With two Shrine Bowl and North-South selections, a 2,000-yard rusher and an all-state kicker, the Lexington football team is full of all-star talent.
But the Wildcats’ unsung players came up with some big moments in Friday’s 38-35 victory over Spartanburg in the Class 4A, Division II semifinals. Lexington will try to win its first state title since 1950 when it takes on Northwestern on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“It was a team effort,” Lexington coach Josh Stepp said. “That is what we preach to our kids, a next-man up mentality. Our kids come out and they buy into that. They prepare like that every week, whether they play 90 snaps or three.”
Offensively, quarterback Donny Baker and receiver Oscar Ferguson were two who delivered huge performances.
Baker came off the bench late in the third quarter for Brandon Blake, who was bothered by an injured shoulder and missed some practice during the week. The senior, who has started his share of games over the past two years, led Lexington to three fourth-quarter scoring drives. He finished 5-of-6 for 67 yards and made some big plays with his legs.
Baker gained 51 yards on the ground, including a 17-yard touchdown run, to give the Wildcats a 35-28 lead.
“I’m just ready whenever my number is called,” Baker said.
“Donny did what he’s done all year. He came in and played out of his mind,” Stepp said. “I’m extremely proud of that kid to be able to step in and play when his number is called.”
Ferguson came up big for the second straight week as Spartanburg tried to take away Lexington’s all-star receivers Jayson Hopper and Tyler Schadewald, who were held to a season-low catch apiece. The sophomore caught eight passes for 74 yards, a week after a career-high 129 yards against Blythewood.
Defensively, Daiquan Wells and Eric Ricker came up with some of the biggest plays of the game. Wells, who Stepp calls electrifying with the ball in his hands, scooped up an Austin Scott fumbled and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown to give Lexington a 21-14 lead in the second quarter when it looked like the Vikings were going to go ahead.
Wells also picked off Scott on the 3-yard line in the third when Spartanburg was looking to take the lead in the third quarter.
Ricker, one of the team’s captains, picked off Scott twice and returned one to the Spartanburg 25 to set up a Lexington touchdown. Lexington scored 21 of its 38 points off Spartanburg turnovers.
“Those kids have played like that all year especially down the stretch,” Stepp said of Ricker and Wells. “When we needed to make plays and needed to make turnovers, we got them. That was the difference in the game.”
Airport’s Tucker, Chance Walker added to North-South game
Airport quarterback/receiver Josh Tucker and Swansea QB/WR Chance Walker were added to the Touchstone Energy North-South game. Tucker and Walker were added to game to replace those who can’t play next week because their teams are in championship games.
Lexington linebacker Trey Mitchell and receiver Tyler Schadewald are two of those players who can’t play in the games because the Wildcats advanced to the Class 4A Division II title game.
Tucker threw for 1,438 yards and also rushed 975 yards with 23 total touchdowns and was Region 5-3A Offensive Player of the Year.
Walker had 1,905 yards of total offense this season and 22 touchdowns.
At Williams-Brice Stadium
Class 4A, Division I
Dorman vs. Fort Dorchester, noon
South Pointe vs. Midland Valley, 3 p.m.
Class 4A, Division II
Lexington vs. Northwestern, 6 p.m.