Site: Death Valley, Clemson. Time: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Storyline: Byrnes is on the verge of establishing a new order of dynasty, if it can defeat Sumter in the season finale. If successful, it would mark the Rebels’ sixth state championship in the past seven years – an unprecedented stretch of domination in South Carolina prep football annals. Byrnes is the third school to claim five championships in a six-year period. The old Epworth Orphanage was the first to do so, winning five Class C titles between 1934 and 1939. Woodruff, under legendary coach Willie Varner, had a run of five Class 2A titles in six tries between 1975 and 1980. Byrnes is 96-5 since the start of its historic rise to power in 2002.
Sumter notes: The Gamecocks (12-2) earned their first state championship bid since 2003 by defeating Rock Hill 35-14 in the Class 4A Division I semifinals last week. It is the eighth championship game for Sumter since first reaching the finals in 1985. The Gamecocks are 2-5 in title bouts, beating Spartanburg 24-21 in 1987 and Rock Hill 17-7 in 1990, but they have lost four championship games in a row since 1990. Sumter’s all-time state playoff record is 45-31, good for a .592 postseason winning percentage. Only 13 schools have played in more playoff games than Sumter since the start of the modern era in 1970 … The Gamecocks enter the game averaging 37.5 points and 391.3 offensive yards a game. The defense averages are 17 points and 252.4 yards. Sumter stands at +13 on the takeaway/giveaway charts … The offensive stars are senior running back Roderick McDowell and junior quarterback Stephen Curtis. McDowell 2,707 all-purpose yards, 28 touchdowns and 170 total points on the books. The Clemson-bound McDowell has run for 1,778 yards and 23 TDs on 222 carries, and has 23 receptions for 359 yards and four scores. He is averaging 33.3 yards on 16 kick returns and has one special teams TD. Curtis is 130-for-237 passing for 2,188 yards and 23 touchdowns, along for 398 yards and 11 TDs on 140 carries … Cardell Scarborough is a nice opting in the running game with four scores and a 7.1 per-carry average on 59 totes … Tyler Smith, Danelle Duncan, Travis Fredimon and Avery Woods comprise a deep receicing corps. Smith leads the team with 32 catches for 561 yards and seven TDs, followed by Duncan (30-544-2), Fredimon (21-410-5) and Woods (20-258-3) … Kicker Ross Watson is 58-for-58 in PATs, but is only 4-for-12 in field goal attempts. Michael Snyder is averaging 30.5 yards on 45 punts … The defensive headliners include Quinn McClendon, Timmy Rogers, Khalil Malone, Marquell Benjamin and Fredimon. McClendon leads the team with 140 total tackles, including four sacks, 18 TFL and two interceptions. Rogers has 124 tackles, three sacks, 12 TFL, one interception and two fumbles recoveries. Malone has 78 tackles, three sacks, 10 TFL and three fumble recoveries. Benjamin has 47 tackles, 14 TFL and five sacks. Fredimon has six of the team’s 15 interceptions.
Byrnes notes: The Rebels (13-1) avenged a bitter regular-season loss to Dorman last week, downing the Cavaliers 24-13 last week in the state semifinals. The previous loss cost the Rebels a possible mythical national prep title, but last week’s win keep’s alive the quest for glory here at home … Offensively, the Rebels are as potent as ever, averaging 42.5 points and 406.4 yards a game. The “Strike Force” defense has been nearly as impressive, surrendering just 10.8 points and 190.5 yards per outing … Quarterback Chas Dodd and running back Marcus Lattimore have the big numbers. Dodd is 196-for-351 passing for 2,752 yards and 28 touchdowns and is a virtual lock to surpass the 6,000-yard career mark on Saturday. Lattimore has 2,009 yards rushing on 269 carries, 25 receptions for 330 yards, 28 total touchdowns and 176 points … Nick Jones is the top receiver with 62 catches for 798 yards and six scores, while Ricco Sanders (37-713-6), Jazz King (32-494-5) and Torian Richards (27-290-3) are inviting targets in their own right … Kicker Jordan Miller is 62-for-67 in PATs and 8-for-12 in field goal attempts. He is also averaging 30.2 yards on 53 punts … Brandon Willis, Corey Miller, Skylar Franklin, Danzel Collins, Justin Bright, Daniel Cleveland, Jamian Kelly and Riyahd Richardson are the stars on the defensive side. Willis had 144 tackles, 24 TFL,13 sacks and 39 quarterback hurries. Miller has 122 tackles, 17 TFL, eight sacks and 31 QH. Collins has 110 tackles, 23 TFL, seven sacks and 27 QH. Franklin has 116 tackles, 13 TFL, six sacks and 14 QH. Bright has 100 tackles and three interceptions. Cleveland has 99 tackles, eight TFL, six sacks and 13 QH. Richardson has 91 tackles and a team high five interceptions … The Rebels stand at 46-14 in state playoff matters since 1970, and their .767 postseason winning percentage is at the top of the state list. Byrnes is 8-1 in state championship games, winning six straight title bouts. The last loss was a 14-13 decision in 1985 against now defunct Hillcrest (Dalzell). For the record, the Rebels’ title wins have come against Bishop England (34-0) in 3A in 1976, Myrtle Beach (9-6) in 3A in 1982, Berkeley (41-14) in 4A II in 1986, Conway in 4A II in 2002 (34-28) and 2003 (40-14), Irmo (35-7) in 4A II in 2004, Richland NE (51-8) in 4A II in 2005 and Summerville (48-9) in its first 4A championship game last season.
Series history: Saturday’s 4A Division I title clash marks the first-ever football meeting of the schools.