Bryce Thompson feels like he let his team down the last time Ben Lippen faced Porter-Gaud.
The Ben Lippen two-way standout was ejected for throwing a punch in the second quarter against P-G on Sept. 16. The Falcons went on to lose their first game of the season, 28-26.
But Thompson and Ben Lippen get another crack at P-G when the two teams meet Saturday for the SCISA Class 3A championship at Benedict College.
"Getting kicked out of game ruined our perfect season so I owe my team a lot. I feel like I owe them a game," Thompson said. "It wasn’t fair to them. I was being selfish and got kicked out. Even if I’m frustrated I need to keep it to myself because if I’m out of the game it lowers chance of our team winning. I need to be on the field to help them out."
Ben Lippen coach Derek White said his junior star learned from his mistake and definitely doesn’t see it happening again.
"He has matured a lot as a person and individual," White said. "It was unfortunate what happened down there and he has learned for it. We are all humans and make mistakes so we correct them."
After losing to P-G, the Falcons lost the next week to Pinewood Prep with Thompson serving his one-game suspension. But since then, Ben Lippen has won five straight games, including last week’s 41-14 win over defending state champion Hammond in the semifinals to earn their first trip to the title game since 1998.
Ben Lippen also defeated Hammond, ending the Skyhawks’ 27-game winning streak, the week before it played P-G (10-1) earlier in the season.
We can’t lose our focus. I think it happened a little bit last time. We got a little too confident after beating Hammond. We kind of fell asleep the next week but we learned from it. We can’t get a big head about last week, and we got to play one of our best games," tight end/defensive lineman Garrison Moore said. "There definitely is some excitement buzzing around the school. Everyone is waiting to see what happens on Saturday. We have a good feeling about it."
White isn’t worried about an emotional letdown this time around or the stage being too big for his players, many of which weren’t born the last time the Falcons played in the title game. The players and coaches seemed relaxed and at ease this week, blaring music during practice and enjoying preparing to possibly win the school’s first football championship.
"It is a special moment. You don’t always get to do it," White said. "It is another game but it is special and not everyone gets a chance to do it so enjoy it, soak it in and give it all you got."
SCISA State Championships
At Benedict College
Robert E. Lee vs. First Baptist, noon
Dillon Christian vs. Colleton Prep, 3:30 p.m.
Ben Lippen vs. Porter-Gaud, 7:30 p.m.
8-Man Division I
At Wilson Hall
Holly Hill vs. Wardlaw, 1 p.m.