High School Football

High school football notes: Nation Ford getting defensive about its reputation

After Nation Ford gave up 67 points to Fort Mill in a 2014 rivalry beating, Falcons coaches met and decided to go with a youth movement.

Two of the cubs that were thrown into the fray were linebackers Vinny Catan and Corbin Tesimale. Catan was a freshman and Tesimale a sophomore, and two years later the pair are the muscular spine of a tough Falcon defense, one that’s statistically on pace to be the best the school has had.

Tesimale and Catan rank sixth and seventh in the area in tackles and both have been in double figures each game. They line up next to each other almost every snap and jointly call defensive plays for the 3-1 Falcons.

“I put the game in their hands, they get us lined up, and we play,” said Kirkley Russell, Nation Ford’s defensive coordinator.

Nation Ford linebackers Corbin Tesimale and Vinny Catan have been integral to the Falcons' strong start to this season. The Herald's Bret McCormick met up with them to find out how well they know each other.

Michael Allen’s Falcons have been an offensive juggernaut the last few seasons, but the defense was often overworked - short scoring drives - and often struggled. That began to change last season and appears to have really shifted this year, thanks in part to Tesimale and Catan.

That’s what we’ve preached since the beginning, just proving people wrong and the opportunity to grow as a family.

Nation Ford linebacker Corbin Tesimale, on two of the Falcons’ key directives this season

Nation Ford hosts Indian Land Friday with the chance to get off to the best start in school history. The Falcons held Lancaster to 113 yards rushing last Friday, the first game this season that the usually powerful Bruins were held under 238 rushing yards. Nation Ford’s defensive improvement has been timely considering the heavy graduation losses last year’s prolific offensive unit suffered.

“They do put up points, but it’s not 50 points a game,” said Catan about the Falcon offense. “The defense has to go out there and get a stop, and we just know that’s what we have to do.”

Catan is built like a bowling ball and he provides the duo’s power. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Tesimale is more slinky, using his quickness and elusiveness to beat blockers and make stops.

The pair are leaders on the field, but also in the locker room and school hallways. Tesimale is a straight-A student and unsurprisingly a team captain, given his Fortune 500 company spokesman-like to communicate. Catan is a rowdier character in the locker room and crucial to pumping up the team before kickoff.

“When they start holding other players accountable and we don’t have to do it as coaches? You’ve got them hooked,” said Russell. “They play hard, they play fast and they don’t care who makes the plays; they want the team to do well.”

Clover-York tickets on sale

The annual Clover-York high school football scrap Friday looks like an extremely interesting contest that should draw an even bigger than usual crowd. Tickets cost $6 and are on sale at both schools Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jamario Holley offered by South Carolina

South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp and offensive assistant Bobby Bentley were on the sidelines at District Three Stadium last Friday night watching Northwestern host Spartanburg. More specifically, the pair were sizing up Trojans sophomore receiver Jamario Holley, and, impressed with what they saw apparently, offered him a scholarship on Sunday in coach David Pierce’s office.

Holley was playing in his second game back after a collarbone bruise, and made a big impact. He caught six passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns and also had an 82-yard kickoff return to set up Northwestern’s first touchdown. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound receiver also has scholarship offers from Florida State, Kentucky and Tennessee, according to recruiting web sites Rivals, Scout and 247sports. He’s caught 17 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns, in three games.

Holley made an impact with the football Friday night:

A few things to note from MaxPreps:

▪ Clover is one of six undefeated teams remaining in 5A.

▪ The Blue Eagles have allowed just 46 points in four games, which is tied for second fewest statewide in the classification.

▪ Lewisville is the second highest scoring team in 1A, and is one four undefeated teams remaining in the classification.

▪ Chester has the fourth-highest scoring offense in 3A.

▪ Northwestern has the fifth-highest scoring team in 5A.

Growing pains hampering Indian Land

It’s been a tough climb up the realignment ladder this fall for Indian Land, and mounting injury issues aren’t helping.

Michael Mayer’s Warriors (1-4) lost three starters to serious injuries in last week’s 41-21 defeat against Chesterfield, including starting QB David Loughry. He broke his femur and is out for the season, while junior defensive end William Makowski is out four to five weeks after dislocating his elbow. Sophomore linebacker Robbie Cshuta has been an important contributor so far this year, but he’s having an MRI on a knee injury.

Sophomore Jay Hildreth will step in for Loughry at QB. He’ll become the sixth sophomore to start on offense for the Warriors, who also start a half dozen on defense. Hildreth’s first start this season will come Friday against a 3-1 Nation Ford team that looks tough. It’s been a perfect storm for Indian Land in its first season in the big(ger) leagues.

Tri-County Coaches’ Association players of the week from Week 4

4A, 5A schools

Offensive player of the week: Kirk Rygol, Nation Ford- senior QB was 18-for-23 passing for 235 yards and two touchdowns against Lancaster. Rygol also had 11 carries for 72 yards and another touchdown.

Offensive lineman: Will Faulkner, York- graded 89 percent with six knockdowns during York’s 49-39 win over Fort Mill.

Defensive player: J.T. Sanders, York- senior linebacker made 12 tackles, two third down stops, intercepted a pass, broke up another and had a sack and a tackle-for-loss in a busy outing against Fort Mill.

Defensive lineman: Eli Adams, South Pointe- junior defensive end was a nuisance against Mallard Creek, recording 10 tackles, six QB pressures, two tackles-for-loss, a sack and a forced fumble in the Stallions’ win.

Special teams: BT Potter, South Pointe- another junior that was key to the Stallions’ success against Mallard Creek, Potter was 1-for-2 on field goals, making a 44-yarder, hit both of his extra points, kicked all four kickoffs for touchbacks and punted eight times for a 42-yard average, with three downed inside the 20.

1A, 2A, 3A schools

Offensive player of the week: Malik Williams, Chester- senior accounted for 419 yards and seven touchdowns in Chester’s blowout of Lower Richland. Williams completed 10-of-17 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns, and ran the ball 17 times for 201 yards and four more touchdowns.

Offensive lineman: Xi Simpson, Chester- senior right guard graded out at 86 percent with six knockdown blocks and two lead blocks for touchdowns. The Cyclones rushed for 351 yards against Lower Richland.

Defensive player: Ira Grant, Chester- sophomore linebacker made 15 tackles, including one tackle-for-loss, and broke up a pass during Chester’s win over Lower Richland.

Defensive lineman: Logan Teeter, Indian Land- Teeter, a senior linebacker, recorded six tackles (four solos) and three tackles-for-loss, while Sanders produced similar numbers with six tackles, three for a loss and two sacks.

Special teams: John Erby, Chester- senior hit 7-of-8 extra points, punted four times for a 36-yard average and hit two kickoffs four touchbacks.

State rankings headed into Week 5

South Pointe vaulted back into the top spot in South Carolina 4A football on the strength of its 17-6 win over North Carolina’s top-ranked 4A school and three-time defending state champ, Mallard Creek. The Stallions had dropped to third after losing to St. Frances Academy in Maryland two weeks ago, but returned to No. 1 despite wins by Myrtle Beach and Hartsville, the two teams the Stallions jumped.

Northwestern stayed at No. 3 in 5A, while Byrnes fell out of the top 10. The Trojans’ Friday opponent, Gaffney, is No. 5. Clover is still receiving votes in the 5A poll.

Lancaster dropped out of the 4A rankings after a second consecutive loss, while Chester is receiving votes in the 3A poll. Lewisville is up to No. 3 in 1A, the Lions’ highest ranking in years.

Class 5A

1. Dutch Fork; 2. Westside; 3. Northwestern; 4. Fort Dorchester; 5. Gaffney; 6. Boiling Springs; 7. Dorman; 8. Spartanburg; 9. Sumter; 10. Greenwood

Votes: Blythewood, T.L. Hanna, Clover, Spring Valley

Class 4A

1. South Pointe; 2. Myrtle Beach; 3. Hartsville; 4. Ridge View; 5. Belton-Honea Path; 6. Cane Bay; 7. North Myrtle Beach; 8. Greer; 9. South Aiken; T10. Union County; T10. Dreher; T10. Greenville

Votes: North Augusta, Lancaster, Richland Northeast, Chapin, Hilton Head Island

Class 3A

1. Dillon; 2. Bluffton; 3. Strom Thurmond; 4. Fairfield Central; 5. Bishop England; 6.Woodruff; 7. Chapman; 8. Brookland-Cayce; 9. Gilbert; 10. Newberry

Votes: Lake City, Broome, Powdersville, Georgetown, Chester

Class 2A

1. Abbeville; 2. Southside Christian; 3. Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 4. Cheraw; 5. Barnwell; 6. Calhoun County; T7. Allendale-Fairfax; T7. Chesterfield; 9. Saluda; 10. Batesburg-Leesville

Votes: Carvers Bay, Chesnee, Lee Central, Andrews, Blacksburg, Andrew Jackson

Class 1A

1. Lamar; 2. Lake View; 3. Lewisville; 4. Wagener-Salley; 5. McBee; 6. Cross; 7. C.E. Murray; 8. Hemingway; 9. Baptist Hill; 10. Williston-Elko

Votes: Ridge Spring-Monetta, Blackville-Hilda, Bethune-Bowman, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, St. John's

The S.C. Prep Media Football Poll is conducted by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal with voting from Michael Christopher, Greenwood Index Journal; Bob Castello, Greenville News; Chris Clark, Orangeburg Times and Democrat; Chris Dearing, The State; Joe Hughes, Myrtle Beach Sun News; Kevin Melton, Spartanburg Herald Journal; Lou Bezjak, The State; Lake Morris, Anderson Independent Mail; David Shelton, Charleston Post and Courier; Bret McCormick, The Herald (Rock Hill); Scott Chancey, Florence Morning News and Eric Russell, Aiken Standard.