High school football | commentary

Baxter: Controversy overshadows upsets

November 24, 2013 

WHILE WE’VE had one of the best weekends this season, the big story should have been about the upsets. But that was overshadowed by a nasty finish in a battle between Class 4A power Byrnes and Lexington.

With Byrnes up 56-21 and 23 seconds left, Rebels coach Bobby Bentley decided to call timeout so they could get another touchdown for a 63-21 score. See Chris Dearing’s article from at thestate.com for more on the incident.

As a coach, I have no problem with a team running its playbook. If throwing to the end zone is what you do, then it is the defense’s responsibility to stop it.

The problem I have is with calling timeout in order to do it. Bentley stated he did it to “protect my players” in a heated game. I would say with 23 ticks left, the best way to protect the players is to take a knee.

For a program that boasts teaching integrity and character to young men, I feel they missed out on a teaching opportunity Friday night.

Now, for the real story: playoffs. With the win, Byrnes will face a Dutch Fork team that beat Spring Valley in overtime, 31-28.

I don’t think it’s a good matchup for Dutch Fork and, as much as I’d like to see a Midlands team in the title game, I’m not sure they can trade scores with Byrnes.

The big story is about sleepers. In 4A-Div. I, Sumter has pulled off consecutive upsets and find itself in the semifinals against Summerville. I believe the Gamecocks will knock off the Greenwave and play in the state title game.

In 4A-Div. II, , No. 8 seed South Pointe shocked the state as it beat Goose Creek, 30-27. South Pointe is the most improved team in the class and we’re going to see a great battle as they take on Stratford, which manhandled South Florence, 30-14.

In 3A Chapman might be the biggest sleeper in the state. The Panthers limped into region play with injuries, but got healthy before the playoffs and have pulled off three consecutive road upset wins, beating Chapin, Wren and Belton-Honea Path. The Panthers are dangerous with quarterback Malik Gray and receiver Debo Samuel.

Also in 3A, Marlboro County, considered a sleeper because of being a No. 3 seed, traveled to Socastee and dominated the Braves, 40-25. I predicted in the preseason that it would play for the state championship against Daniel and both are in the semifinals.

The Bulldogs will face another sleeper, Myrtle Beach, which upset Strom Thurmond on the road. The Myrtle Beach defense picked off the Rebels’ Jau’veer Hammond three times and took one for a touchdown.

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