Gilbert football looks to continue recent success

Thomas Grant Jr. photos.

The perception of Gilbert High School’s football has changed over the past three seasons.

Under head coach Chad Leaphart, the Indians have posted a 29-7 overall record, won a region tile for the first time in school history and advanced in the Class 3A playoffs three straight years.

Senior quarterback Jy Tolen has especially noticed the change when it comes to fan support. “It’s become bigger and bigger every year,” said Tolen following Monday’s practice. “People like to see Gilbert play now instead of just coming to show support. They actually come and watch us win games.”

This season, Tolen will take the majority of the snaps with the transfer of Josh Strickland to Blythewood. He is among 25 seniors returning to an Indians’ team coming off a 7-4 season.

The non-region schedule is once again challenging with five playoff teams, including Class 5A and fellow Lexington County District 1 schools Lexington and River Bluff.

“I feel like this team is pretty good, but we don’t have an easy schedule,” Leaphart said. “We’ve got a tough schedule. You go right down the line. We start off with Gray Collegiate (Aug. 23). They’re doing nothing but getting better and better every year. That’s going to be a huge game right off the bat with some of the players they’ve got over there. Batesburg-Leesville (Aug. 30) is a big rival game. Lexington (Sept. 6), big rival game and (Class) 5A school. Airport (Sept. 13), Dreher (Sept. 20) are (Class) 4A schools. River Bluff’s loaded, they’re (Class) 5 (Gilbert travels to the Swamp Sept. 27).

“So we’re playing a lot of people bigger than us and good people. So, it definitely will get us ready for the region and, of course, Strom Thurmond, sitting there in the region (on Oct. 18). A tough schedule for sure.”

Through three practices going into Thursday’s first scrimmage at home against Newberry, Leaphart is generally pleased with his team’s effort.

“I love our energy and effort right now,” he said. “The guys are out there excited and bouncing around. Today, it was first day of putting on some pads. We did some good things, but we had some mistakes I didn’t care much for that we need to clean up.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I like where we out right now and the way all the guys work.”

Categories: Gilbert, Lexington County, Sports