COLUMBIA — Bluffton football coach Ken Cribb must have stood in front of a mirror over the weekend and practiced the answers to the questions that were coming.
At the Weekend of Champions football press conference on Monday at the South Carolina High School League, he provided comedy, and showed his serious side while talking about his Bobcats' meeting with South Pointe for the Class AAA state championship on Saturday at Clemson's Memorial Stadium.
"Coach Cribb, how will you try to stop the Stallions' speed?" he was asked. Every football fan worth his or her salt knows the Stallions have five players who run the 40 in 4.5 seconds.
"I've contacted the South Carolina Highway Patrol and asked them to issue a few speeding tickets to slow them down."
When asked if he would kick to those same speedy players, Cribb said: "Sure we will."
Teams have been kicking the ball away from return men Corey Neely, Montay Crocket, Tay Hicklin and JaRyan Jennings.
"When we kick that way," he said looking to his left, "we are going to kick straight to No. 11 (Crockett). Over his head and out of bounds.
"And when we kick that way," he said looking right, "we plan to kick over No. 17's (Jennings) head and out of bounds."
So, the stage is set in what could be the closest and most exciting of the three championship games on Saturday. Both are relatively young programs.
Bluffton, Saturday's home team, opened in 2004 in a split with Hilton Head.
"We are on the other side of the bridge," Cribb said. "But we got the best players."
South Pointe played its first varsity game in August, 2005, and has produced some of the top players ever in the state. The Stallions are going to the title game for the third time and lost in the semifinal another.
The Stallions went 15-0 in 2008 and won the Class AAAA Division II championship in just their third season. South Pointe is the first school to have two S.C. Mr. Football Awards: Stephon Gilmore and Jadeveon Clowney, who play at South Carolina.
But first-year South Pointe coach Strait Herron, doesn't look back. He is straight forward and always seems focused.
"I see two football teams very much alike," he said. "We both have skilled athletes with a lot of speed. I get excited just thinking about the game, which should be a good one."
Bluffton, from Region 7-AAA is 14-0. South Pointe, a member of Region 4-AAA, is 13-1 and ranked No. 1.
South Pointe runs the flexbone offense, similar to the one employed by Georgia Tech. It's led by junior quarterback Devin Pearson, who is quietly having an outstanding season.
He has passed for 1,553 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,026 yards and 13 scores.
Bluffton is a Spread team and isn't shy about letting quarterback C.J. Frazier sling the ball. He has completed 186 of 318 passes for 3,367 yards and 55 touchdowns. The Bobcats have rushed for 2,569 yards and 41 touchdowns.
South Pointe's defense will be tested, but the Stallions have intercepted 26 passes.
But none of the players will be thinking about numbers on Saturday. On their minds will be bringing back glory for their school, fans and community.
"We built what we have on hard work and dedication," Herron said. "There are three high schools in Rock Hill and all of us play good football. At South Pointe, it might be some magic there."
Before the teams were called into the interview room for their turn with the media, South Pointe's Hicklin, Crockett and Neely sat in the lobby with Bluffton's Michael Grant and Michael Sulka.
No smack talk. Friendly talk and smiles as they got acquainted. Hicklin and Grant will be teammates in this year's South Carolina Shrine Bowl.
"It's crazy, but we have a close group," Grant said. "I'm the leader and the players listen to me. It's (leading) easy to do. Us seniors, we won just four of five games our first two years. The last two, we've lost only two games."
"These guys," Hicklin said with his arms around Crockett's and Neely's shoulders. "I love these guys. We are like a family; been together four years."
Video: Coaches discuss state title game
Video: Players discuss state title game
Class AAA state championship game
Who: South Pointe (13-1) vs. Bluffton (14-0)
When: Clemson's Memorial Stadium
When : Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
Radio : WRHM-107.1 FM, wrhi.com, 4 p.m.
Tickets : $10. On sale at South Pointe during lunch period starting today.
Barry Byers 329-4099