Northwestern (12-2) vs. Greenwood (14-0)

Northwestern Trojans meet familiar foe in state title game

bbyers@heraldonline.comNovember 30, 2012 

Back in 2010, Greenwood football coach Gene Cathcart stood on the field at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium and talked about how good Northwestern was.

His team had just suffered a 42-10 whooping by the Trojans ans Cathcart said he felt the game would be close and that he had underestimated the Trojans.

That won’t happen Saturday when the teams have a rematch of the 2010 game, at noon. He learned a lesson that day and saw a talented team that went 15-0 for the first time, letting nothing stand in its way.

Cathcart’s team is the undefeated one this time, sporting a 14-0 record. Northwestern slipped twice and is 12-2. The Trojans were a couple of plays from being undefeated, losing one game by two points and the other in overtime.

“We knew they were good on offense, but was surprised how physical Northwestern was on defense,” Cathcart said.. “I was impressed, just as I with this year’s team. Northwestern likes to blitz and makes good decisions when to do it.

“At times, it’s like all the fish in the pond are dead, but the sharks re still swimming. They are just as physical this year, but what impresses me most is their quarterback. He runs the team well and always looks calm.”

Mason Rudolph is the third outstanding quarterback to play under Trojans coach Kyle Richardson. The first was Will King, when Richardson was hired by Jimmy Wallace to be team’s offensive coordinator. He’s a now wide receiver at Furman.

The second was Justin Worley, who rewrote the this state’s passing records and was named Gatorade’s South Carolina football player of the year. Worley is a sophomore back-up quarterback at Tennessee.

Rudolph (6-foot-5), as Worley did, had his moments learning Richardson’s ‘Air Raid,’ pass-first offense. But this year, he’s mastered the plays and varied formations. He has passed for 3,787 yards and 39 touchdowns. He has been offered a full ride from LSU.

But he’ll be hounded by Greenwood’s defense, which has allowed only 148.5 yards per game. The Trojans average 42 points an outing. The Eagles have allowed only 183 points, an average of 13.1.

“Greenwood has a very talented team with a lot of good athletes,” Richardson said. “They are one of those teams who find a way to get it done.

“Their defense is huge and quick. And when we watched film. No. 39 (Devan Durant) stood out. He’s a linebacker and is all over the field.”

The biggest dilemma for Northwestern is preparing for two quarterbacks this week at practice. Thomas Turner started in place of injured first-teamer Evin Sims last week.

He broke out the passing game for an Eagles team that rarely throws and spearheaded a 35-30 win over South Pointe.

Cathcart will not discuss Sims’ status for Saturday, but it would be a no-brainer to start him if he’s ready to go.

Sims has run for 935 yards ans 23 touchdowns. He’s thrown 93 passes, completing 35 for 598 yards and four touchdowns.

“We saw on film that Turner is a very athletic guy,” Richardson said. “And he has two tall receivers who can make big plays when they catch the ball.

“I believe it will come down to which defense plays best.”

Barry Byers 329-4099

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