They've heard about Goose Creek for almost two years.
Now, after dismantling Irmo 30-0 Friday night, South Pointe gets to face the undefeated No. 1 seed Gators in the second round of the Class AAAA Division II football playoffs. It's a matchup the Stallions relish.
We know they're good, and we don't care, said South Pointe coach Strait Herron. We've always said we'll play anybody, anywhere, any time, and this will be a great thing. We're gonna learn something from it either way.
Chuck Reedy's program was evicted from the playoffs last season due to an eligibility snafu, but the Gators haven't lost an actual football game since the 2011 regular season finale, a span of 28 straight games. The Stallions (10-2) set up a meeting with the vaunted low-country juggernaut by following a tried and true recipe, equal parts pounding the football on the ground and causing chaos on defense.
We challenged our offensive and defensive lines and told them 'this is where the game's gonna be won,' Herron said, his hood up to deflect a steady rain. Both of them stepped up. We had running lanes all night long and our defense put pressure on 15 (Irmo QB Demetrius Lewis).
Led by sophomore quarterback Zaylin Burris' 117 yards and a touchdown, South Pointe rushed the ball 59 times for 338 yards, while limiting Irmo (6-6) to 224 yards of total offense and less than 100 yards on the ground, the Stallions' ninth such effort in 11 games. Zeek Rodney, Matt Newman, Jontae Henry and Nick Adams all were in on sacks as the Stallions shut out their third opponent this season, despite missing starting linebacker Demon Davis.
In practice, we knew he was gonna run around, so we had scramble drills to try to get to him before he threw the ball, said Rodney, referring to Lewis. We told the secondary if they could hold them for two and half seconds, we could get some pressure on them.
South Pointe revealed its primary offensive aims on the games first drive. Utilizing the zone read to blistering effect, Burris either tucked the ball into Josh Brice's belly, or kept it himself. On the initial possession, Burris picked up 25, Brice 16, and then Burris went for 19 as South Pointe plowed over the visitors. Burris capped off the impressive drive by twisting into the end zone from 3 yards out.
The hosts didn't score again until their final drive of the half. All the while, the defense was busy putting together a typically stingy performance. Irmo punted on four of its first half possessions, the other two ending on an interception and the expiration of the clock for halftime. The Stallions took a 14-0 lead into the break thanks to Kyle Brandt's 12-yard touchdown catch from Burris. Montez McCullough was right behind Brandt in case he dropped the ball.
When I came to the sideline he told me, 'you stole my touchdown,' Brandt said afterward, laughing. I just told Zaylin, if he throws it in my area, I'll catch it.
South Pointe jumped right on Irmo's backs in the second half. Henry sacked Lewis, before Rodney and Tay Robinson-Locke shared a half sack each, forcing Bob Hanna's side to punt again. The visitors punted six times, turned the ball over twice, suffered a safety and turned the ball over on downs.
I told the offense if they score just one time, we're confident enough in our defense that they weren't going to put any points up on us, said Rodney.
Anthony Johnson kept the ensuing drive breathing with a tidy toe-tap on the sideline for a 35-yard pickup, and bruising sophomore Vinny Emmanuele later scored on a 3-yard run to make it 21-0.
South Pointe then stopped Irmo on fourth down, before dropping Ronnie Jamison in the end zone on the following drive for a safety. The Stallions took advantage of a short field and Bree Minor brushed off a tackle before rumbling into the end zone for a 21-yard score.
The win secured South Pointe's fifth straight season with 10 wins or more. Bring on the Gators.
We wanted to play them last year, but since they got kicked out we couldnt. We haven't looked past Irmo or anything, but coach Herron said he has looked at film and it's just gonna be a game, said Rodney. I can't wait to play against them.
South Pointe 30, Irmo 0
SPHS Zaylin Burris 4 run (Kyle Dix kick)
SPHS Kyle Brandt 12 pass from Burris (Dix kick)
SPHS Vinny Emmanuele 3 run (Dix kick)
SPHS Bree Minor 21 run (Dix kick)
RUSHING: IHS: Demetrius Lewis 15-65; Ronnie Jamison 8-16; Jaylon Tharp 1-(-2); De'Ares Nelson 1-11. SPHS: Zaylin Burris 15-117; Josh Brice 13-53; Bree Minor 10-62; Vinny Emmanuele 14-56; Anthony Johnson 2-46; Devion Williams 2-0; Greg Ruff 3-14.
PASSING: IHS: Lewis 14-31-1. SPHS: Burris 7-11-1; Williams 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: IHS: Brandy Holmes 3-26; Nelson 5-56; Manny Banks . SPHS: Kyle Brandt 4-35; Johnson 2-46; Montez McCullough 1-7.
RECORDS: IHS 6-6; SPHS 10-2
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T