Surprising Ben Lippen travels to face surprising Heathwood Hall on Friday night in one of the more intriguing football games on the Week 4 schedule in the Midlands. Adding even more to the relevance, it is the SCISA Region 1-3A opener for both teams.
Don’t expect a defensive struggle. Both teams are rolling up yards and points at an eye-opening clip.
Ben Lippen, which supposedly was a suspect offensive team in the summer because of heavy graduation losses, has been on a roll since the first game of the season. The Falcons are 2-2, but both losses have come against public-school competition (Bishop England and Lewisville). Last week’s wild 34-28 overtime win over Pinewood Prep officially stamped Ben Lippen as a serious player in independent school matters this fall.
Two players have been key to the Falcons impressive offensive resume to date under first-year coach Reggie Shaw – quarterback Joey Carter and versatile Xan Magnum.
Carter had his worst game of the season last week, hitting on just 43% of his passes, but the yield was still 173 yards and four touchdowns. In four games, the junior is 64-for-111 passing for 909 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception since he was picked off twice by Bishop England in his starting debut.
Mangum has 160 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, has 17 catches for 282 yards and eight scores and has 207 yards and one score on kickoff returns. The fleet senior is averaging 16.5 yards every time he touches the ball. Mangum also has a flair for the dramatic – returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown last week vs. Pinewood, and catching a scoring pass with no time on the clock to send the game into overtime.
There are other weapons, as well, in the BL arsenal. Mitch Deter has 20 catches for 249 yards and two TDs, Taylor Wilson has 15 receptions for 219 yards and one score and Robert Keen has 248 yards rushing and one tally on 40 carries.
Linebacker Mic Shoemaker has been the force on defense for the Falcons with 59 tackles.
Heathwood Hall (2-1) is coming off a wild 42-37 win over Orangeburg Prep with quarterback Mac Whalen as the key operator. Whalen threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns and ran for two other scores. His 30-yard scoring strike to Davis Ray late in the fourth quarter negated a 20-0 OP surge that staked the Indians to a 37-35 lead.
Whalen, who entered the season with obviously running ability but an unproven track record as a passer, has been sensation by land and air in his first season at the position vacated by his older brother Brett. He has connected on 52 of 88 passes for 855 yards and seven touchdowns, and leads the team in rushing and scoring with 372 yards and 30 points.
Mac’s favorite target has been twin brother Morgan, who has 24 catches for 431 yards and four TDs. Ray has 12 receptions for 292 yards and three scores, and four interceptions on defense at cornerback.
Jamey Mears (32 tackles), Redding Kingery (31 tackles, 2 interceptions) and Walker Soujourner (30 tackles) have been the leaders on defense along with Ray.