two of the most prolific passing quarterbacks in state history.
Lexingtons Will Hunter, who started the 2010 game at Nixon, has 10,082 yards and 98 touchdown passes on the books in his four-year career.
Byrnes senior Shuler, Bentley, son of Rebels coach Bobby Bentley, has thrown for 12,672 yards and an eye-opening 169 touchdown passes in his three years as the starting quarterback. Bentley tossed a state-record 59 TD passes last season and has 63 already this season.
Obviously, the vaunted Rebels, who have lost only to Northwestern in 12 outings to date, are highly favored to move on. Byrnes, after all, has reached the state championship game nine times and claimed eight titles since emerging as a nationally recognized powerhouse in 2002.
Bentley, of course, is the focus. He is 253-for-363 for 4,409 yards this season and has been intercepted just six times. Senior Shaedon Meadors is the top receiver with has 72 catches for 1,5903 yards and 28 touchdowns to date. The deep receiving corps also features Tavin Richardson (53-744-7) and Greg McHam (43-707-11).
This year, the Rebels are not nearly as ground-oriented as in the past. In fact, top rushed Isaiah Hill has 673 yards and 11 TDs in 10 games.
The Lexington defense is facing its biggest challenge of the season, especially the secondary led by Jordan Carr, who has 52 tackles, nine interceptions, six PBUs and two forced fumbles on his resume. Grayson Chumley (106 tackles, 12 TFL, 3 sacks, 5 fumble recoveries), Cameron Matthews (93 tackles) and Trey Mitchell (67 tackles, 17 TFL, 7 sacks) are other key Wildcat defensive operators.
Hunter had one of the best games of his career last week at Dorman. The senior standout was 21-for-30 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 150 yards and two scores. Hunter is 192-for-331 passing for 2,634 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.
Slade Carroll filled in admirably last week for injured running back Garvin Jackson, ringing up 173 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. Jackson has run for 1,183 yards and 12 TDs in 11 games.
Keelo Norris (71-877-8), Brentle Allen (43-533-6), Jayson Hopper (37-501-7) and Ryan Brown (31-654-6) are Lexingtons capable receiving options. Brown was the hot receiver last week with seven catches for 73 yards and one score.
Lexington is 10-2 in its first season under former Pelion star player Josh Stepp.