Columbia Metro Senior Bowl recap, by Tyler Cupp
History was made Saturday afternoon as the first ever Columbia Metro Senior Bowl was played at Irmo High School. The East squad took down the West 22-16. A trick play for a touchdown and two Alex Herrera (Spring Valley) field goals highlighted the win for the East.
Coach of the East, Demetrius Davis, was relieved and certainly happy after it was over. “I thought it was electric here today, the crowd was excited all throughout,” he said. “It was a really great atmosphere for football today. And I’m happy we came out with the win.”
Going into the game, media and coaches that I spoke to thought the two biggest factors were going to be the speed of the skilled players for East and the size of the West offensive line. Well, we were both wrong. The story of this game was the defensive lines and front sevens. They were near dominant for both the East and the West. The two defenses combined for 25 tackles for loss. The East however recorded nine sacks on the day and that was the difference. One of the standouts was Dewey Greene of AC Flora who took down the quarterbacks three times, recording six total tackles. He along with a couple of Blythewood guys in Patrick Godbolt, Nic Rogers and Desean Smith (Lower Richland) were a force on defense wreaking havoc all day.
“I’ll be honest, if you can show me a better defensive line than what we had out there today, I want to see it.” Davis said. ” From Greene, to Godbolt, to Rogers from Blythewood. These guys can play. I’m not taking anything away from Shrine bowl or North South but those kids are all-stars. Top linemen in the state here today.”
The scoring took a while to start as both teams were feeling each other out. And as with most all-star game formats, lineups are interchanging, especially at QB. With a 36 yard field goal by Herrera, the East then went up two scores on a trick play in the second. Walyn Napper (Ridge View) took it on a reverse pass and heaved it 65 yards downfield for a touchdown. The East scored on their next possession with another big pass play as Flora’s Matthew Jamison found Senika Mckie (RV) for a 41-yard score. And just like that, it was 17-0 East. Davis on the big plays: “Well, we wanted to strike fast. Coach (Jason) Siedel and (Colin) Drafts, (Mike) Armstrong and (Treigh) Sullivan said now’s the time to do it. And they were right. Everybody enjoyed it and so did the fans. They drew it up and it hit at the right time. And we got another one there with Jamison right after that.”
The West put on a little bit of a rally. Trailing 19-3, the West scored twice in the third quarter to make it a three point deficit. A 52 yard bomb from Irmo’s John Ragin to Gray Collegiate’s Kyser Samuel helped rejuvenate the offense. And after the West defense got yet another stop and forced a turnover, they struck again as Airport’s Brandon Caughman found River Bluff’s Antonio Gantt for a score. So with the scoreboard showing 19-16 and 11 minutes left in the fourth, it was crunch time and we had a game.
Coach Davis knew that even in an all-star format, fatigue might start to play a factor on his defense. “Well we just wanted to finish. These kids had not played football in a long time so endurance wise that was a key for us. We were not in the best shape. We just wanted to finish the game, the West took a little momentum there in the fourth but we got that interception to seal the deal and win,” he said.
The interception he referenced came on the hands of Westwood’s Cameron Maynard. It put the ball inside the West 30. And a big decision came for the coaching staff as they faced a fourth and long but were on the opposing side of the field. They could have gone for it and still forced the West to drive on their defense, which had played great all day, or they could have used the leg of preferred walk-on kicker Alex Herrera. The distance was 41 yards and it was a low line drive that had more than the distance to make it. “At that point, we thought about all the options.” Davis said. “Clock was on our side, they were out of timeouts. This kid is going to the University of South Carolina to kick, and he’s going to be there. I figured let’s let him go out there and kick it and he made us all look good by hitting it. Now if they block it and get that ball back and score, we look like we don’t know what we’re doing.”
The kick made it 22-16 and that was your final. On a sunny, windy day off Harbison Boulevard, the Columbia Metro Senior Bowl was tabbed a success by everyone I talked to. Even the losing coaches had smiles on their faces, mainly because their players had one last chance to shine and compete on the football field. It was a great scene after the game as both squads joined together at midfield and heard words from multiple coaches including its organizer, Perry Parks. The future is bright for this game and hopefully continues for years to come. The Midlands brand of football should certainly be proud of the effort that all put in to make this happen.
As mentioned previously, there were a ton of tackles for loss on both sides. On the west, Amir Griffin of Newberry had three and Kendrick Allen of Dutch Fork recorded two. Jaewonn Williams of Batesburg-Leesville was another standout with two interceptions in the loss. It was a fairly clean game too, with only three total penalties.