We’ve had the opportunity to watch our high school football players across the Lowco shine all year long, but there’s something special about the Blitz Border Bowl.
It provides a perfect closure for seniors who have earned the opportunity to suit up one more time. It’s a last chance to play with your buddies that you’ve grown up with while trying to earn one more win on the field.
And it’s also a chance for some on the cusp of a college career to get another look before their time to prove themselves runs out. And a number of senior standouts certainly took advantage at Savannah’s Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
We hadn’t been saying the name Jamian Risher that much going into this season, and there’s a reason for that. He plays at Wade Hampton High School, which lies in Hampton County, just outside of our coverage map. It’s not a place that is looked at for the next big college prospect, but that doesn’t mean that they’re void of student-athletes who are talented and deserve the same shot at the next level. In fact, if you saw his highlight clips and his numbers (1,421 rushing yards at quarterback with 19 touchdowns alongside 740 passing yards with 9 TDs on a 9-2 team), you’d think that he’d be scooping up some big-time looks.
But currently, he’s got just three offers — from NCAA Division II programs Newberry and Livingstone (N.C.) and JUCO Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. On Saturday, he earned the opportunity to showcase his game against the best seniors in Georgia’s Coastal Empire. He didn’t just show out — he was the game’s most valuable player, and it really wasn’t close.
I agree with Beaufort High head coach Bryce Lybrand that Risher is the most highly underrated prospect not only in the region, but in the entire state. You’ve got to think more eyes will open to his capabilities after Saturday’s performance in a televised all-star game.
He’s an explosive runner with terrific strength and an unending drive and work ethic. He may not be from a powerhouse or big-name program, but he’s got all the skills and intangibles to make it big at the college level and provide an instant impact for many different programs.
We’ve heard more about Brandon Howard over the years in our area. A former Ridgeland-Hardeeville Jaguar turned Thomas Heyward Rebel, Howard found an opportunity at THA after the Jags chose to pause athletics in 2020 due to COVID-19.
I don’t know if Thomas Heyward still wins those two state titles without the play of Howard. I think they still win ‘em, but it certainly could be debatable due to how much he meant to that squad on both sides of the ball. I’ve seen few high school football players with that kind of burst off the line of scrimmage and that power and mobility, which has made him such a fun player to watch. There are rumors of a certain school he might be honed in on, but when I talked to him Saturday, he said “stay tuned.”
One of his former Ridgeland-Hardeeville teammates also made some noise to help the Lowco squad on its epic comeback and also showcase his potential at the next level. Running back Joseph “Speedy” Robinson was primed for a monster junior and senior year as a Jaguar, but his chances went awry when the pandemic struck.
After sitting out the 2020 season, he found a new home at Hilton Head Christian Academy this fall. It didn’t take him long to become the most important piece of that unstoppable 2021 offense, which propelled the Eagles to a second consecutive state title. He was by far the most effective back on Saturday to finish a spectacular senior season, coming through with some key conversions to move the chains and help set up the score that sparked the Lowco’s late rally.
With his exceptional quickness, agility, and a nose for the big play, any college coach would be thrilled to bring in a player like Speedy Robinson.
Plenty of other Lowco stars also made strong impressions, but Risher, Howard, and Robinson were the biggest winners. We love to see our kids getting more exposure and earning more shots to follow their dreams, and the Blitz Border Bowl is a terrific vehicle for them to show their skills in a big-time setting. And the finality of it is important, too, because it’s your last chance to make that statement about your ability, your talent, and your work ethic on the field. We hope that our local student-athletes including Risher, Howard, and others searching for that college opportunity will get it, but there is another side to this game, as well.
For some, it may be the last competitive football game they play. Unlike other sports where you can still play a form of it at an older age, you don’t see that as often with football. Because of that, it was extra special for our seniors to go out with a win.
We hope to see the Blitz Border Bowl continue to shine a light on our stars across the Lowco and the Coastal Empire, and we thank WSAV for its terrific work in putting it on each year. It’s a fun and rewarding capper to our high school football coverage, and we look forward to many great memories to come.
By Wes Kerr