CENTRAL — Every once in a while, Daniel football coach Randy Robinson’s pregame speech involves delving into the past.
“I’m a history teacher,” Robinson said. “I’ll drag out one of the history lessons for them.”
Before Friday’s Class AAA third-round playoff game against Chester, Robinson told his Lions that nine previous Daniel teams had reached the Upper State final and five went on to win championships.
This year’s edition became the 10th to reach the state semifinals by whipping Chester 35-6 at Singleton Field.
Daniel (11-2) will host Union County next week.
Junior running back Jae’lon Oglesby, a Clemson recruit, rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns. Daniel picked off four passes, one of which was returned 55 yards for a score by defensive lineman Joel Starkes.
“That’s as well as we’ve played,” Robinson said. “We keep saying we haven’t played our best football yet, and I hope we can match that again next Friday night.”
Oglesby scored on Daniel’s second play from scrimmage on a 65-yard run, and he added touchdown runs of 2 and 6 yards in the first quarter, which ended with Daniel ahead 21-0.
“He’s an awesome back,” Chester coach Anthony Sterling said. “He deserves to be a commitment to Clemson, and I’m sure he’ll do well. He’s got good speed. He’s just as junior? Man, he’s going to be something to deal with next year.”
Amir Trapp and Daulton Pilgrim set up the second and third touchdowns, respectively, with interceptions, and Starkes and Adrien Dunn picked off passes in the second half.
Starkes stepped in front of a short pass early in the fourth quarter, got a helpful nudge and ran 55 yards for a touchdown.
“I was a little nervous running with the ball, because it was my first interception,” Starkes said. “I owe my teammate, J.D. Davis. He gave me a push, and I broke through a tackle and got a touchdown for everybody.”
It was the highlight for a defense that held Chester (7-6) to 234 yards, 89 of which came on its final drive. The Cyclones scored on the final play of the game on a 2-yard pass from Tommy Sanders to Melvin Jackson.
“That’s OK,” Robinson said. “They were screaming shutout, but in my eyes they canceled out. (Our defense) scored one.”
Daniel’s other touchdown came on a 37-yard pass from Andy McCall to Tyus Gaines. McCall completed 9 of 13 for 135 yards, and Gaines had seven catches for 119 yards.
DANIEL 35, CHESTER 6
D-Jae’lon Oglesby 65 run (Rivers Sherrill kick)
D-Oglesby 2 run (Sherrill kick)
D-Oglesby 6 run (Sherrill kick)
D-Tyus Gaines 37 pass from Andy McCall (Sherrill kick)
D-Joel Starkes 55 interception return (Sherrill kick)
C-Melvin Jackson 2 pass from Tommy Sanders
Rushing: C-Tommy Sanders 17-41, Lorenzo White 10-35, Broderick Roscoe 8-37; D-Jae’lon Oglesby 26-205, Adrien Dunn 1-18, Andy McCall 2-12, Jared Dillingham 5-30, Tyreck Bell 7-12, Austin Barnes 3-5.
Passing: C-Sanders 10-16-4 116; D-McCall 9-13-1 135.
Receiving: C-Melvin Jackson 3-42, JaMarcus Moore 1-4, Roscoe 1-6, Quan Caldwell 3-49, White 1-0, Marcell Hampton 1-15; D-Tyus Gaines 7-119, Dunn 2-16.