Highlights from South Pointe 3A state championship win over Midland Valley
South Pointe moves up to 4A next season in the High School League’s new five-class system, and will probably never play another game in the 3A classification.
South Pointe proved again on Saturday its the class of 3A thumpingMidland Valley 35-0 in the state championship game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“It feels great,” said junior running back Voshon St. Hill, who had a tough time holding a conversation owing to his postgame glee. “I’m happy, man!”
The Stallion buried the Mustangs early, but it was the Stallions’ power run game that did the trick, not their usual big-play strike force. South Pointe stopped Midland Valley on fourth down at the Stallions’ 35-yard line, then marched to the end zone behind a strong running game. St. Hill punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Stallions the lead.
After a short Midland Valley punt, South Pointe doubled its lead. St. Hill and Greg Ruff ran for first downs, before Ruff lobbed a 14-yard touchdown pass into Lorenzo Wells’ lap for a 14-0 lead. It was 21-0 shortly thereafter. Eli Adams’ sack forced another punt by Midland Valley and Ruff hit Quay Brown for a 12-yard touchdown in the left side of the end zone for a three-score cushion with 8 minutes, 19 seconds left in the half.
Even turnovers on consecutive possessions late in the half couldn’t undo South Pointe.
Ruff threw his first interception of the season on a telegraphed screen pass, but the Stallion defense stiffened in the red zone, forcing a missed 26-yard field goal. St. Hill then fumbled on the first play of the next drive. On third and goal the Stallions pressured Midland Valley quarterbackDaniel Carr and Nick McCloud intercepted his pass in the end zone to avert the danger.
A South Pointe score in each of the third and fourth quarters prettied up the scoreline, as the Stallions became the seventh school in 3A history to win consecutive state championships.
“They were very quick, very tough,” said Midland Valley coach Rick Knight. “Best team we’ve faced this year, of course.”
The turning point came early. After South Pointe took a 7-0 lead, Midland Valley’s offense stalled, resulting in a shanked, short punt. The Stallions capitalized on the short field, Wells leaping over his defender for a 14-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead. When
Midland Valley was caught in a defensive conundrum: the Mustangs could rush the passer with all their might, leaving the secondary and South Pointe’s arsenal of college-quality receiving talent - thinly covered, or drop eight guys into coverage and rush with just three. Rick Knight’s defense chose the latter, and South Pointe took advantage, running for a season-high 298 yards, an average of 6.3 per carry.
Stallion offensive coordinator Jason McManus identified that possibility earlier in the week while scouting Midland Valley. Ruff ran for nine yards on the first offensive play of the game, against a three-man rush.
“When they do that, you have to run the football,” he said. “They kept everything in front of them, they’re not gonna give up the big play and the reason they beat Myrtle Beach last week is because Myrtle Beach made no attempt to run the football. You gotta’ take what they give you.”
Ruff and St. Hill were the primary weapons of rushing destruction for South Pointe. The pair combined for 229 yards on the ground - Ruff leading the way with 147 - and a pair of touchdowns.
“The run opened up more passing lanes,” said St. Hill. He stopped, put his hand over his mouth and smiled. “I’m too happy, man, I’m too happy.”
The only blemish on Ruff’s day was the interception, his first of the season. He finished the year with one pick in 364 pass attempts.
“Man, you had to bring that up,” he said, laughing when a reporter mentioned the oddity.
Sophomore kicker B.T. Potter hit four of his six kickoffs for touchbacks, making certain that the Mustangs never started with great field position.
Junior linebacker and leading tackler Bryson Cooper made nine stops and forced a fumble, while McCloud made five tackles, with one for a loss and an interception, the sixth of his senior season. Midland Valley linebacker Xavier Leaphart finished with 17 tackles.
“They were a fast defense so I had to use my moves to throw them off,” said Ruff, who spent much of the game scampering around the field, toying with Mustang tacklers.
South Pointe 35, Midland Valley 0
SPHS – Voshon St. Hill 1 run (B.T. Potter kick), 4:41
SPHS – Lorenzo Wells 14 pass from Greg Ruff (Potter kick), 1:31
SPHS – Quay Brown 12 pass from Ruff (Potter kick), 8:19
SPHS – Ruff 62 run (Potter kick), 8:10
SPHS – Brown 30 pass from Ruff (Potter kick), 11:54
RUSHING South Pointe: Greg Ruff 14-147; Voshon St. Hill 17-82; Steve Gilmore 3-25; Geomni Mayfield 3-23; Elijah Adams 1-5; Dezmond Good 2-3; Derion Kendrick 1-3; Marice Whitlock 1-2. Midland Valley: Dre’Kwon Carr 25-85; Daniel Carr 5-(-31).
PASSING South Pointe: Ruff 15-20-1, 165 yards. Midland Valley: Daniel Carr 14-33-1, 168 yards.
RECEIVING South Pointe: Quay Brown 8-121; Josh Wilkes 4-14; Lorenzo Wells 1-14; Tony Cherry 1-8; St. Hill 1-8. Midland Valley: Zach Johnson 6-84; Ethan Ennis 4-48; D.J. Boyd 2-16; Xavier Leaphart 1-18; Dre’Kwon Carr 1-2.
RECORDS South Pointe 14-1; Midland Valley 9-5