Being a former quarterback in high school and college, Josh Stepp values good receivers.
Stepp definitely has a talented group in his third year as coach at Lexington. The group made up of Jayson Hopper, Tyler Schadewald, Oscar Ferguson, Jason Rumph and Daquan Wells has been a key factor in Lexington’s success this season.
The Wildcats, who have won 12 straight games, will go for their first state title trip since 2000 when they travel to Spartanburg on Friday in the Class 4A, Division II semifinals.
“What a phenomenal group. It is a luxury to have,” Stepp said. “This is one of the best groups, collectively, I had a chance to coach. It is fun group. They play hard and play together. It is a special group for sure.
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“Very rare in a high school setting you can get those kinds of players in a high school setting in the same year. It has been a treat for us as an offensive staff to be able to coach those guys.”
Led by Hopper, a Shrine Bowl selection, and Schadewald, a North-South pick, the group has accounted for all but 118 of the team’s 2,596 yards receiving this season. They had all 250 receiving yards in last week’s 30-13 win over Blythewood.
Hopper and Schadewald have been friends since they were children, and played on the same youth football team together with Schadewald at QB and Hopper at receiver. The two said that chemistry is a big plus both on and off the field.
“We are like brothers. We know everything about each other,” Schadewald said. “We just have fun.”
Stepp says Hopper has the best hands out of anyone he has coached, and is the go-to guy when they need a big catch. Schadewald is the team’s “game-breaker” and averages nearly 20 yard per catch. He showed his big-play ability against Blythewood when he hauled in a 65-yard pass from Brandon Blake.
“Tyler is a really underrated player who people don’t really see unless you line up against him,” Hopper said.
Ferguson, a sophomore, had a breakout game last week after he hauled in eight passes for a career-high 129 yards. Schadewald said the sophomore is the smartest of the bunch, and they go to him when they have any questions on a route or play.
At 6-foot-6, Rumph, a transfer from White Knoll, is tallest of the group and is one of the team’s best blockers. And Stepp called Wells, who also is one of the team’s top defensive backs, “electrifying” with the ball in his hands.
“We are just a bunch of guys who make the best of the opportunities the best we can,” Hopper said.
With so much talent in the receiving group, Stepp said the biggest challenge is making sure each gets enough touches during the game. He said he charts targets and receptions during the game, but doesn’t have to worry about any complaints from one of his guys if they feel they aren’t getting the ball enough.
“It’s impossible to feed that many mouths on a Friday night,” Stepp said. “But that group is great from that aspect they don’t care how many balls they catch as long as we are winning.”
All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Class 4A, Division I
Dorman at Byrnes
Goose Creek at Fort Dorchester
Class 4A, Division II
Lexington at Spartanburg
Nation Ford at Northwestern
Union County at South Pointe
Myrtle Beach at Midland Valley
Class 2A Division I
At Benedict College
Newberry vs. Dillon, 7 p.m.
At Benedict College
Class A, Division I
Southside Christian vs. Allendale Fairfax, noon
Class A, Division II
Lamar vs. C.E. Murray, 3 p.m.
Class 2A, Division II
Abbeville vs. Silver Bluff, 6 p.m.