Yafari Werts’ playmaking ability creates plenty of problems, and not just for opposing defenses.
The Newberry quarterback’s scrambling and ability to extend plays creates a different set of problems for his own offensive linemen.
“You never know what he is going to do, if he is going to run or throw,” Newberry Shrine Bowl offensive lineman Demarcus Gillmore said. “Sometimes, we got to block a little longer or sometimes he just takes off. When he takes off, we just run with him.”
Gillmore and the rest of the Bulldogs linemen have done their best to keep up with Werts, who will wrap up his high school career Friday when Newberry takes on Dillon for the second straight year in the Class 2A Division I championship game. Newberry lost to Dillon 49-27 last season.
But the play of Werts, a Georgia Southern commit and Shrine Bowl selection, is one of the reasons Newbery has made it back to the title game. He has thrown and rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season with 31 touchdowns.
“There is so much he can do,” Newberry coach Phil Strickland said of Werts. “He is electrifying with the ball in his hands. He is a good leader and doesn’t make many mistakes.”
Werts, who is known more for his running skills than passing, showed his throwing ability against Fairfield Central in the upper state championship last week. He was 10-of-16 for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think I have developed as a passer. I have always been a good runner,” Werts said. “I trust my teammates more. I owe to them to win this game because they work hard for me.”
Werts’ play has impressed Dillon coach Jackie Hayes, who has his own Division I quarterback in Avery McCall. Hayes said Werts is a lot like Freddie Solomon, the former Sumter dual threat quarterback who went on to play receiver in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins.
For his career, Werts has rushed for 3,028 yards and thrown for 2,762 with 72 total touchdowns.
“He is going to make some plays, but you got to keep him under control,” Hayes said.
Dillon did its best to control Werts last season. He finished with 241 yards of offense and two TDs in the title game.
Werts said Newberry played nervous and was just happy to be there last year. This season, they are hoping for different results.
“It took us a while to get into a rhythm of a game. But we will be more settled down and more focused this year,” Werts said.
Newberry (12-1) vs. Dillon (13-0)
Radio: 1240 AM and www.wkdk.com.
Internet: Game will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com for a fee of $9.95. Burch Antley and Emerson Phillips on the broadcast.
Last meeting: 2014, Dillon 49-27
Newberry players to watch: QB Yafari Werts (56-114 1,098 yds, 11 TDS, 6 INTs; 1,182 yards rush 20 TDs), RB Amir Abrams (1,182 yds 22 TDs), WR Zy Towns (26 rec. 567 yds, 7 TDs), OL Demarcus Gillmore, DL Jaceree Caldwell
Dillon players to watch: QB Avery McCall (104-160 1,677 17 TDs, 1 INT), RB Jamison Chapman (1,035 yds rush, 19 TDs), RB Daeshawn Davis (788 total yds, 23 TDs), WR Kanore McKinnon (33 rec. 598 yds 12 TDs), Morgan Covington (23 rec. 476 yds, 5 TDs), Jermaine McDaniel (91 tackles, 7 sacks), Dekendric Graves (5 INTs), Trey Melton (73 tackles)
Notes: Dillon has won 36 games in a row, longest current streak in the state, and looking for its fourth straight championship. … Dillon QB Avery McCall is a Coastal Carolina commit and running back Jamison Chapman is a Wofford commit. McCall, a four-year starter, has lostone game in his career as starting QB… Newberry coach Phil Strickland is going win No. 300 of his career and trying to become the fourth coach in state history to win championships at three different schools. … Former Dillon and Clemson standout Derrick Hamilton is an assistant for Newberry. … Dillon has outscored opponents 601-80. … Newberry is 17 of 28 on fourth-down conversions. … Bulldogs allowing just 90 yards a game on the ground.
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.