The Sumter High School varsity baseball team had a nice run of it over the weekend, winning three of four games and finishing third in the Red Bank Invitational at White Knoll High in Lexington.
So what do the Gamecocks get for a reward this week as they open the regular season? A home game against Blythewood, which beat them 11-1 on Friday in the invitational, today and a home game against A.C. Flora, which they beat 5-4 on Sunday, before traveling to West Florence on Friday to open Region VI-4A play.
“We’ve developed a little camaraderie with those guys,” said SHS head coach Brooks Shumake, whose team’s game against Blythewood begins at 6:30 p.m. “We’ve been knowing them through the years and the type of programs they have. We know it is going to be good competition.”
Shumake was pleased with the way his team held up in the invitational, especially with three pitchers he’s counting on to play major roles this season — right-handers Tyler Smith and lefty Jordan Montgomery — unable to pitch.
Thirty local high school football players have been chosen to The Item All-Area football first team. The team is chosen by The Item sports staff based on nominations from the head coaches of the seven local South Carolina High School League schools that have football teams — Sumter, Crestwood, Lakewood, Manning, Lee Central, East Clarendon and Scott's Branch.
The first team has 10 players from Sumter, seven from Crestwood, seven from Manning and three from both Lakewood and Scott's Branch.
The Item Area Player of the Year for the second year in a row is Sumter running back Roderick McDowell, and TheItem Area Coach of the Year is Leonard Johnson of Scott's Branch
McDowell is the all-purpose player on the team, serving as a triple threat for the Gamecocks who reached the 4A Division I state championship game. McDowell, who played in the Shrine Bowl and the U.S. Army All-America Game, rushed for 1,870 yards and 24 touchdowns on 244 carries, good for a 7.7 per-carry average. He also caught 27 passes for 415 yards, a 15.4 average, and four TDs. McDowell, who has signed with Clemson, had a 31.8 kickoff return average, returning 17 kicks for 540 yards and one TD.
The quarterback is Sumter's Stephen Curtis. The junior completed 142 of 263 passes for 25 touchdowns while rushing for 415 yards and 11 TDs on 143 attempts.
The running backs are Quinten Singleton of Scott's Branch, Terrence Wilson of Crestwood, Jason Witherspoon of Manning and John Walker of Lakewood. Singleton rushed for 2,434 yards and 27 touchdowns on 349 carries. He also ran for 15 two-point conversions. Wilson rushed for 2,107 yards and 26 touchdowns on 194 attempts, good for a 10.9 average. He scored a team high 160 points.
Witherspoon rushed for 1,552 yards and 20 touchdowns on 237 carries. Walker ran for 1,515 yards and 13 scores on 319 carries, averaging 137.7 yards a game.
The offensive line includes Rick Canty of Manning, Michael Miller of Sumter, Rondell Brunson and Matt Haney of Crestwood, Jeremy Bowman of Scott's Branch and StevenWright of Lakewood. Canty, who was chosen to play in the SCADA North-South All-Star Football Game, graded out at 89 percent and had 42 knockdown blocks in nine games as a guard. He missed four games after having his appendix removed. Miller played guard and graded out at 82 percent with 26 knockdown blocks.
Brunson graded out at 88 percent with 52 knockdown blocks at right tackle, while Haney played center and graded out at 86 percent and 32 knockdowns. Bowman had a 91 percent grade and 21 knockdown blocks while Wright graded out at 85 percent with 33 knockdowns at guard.
The tight end is Jerell Adams of Scott's Branch. Adams had 14 receptions for 305 yards and seven TDs while picking up 37 solo tackles, 30 assists and one interception as a defensive back.
The wide receivers are Marcus Lloyd of Manning and Tyler Smith and Danniel Duncan of Sumter. Lloyd had 26 catches for 467 yards and six touchdowns while coming up with four interceptions, nine passes broken up and 36 tackles as a cornerback. Smith had 36 catches for 649 yards and eight TDs while Duncan had 31 receptions for 561 yards and two scores.
The placekicker is Manning's J.C. Harrington. Harrington was 57 of 61 on extra point attempts while going 7-for-7 on field goals to finish with 78 points.
The defensive line includes Javon Weston and Darius Wallace of Crestwood, CarrisonOxendine of Sumter and Manning's Dexter Morant. Weston, a Shrine Bowl defensive tackle, had 75 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, six quarterback sacks, eight quarterback pressures and four fumble recoveries. Wallace had 23 sacks and 20 hurries as a defensive end to go with 103 tackles and 24 tackles for loss. He also blocked three kicks.
It will be a busy day throughout Sumter and Clarendon counties on National Signing Day on Wednesday as no fewer than 11 football players and one cross country runner are scheduled to sign their respective letters of intent.
Sumter High School running back Roderick McDowell is the lone local football player set to sign with an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision school in Clemson. The Shrine Bowl and Army All-America Bowl running back committed to the Tigers as a junior and has held firm to the commitment.
McDowell’s teammate, defensive back Kevin Sinkler, is set to sign with Newberry College, and he won’t be alone in doing that. Also scheduled to sign with the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference School are three Crestwood players — offensive lineman Robert Shirriell and brothers Treginald Wilson and Terrence Wilson — the Knights’ star quarterback and running back, respectively.
The coaches and players of the Sumter High School football team knew something else the rest of us didn’t.
While talking with the Gamecocks and the coaching staff in the days leading up to Saturday’s 4A Division I state championship game against Byrnes High at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, the players would not say that the Rebels were a dominating team. They gave Byrnes respect, saying it was a very good high school team, but still a high school team, not this quasi-Division I college team.
You would hear or read the Sumter players’ statements, and you wanted to believe them. However, then you’d think about the Rebels being nationally ranked, having played on national television over the past few years and winning five state titles in the past six years and a big letdown is what you thought awaited the Gamecocks.
And Sumter was let down on Saturday as they did lose to the Rebels — but not the way Byrnes smoked Summerville 48-9 in the 2007 championship game. Instead the Gamecocks had glum looks on their faces because they knew they had let one get away from them in a 31-21 defeat.
Sumter was right to have an air of confidence as they took to Frank Howard Field. While the Rebels are indeed a fine football team and were the better team on this day, the Gamecocks were right there with them. There were two very good high school football teams in Death Valley on Saturday; one of them had to win and one of them had to lose, and Byrnes happened to the be winner.
Chris Moore / The Item Sumter High School head coach Paul Sorrells reacts on the sideline during the game.
The Gamecocks were taking no solace in the fact that they stood toe to toe with Byrnes, which makes a habit out of beating the bejabbers out of most its opponents. In fact, Sumter was disappointed because it did not play well and still only lost by 10 — and trailed just 24-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rebels obviously had something to do with the game’s outcome, running back Marcus Lattimore’s 305 yards rushing and four touchdowns being the obvious difference maker. You weigh in Sumter’s three turnovers — one that set the Rebels up at the SHS 13-yard line on the second-half kickoff with the Gamecocks trailing just 10-7 and the other two coming in Byrnes territory — and it isn’t hard to make a case that it could have won the game. (full story)
Five local high school football players — two from Sumter, two from Crestwood and one from Manning — will be competing in the SCADA North-South All-Star Football Game today beginning at noon at Myrtle Beach High's Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
The game will be carried live by Camden radio station WPUB-FM 102.7.
Sumter wide receiver/safety Travis Fredimon and linebacker Quinn McClendon, Crestwood center Matt Haney and free safety/wide receiver Randy Moulds and Manning offensive guard Rick Cantey will play for the South squad.
Fredimon and McClendon helped lead the Gamecocks to the 4A Division I state championship contest. As a wide receiver, Fredimon had 23 catches for 425 yards and six touchdowns; as a defensive back, Fredimon had seven interceptions, including five in the state playoffs, to go along with 21 tackles. McClendon had a team high 148 tackles to go along with 19 tackles for loss and five quarterback sacks.
Moulds and Haney helped lead the Knights to the third round of the 3A state playoffs. As a safety, Moulds had 38 tackles, five tackles for loss, broke up eight passes and had two interceptions; as a wide receiver, he only had five catches, but they went for 148 yards and four touchdowns.
Haney graded out at 86 percent and had 32 knockdown blocks from his center position.
Cantey was a standout blocker for the Monarchs, who advanced to the third round of the 2A state playoffs.
James F. Byrnes High School is the 2008 4A Division I football state champion. Congratulations go out to the team and its coaches. Yes, they won the championship game at Death Valley. They were good and so were the Gamecocks. But the Sumter High School football team, its coaches and its loyal fans won the hearts of the people throughout the state of South Carolina. Jerome Singleton, executive director of the South Carolina High School League, noted the Gamecocks' exemplary sportmanship by saying, "The league has always given the state runner-up team the choice of leaving the field after receiving their medallions and trophy, or to stay and respectfully honor the state champions as they received their awards. To say the least, Sumter High School chose the latter and it left a lasting impression on all those who witnessed theis memorable moment of character being demonstrated at its best."
As the talent evaluator for the High School Sports Report and the setup guy for the HSSR Game of the Week for the past 12 years, I have never witnessed any team at the championship games staying to honor the new state champion. Billy Baker, the owner and editor of HSSR, said, "Such exemplary sportsmanship became the headlines of the conversations in the press room." Gamecock head football coach Paul Sorrells immediately became an icon of coaching. Coach Sorrells was responsible of iniating this show of sportsmanship. After the last awar was presented to the Sumter High team, he asked each player to stay in their respectful place, to turn and face the state champions and applaud each Byrnes player and coach as they received their awards. Many memorable moments, such as this one, has been the difference of shame or fame. On this night in Clemson, S.C., Sumter High School established its fame for the exemplary character and sportsmanship.
Dr. Zona Jefferson, Sumter School District 17 superintendent, and Rut Dingle, Sumter High School principal, are to be commended for the high expectations they have established for their students. The entire community of Sumter should be proud of its players and all those dedicated supporters who were at Death Valley for the state championship game.
The HSSR Game of the Week crew came up with a number of superlatives to best describe the state football championship teams. The team with the most spirit went to Sumter. The team that exceeded its expectations for performance went to Sumter. The largest number of fan support went to Sumter. The team having the most supportive fans went to Sumter. The team displaying the highest level of character went to Sumter. Sumter High School, because of this one small gesture of sportsmanship and respect for others, has set a new standard for word "quality" in athletics throughout this great state.
CHARLIE STOUDENMIRE High School Sports Report Talent Scout Dorchester School District Two Board of Trustees
When Roderick McDowell was growing up, he would have kids picking on him and laughing at him because he was born with a club foot that made his right leg shorter than the left.
His mother, Roxanne Solone, wouldn't allow her son to pity himself.
"I would tell him, 'If God made you that way, there was some reason for that happening. You're special. It's a gift that God gave you,' " Solone said.
It turns out that McDowell's mother had a pretty good feeling for what awaited her son. Despite the handicap, McDowell was blessed with the speed, quickness and cutting ability to become an outstanding high school running back at Sumter High School, one good enough to be selected to play in the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
McDowell received his jersey for the game to be played in San Antonio on Jan. 3, 2009, on Thursday in a ceremony held in the SHS gymnasium in front of hundreds of his classmates, teachers and coaches.
"It's a great honor to be having the chance to play in this game," said McDowell, who is one of two South Carolinians, along with West Florence defensive end Malliciah Goodman, selected to play in the game that will be nationally televised on NBC beginning at 1 p.m. "This speaks publicly to the success we've had here at Sumter High and the support I've had from my offensive line. This is a showcase for the rest of the state to see."
CLEMSON — As the second half of the 4A Division I state championship football game at Memorial Stadium was ready to begin, Sumter High School had all of the momentum.
The Gamecocks had scored with 3 minutes, 42 seconds, remaining in the first half against defending state champion Byrnes to make it 10-7. After turning the Rebels away just before halftime and knowing it would receive the second-half kickoff, SHS definitely had heavily-favored Byrnes on its heels.
It took all of 15 seconds of the second half for the "big mo" to switch back to the Rebels' side.
Sumter's Timmy Rogers fumbled the second-half kickoff, and Byrnes recovered at the Gamecock 13-yard line. Rebels running back Marcus Lattimore scored on the next play to make it 17-7. And though it hung tough the rest of the way, SHS could never quite get back over the hump as Byrnes won 31-21 to claim its sixth state title in seven years.
"That play really did hurt us," said Sumter senior offensive guard Justin Simmons. "I thought we had things going our way. That play gave them back the momentum though, and we were just never able to get it back."
Rogers was lined up deep to receive Jordan Miller's kickoff. He fielded the ball cleanly at the 3, but ended up bumping into teammate Travis Fredimon. The collision jarred the ball loose and
Byrnes' Colby Conner recovered at the 13. Lattimore went around left end for the score on the next play to make it 17-7 with 11:45 still remaining in the third quarter.
"I was going ahead and Travis just got pushed back into me," Rogers said. "I went down and had the ball (in the pile), but the referee gave it to Byrnes."
It was a day of mistakes and missed opportunities for the Gamecocks. They fumbled the football four times, losing two of them, and also had a pass intercepted. Also, Sumter dropped at least three passes from Byrnes quarterback Chad Dodd that could have been intercepted, and it let the Rebels pick up a first down on a fake punt late in the third quarter that ended with a fourth-quarter touchdown that led to the final score.
"I think everybody had the butterflies in the early going," said Sumter quarterback Stephen Curtis, who saw his team fumble three times in the first quarter alone. "We were still right there though and we played hard, we just made those mistakes and we weren't able to overcome them."
The Gamecocks were right there with Byrnes after running back Roderick McDowell scored on a 7-yard run and placekicker Ross Watson added the extra point to make it 24-21 with 1:32 left in the third quarter. The SHS defense had Byrnes facing fourth down and seven yards to go at its 46 when Miller lined up deep to punt. The Rebels, however, snapped the ball to the up man, Lattimore, and he was able to pick up nine yards and keep what would eventually be a 13-play, 70-yard scoring drive alive.
"That was a big momentum switch right there," said Sumter linebacker James Sanders. "They caught us off guard there. We were expecting them to punt, but you have to give them credit for calling that play."
While the Gamecocks certainly didn't help themselves with some of the mistakes, Sanders said Sumter was obviously facing an outstanding foe in 14-1 Byrnes.
"We made some mistakes, and if we didn't make them, it could have made a difference in the game," said Sanders, whose team finished the year with a 12-3 record. "We played hard though, and we were playing a great team."
The frenetic early-season schedules and holiday tournaments are behind the Sumter High School varsity basketball teams, which tip off Region VI-4A play tonight against South Florence at the Sumter High gymnasium.
Sumter boys head coach Nathan Livesay summed up the situation after the Gamecocks’ 51-38 victory over county-rival Crestwood on Friday.
“The way South Carolina basketball is set up, these first 10 we’ve played don’t matter,” Livesay said. “Everybody’s 0-0, and we’ve got to go to work. The 10 that we’ll play now make a difference.”
Sumter improved to 7-3 with Friday’s win, avenging its only loss to an in-state team this season. The other losses came at the prestigious Arby’s Classic holiday tournament, where the Gamecocks went 1-2, falling to Krop Senior High, a 6A powerhouse from Miami, and Louisville Male, a top-10 team out of Kentucky.
The three losses were consecutive, however, with Crestwood providing a rude welcome back to South Carolina. Livesay said it was good to get that game back and head into region play with momentum.
“We’re playing better, so hopefully, we’ll just continue to play better than we did the night before,” Livesay said. “That’s our goal — to get better with every practice and with every game so that, at the end of the season, we’re playing our best basketball.
“We’ve made progress. We’re nowhere near where we want to be, but we’re getting close,” he said, adding that he thought the recent adversity would eventually help the team. “What you hope is that you develop some mental toughness by playing through injuries and schedule changes and things not going exactly the way you want. You learn how to have confidence in yourself and you learn mental toughness so you can put that into use when you get into tough situations that are going to happen in the region.”
Sumter has been as good as its core trio of players, Travis Fredimon, Quinn McClendon and Khalil Malone, but Livesay said the Gamecocks were getting contributions from more players.
“We’ve had a lot of guys make a couple of plays, and that’s what we want,” he said.
Sumter won the region last year with an 8-0 record. The Gamecocks will need two more wins than that this year to finish unbeaten, and will need to get them against a slate that Livesay said looks to be much improved.
“Hartsville is going to be a very good team again,” he said of the Red Foxes, which smoked Crestwood 70-41 last week. “Carolina Forest is new to our region and they’re very good. South Florence played us two 2-point games last year, and West Florence is always hard to play. Conway is much improved.
“The region slate is going to be pretty tough,” he said.
The Varsity Boys Basketball team avenged its earlier 50-49 loss to Crestwood by knocking off the Knights 51-38 at home on Saturday. The win capped a 4 game sweep for Sumter High School as the Girls Varsity Basketball team along with the JV Boys and Girls teams had already knocked off the Crestwood teams earlier in the day.
Despite have a different lineup for each game so far, the Sumter High boys basketball team is off to a perfect start. The reason for the roster flux was the great run by the school’s football team, which occupied many of the basketball players’ time.
The Gamecocks improved to 4-0 in the early going after with a 62-41 romp against A.C. Flora on Tuesday.
Senior guard Travis Fredimon nearly posted a triple double in his first game of the season, just three days after playing in the North-South All-Star football game in Myrtle Beach. Fredimon’s hoops debut featured 10 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Quinn McClendon, another football star who played in the North-Soutb game with Fredimon, came off the bench to score 10 points.
Last week, Khalil Malone, Stephon McBride, Eren Moses, Timmy Rogers, Marquis Thompson, and DJ Coleman all scored in double figures while leading the Gamecocks to a pair of wins without Fredimon and McClendon.
“We have used a balanced attack with eight different players reaching double figures in scoring so far and have had a different leading scorer in each of the four victories, said Sumter coach Nathan Livesay. “At this point we are only waiting for one more player to return from a football injury, and hope to have the full roster available by our January 2 game against Crestwood.”
The Gamecocks will play in the Arby’s Classic In Bristol, Tenn. During the holiday break. The tournament starts on Dec. 26.
As Rock Hill High School wide receiver Jon Key raced toward the dressing rooms end zone at Memorial Stadium on Friday in the Bearcats semifinal football game in the 4A Division I state playoffs against Sumter, Gamecock free safety Travis Fredimon viewed from the far side of the field — with a sense of helplessness.
"To tell you the truth, I thought he was going to score," Fredimon said.
That didn't deter Fredimon though. He remained in dogged pursuit of Key as he made his way across the field. He quickly closed the gap, all the while as Key got closer to the goal line. Fredimon finally got close enough to Key where he could likely make a touchdown-saving tackle. Only he didn't go for the tackle.
Instead of diving for Key's legs, Fredimon wound up his right arm and ripped the ball from his grasp. Cornerback Jason Murray recovered at the SHS 4-yard line, as Sumter preserved a 29-14 lead in what would end up being a 35-14 victory.
"As I kept running, I thought I could catch him," Fredimon said. "He didn't have the ball tucked away yet. I just tried to time it right and hit it, and it was out."
The play capped off a huge night on both sides of the football for the senior. Along with the strip, Fredimon intercepted two passes and caught four passes for 114 yards as a wide receiver.
Not bad for a player who is really just starting to get into the swing of things after missing five games due to a pair of ankle injuries and has been learning to play safety under fire as well. His play, however, is one of the main reasons the Gamecocks will be taking on Byrnes for the state championship on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Clemson's Memorial Stadium.
Fredimon injured one ankle in Sumter's 19-14 loss to Spartanburg in the third game of the season. He injured the other ankle the following week in a 45-0 win against White Knoll. He missed the next five games, a time in which Sumter head coach Paul Sorrells had hoped to teach him the ropes about playing safety. Fredimon was playing safety for the first time because safety Cardell Scarborough couldn't play defensively because of a dislocated shoulder.
When he was healthy enough to play, Fredimon was thrown right into the fire.
"Once he got back, it was crunch time, so he was having to learn at that time," said Sorrells, whose team takes a 12-2 record into Saturday's game against 13-1 Byrnes. "If Cardell had remained (healthy enough to play defense), we wouldn't have made the move."