A midseason sluggishness followed by a dominant run to the state championship game. Sound familiar? It should for Thomas Heyward football fans, whose team has seen its 2020 season follow a similar trajectory to last year, which ended with the Rebels’ second straight SCISA 1A title.
The Rebels don’t intend for the similarities to end there.
Thomas Heyward will go for the three-peat on Saturday, taking on Lee Academy at 5:30 p.m. at Charleston Southern, and if the Rebels keep playing the way they have been, it could quickly turn into a coronation.
That’s not a knock on the Cavaliers (9-3), who have won five straight since a 40-21 road loss to SCISA 2A finalist Carolina Academy and advanced to the title game with a 26-12 win over St. John’s Christian last week.
But the Rebels have been on another level. THA has won 11 straight since a season-opening loss to First Baptist, but they had to grind out a couple tough wins at Beaufort Academy and John Paul II in late September and early October, but the close calls seemed to provide a wake-up call. The Rebels have been rolling ever since, winning their last six games by an average of 40.8 points.
Whoever lines up behind a big, physical offensive line anchored by seniors Therion Cannon and John Hampton Hewlett has been able to pick up yards in chunks, with JR Patterson and Anthony Fripp leading the way. And opponents have been hesitant to stack the box because senior quarterback Peyton Bennett can pick a secondary apart through the air and stretch the field with deep balls to Bruzza Pusha. As long as the Rebels hold onto the ball, they’re going to rack up plenty of points — they’ve scored 40 or more in six straight games.
The Cavs aren’t really equipped for a shootout, but they can rack up some points. They’ve averaged 41.2 points during their five-game winning streak, and quarterback Keaton Price is a dynamic player who can do damage with his legs and get the ball out quickly, but the Rebels have done a good job of containing mobile quarterbacks all season.
THA’s defensive line has wrought havoc in opposing backfields, with Hewlett leading the charge, the linebacking corps has been solid, and the secondary doesn’t give up many big plays.
It’s hard to imagine the Cavs outscoring the Rebels without some help in the form of turnovers or ill-timed penalties. If THA takes care of the small things, the Rebels should continue their reign over SCISA 1A.
PREDICTION: Thomas Heyward 42, Lee Academy 20
Story and photos by Justin Jarrett