After a season for the ages that ended with a trip to the Class 4A state title game, a trio of Beaufort High football standouts signed their letters of intent Wednesday at the school, solidifying their plans to continue their careers at the next level.
Standout quarterback Tyler Haley made official his plans to play at Newberry College next season, while star defensive end Alvin Wilson and kicker Joe Caprarola will team up at Benedict College and play on the same field where they ended their high school careers.
An emotional coach Bryce Lybrand said a few words about each of his seniors, starting with Haley, the highly-accomplished signal-caller who has guided the Eagles’ offense since he was a freshman. Lybrand recounted the first time he saw Haley, who inexplicably lived up to the hype that Lybrand didn’t believe could be met by a middle school quarterback.
Haley played as a freshman and started as a sophomore before his season was cut short by injury. He came back from the setback even stronger to put together a fantastic junior season and led the Eagles to the state championship game as a senior, passing for more than 2,500 yards with 16 touchdowns and rushing for nearly 600 yards and nine scores. The Wolves will lose starting quarterback Dre Harris to graduation, leaving an open competition that will give Haley an opportunity to prove himself right away.
Wilson is a major get for NCAA Division II Benedict, a player with D1-caliber skills who may have been overlooked in part because he intentionally flies under the radar. Lybrand joked that Wilson grew frustrated with him each time his coach asked him to do an interview leading up to the state championship game, and he’s a man of few words, but his stats spoke for himself this season.
A 6-3, 240-pound defensive end, Wilson has a quick first step and is powerful at the point of attack, making him a dangerous pass rusher. He was perhaps the most dominant defensive player in the Lowco this season with 75 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks along with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He fills a position of need for the Tigers and should have the opportunity to contribute quickly.
Lybrand poked fun at Caprarola for being a last-minute addition to the signing ceremony after making up his mind Tuesday night that he would continue his kicking career in Columbia, the kind of move expected from the Eagles’ wild card kicker. Caprarola came over from the Eagles’ soccer program as a sophomore and grew into one of the most reliable legs in the Lowco this season. He converted 55 of 57 PAT attempts and was 14-of-19 on field goals, including six over 40 yards with a long of 47, so he has the leg to help the Tigers.
“It’s great to celebrate these guys today, because they certainly deserve it,” Lybrand said. “They did everything we asked of them, and they did it the right way.”
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