The postseason accolades continued to roll in for three Lowco football stars and a head coach Tuesday, as Whale Branch’s Xavier Chaplin, Wade Hampton’s Jamien Risher, and Beaufort High’s Alvin Wilson and head coach Bryce Lybrand were named to the prestigious 2021 South Carolina Football Coaches Association Palmetto Champions Team.
A total of 25 players and 10 coaches were selected to the all-star team, including an Upper State and Lower State back, lineman, and head coach alongside one specialist representative for each SCHSL classification.
Wilson was the anchor of Beaufort High’s standout defensive line and dominated in the trenches as the Eagles soared to a Lower State championship. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior was nearly unblockable in 2021, racking up 80 tackles and a Lowco-high 28 tackles for loss. Wilson was a go-to playmaker when the Eagles needed a spark, notching 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries to go along with 19 quarterback pressures. He was a force in stuffing the run to put his opponents behind the sticks while wreaking havoc with his pass-rushing skills. Wilson’s play was paramount for the success of Beaufort High head coach Bryce Lybrand, who led the Eagles to their first SCHSL title game appearance since 2007.
The third-year head coach started the season 4-0, taking down a trio of strong Georgia teams including eventual GHSA 4A state champion Benedictine. Lybrand’s brilliant coaching was on display on a phenomenal postseason run, vanquishing Lower State power Myrtle Beach and a potent West Florence squad before falling to former mentor Devonte Holloman and South Pointe in the SCHSL 4A state championship game.
Lybrand had been connected to the open coaching position at A.C. Flora, where the athletics director, Ed Moore, was an assistant football coach when Lybrand played at Greenwood High School, but LowcoSports.com confirmed Tuesday that Lybrand has withdrawn from consideration.
A standout lineman on both sides of the ball, Chaplin delivered a monster year for the Whale Branch Warriors to finish out his high school career. The two-way star helped pave the way for a dominant ground attack led by senior teammate Joseph Hicks, as the Warriors ran for a whopping 2,064 yards and 31 touchdowns while averaging 206.4 yards per game. Chaplin was also a menace on the defensive line to lead a stout Warrior unit, finishing the season with 52 tackles including 11 behind the line of scrimmage. A terrific athlete with a high motor and elite physical strength, Chaplin has been highly recruited by top-tier Division I schools and is currently committed to Virginia Tech.
Although his school lies just outside the LowcoSports.com coverage area, fans in the area have become familiar with the name Jamian “Catman” Risher. A breakout star for Wade Hampton, Risher exploded onto the scene this year with his electric dual-threat play under center. The 6-foot-2 quarterback showcased his explosive running abilities in a remarkable senior campaign, posting 1,421 rushing yards (129.2 per game) and 19 touchdowns alongside a 78-yard TD reception. Risher also impressed with his play through the air, throwing for 730 yards and nine scores compared to just three interceptions. His strong frame and burst of speed ignited Wade Hampton’s offense, propelling the Red Devils to a 9-2 season and a playoff victory. He capped off a memorable senior year with a sensational performance in Saturday’s Blitz Border Bowl in Savannah, rallying Team Lowco back with a touchdown pass and reception to defeat Team Coastal Empire 14-13 and receive the game’s MVP honors. Risher received an offer from Savannah State on Monday and has also picked up offers from Newberry and Livingstone (N.C.).
Due to continued COVID-19 concerns, the annual banquet to honor the team was cancelled for the second consecutive season.
By Wes Kerr
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