Player of the week spotlight: South Pointe’s O’Mega Blake
Out of nowhere, in its intra-region matchup with Nation Ford on Friday night, South Pointe had a tough question to answer.
Entering the game, junior starting quarterback Tahleek Steele had taken nearly every snap for his team — orchestrating a pair of wins that didn’t have much room for error, seeming to grow more and more confident with every rep. But in the first quarter of Friday night’s contest, Steele suffered an injury and didn’t return.
“The whole injury made us answer some questions about ourselves as a team,” head coach DeVonte Holloman told The Herald at practice on Tuesday.
The question: Who would take up the offense’s mantle?
The answer (as soon became clear): O’Mega Blake.
The senior receiver and punter was tasked with taking the lead behind center. Three quarters and some change later — at the end of a game where the Stallions scored the most points they had all season — he seemed to have done the job.
“All I could do is just bring my team to a ‘W,’ lead my team the right way and make smart decisions with the ball,” Blake said.
Blake ended Friday night going 13-of-21 passing for 180 yards and a touchdown en route to South Pointe’s third win in as many games. He also rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
On Tuesday, Blake was voted as the Tri-County Coaches Association’s 5A, 4A offensive player of the week.
“It’s a good spot, if you’re looking at it from my point of view,” Holloman said, “because you have two guys that are capable of moving the football.”
Don’t be misled: Steele is this team’s starting quarterback. Blake referred to Steele as “my quarterback,” in fact.
But as Blake took a few reps from the shotgun and worked through play calls with the offensive line at practice on Tuesday — asking questions quietly but intently to his coaches about which reads he should make and when he should hand the ball off — it seemed clear that Blake was preparing as if his number could be called again.
“I think we’ll continue to use both guys; of course, Tahleek is the starter,” Holloman said. “But we may need to put in a package for O’Mega because we see how much of a weapon he is, using his legs and also his arm strength.”
When Steele went down in the first quarter on Friday night, South Pointe faced a tough, revealing set of circumstances. But, after a reassuring performance from Blake, it emerged with plans of using both quarterbacks at opportune times — and with a renewed sense of how powerful the team could be.
COMPLETE PLAYER OF THE WEEK LIST
Here’s a look at all the players of the week and their stats from this past week’s slate of high school football games.
Offensive Player of the Week: O’Mega Blake.
Nominations: Colby Clayton (York), Jaylin Lane (Clover), Petey Tuipulotu (Nation Ford), Jackson Roberson (Rock Hill).
Co-Defensive Players of the Week: Hayden Johnson and Petey Tuipulotu.
Johnson had 10 tackles and four tackles for loss in his team’s win over South Point (North Carolina). Clover is now 3-0 on the season.
Tuipulotu notched 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception in Nation Ford’s first loss of the season to South Pointe on Friday night. The Falcons are now 2-1.
Nominations: Alex English (Rock Hill).
Offensive Lineman of the Week: Alfred Williams.
Williams had three knockdowns, two pancake blocks and graded out at 92 percent in South Pointe’s contest against Nation Ford. The senior played every snap on Friday night.
Nominations: Tanner Galbreath (Rock Hill), Jesse Helms (Clover), Robert Campbell (Nation Ford).
Defensive Lineman of the Week: Jordan Hickman.
Hickman, of Nation Ford, notched 13 tackles and one tackle for loss in the form of a quarterback sack.
Nominations: Maurice Bonneau (Rock Hill), Kam Moyers (Fort Mill).
Co-Special Teams Players of the Week: Zacch Davis and Steven Neese.
Davis began Clover’s Friday night by taking the opening kickoff to the house. That 90-yard touchdown run accounted for the bulk of his 165 special team yardage.
Steven Neese, in Fort Mill’s first win of the season, blocked a punt and rushed for 33 yards on a successful Fort Mill fake punt. Neese also made affected the game in the defensive phase: He had an interception and one pass break up.
Nominations: Quinn Castner (Nation Ford), Ethan Dutton (Rock Hill).
3A, 2A, 1A
There were no additional nominations in the below categories.
Offensive Player of the Week: O.J. White.
White, of Andrew Jackson, had five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown and also notched four carries for 84 yards and a touchdown in his team’s 39-0 win on Friday night.
Defensive Player of the Week: Gavin Blackmon.
Andrew Jackson’s Blackmon added 10.5 tackles and three pass breakups. He’s been a leader all season on defense — a unit that hasn’t given up a point in its first three contests.
Offensive Lineman of the Week: Noah Boone.
Boone, a Volunteer as well, graded out at 92 percent with three pancakes.
Defensive Lineman of the Week: James Gillcrease.
Lewisville’s Gillcrease had nine tackles and three sacks in his team’s loss to county rival, Great Falls.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Jake Vaughn.
Vaughn of Andrew Jackson put together a spotless night on Friday. He was 4-for-4 in extra points, and he knocked in the only field goal he was asked to kick, from 33 yards out.