Rebels back to blocking foes' kicks
By Billy Byler | Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Strom Thurmond went two weeks without blocking an extra-point attempt early in the season. While considered standard for most teams, it wasn't acceptable to head coach Lee Sawyer .

"We've always been pretty decent at it, and it's something we emphasize," he said. "We had to go back and re-emphasize it."

The extra attention helped two weeks ago when the Rebels blocked two PATs in a win over Silver Bluff. Last week, Strom Thurmond's kick-blocking expertise played a key role in a one-point region win over Mid-Carolina.

The Rebels blocked a point-after attempt in the first half. When Mid-Carolina scored midway through the fourth quarter to get to within one, the home team went for two.

"I think that had something to do with our earlier blocked kicks," Sawyer said. "We stopped them at the one."

Strom Thurmond sits in first place in Region 2-AA with three other teams at 4-2 on the season. The Rebels will face one of those teams, Batesburg-Leesville, at home Friday, while the other two, Newberry and Gilbert, meet at Newberry.

"This is a huge week to kind of separate yourself a little bit," Sawyer said.

DOUBLE FLUKE: South Aiken head coach Robert Wrightenberry stood on the sidelines the past two weeks not believing what he saw.

His Thoroughbreds defense held Barnwell and Dreher to three-and-outs to start the game. Then, in both contests, the following punts hit South Aiken blockers on fluke plays, giving the ball right back to the opposing team.

"I haven't seen that happen on the first punts of back-to-back games in 30 years of coaching," Wrightenberry said.

But the Thoroughbreds, who started the season 0-4 in a brutal nonregion schedule, managed to win both games and will play winless Brookland-Cayce on Friday.

"You're not going to say that those (non-region) games don't matter," Wrightenberry said.

"But these next four games are what's going to determine what happens after Oct. 31, and for us to have a chance it starts this Friday. We've got to win this one."

BIG GAME: North Augusta and Irmo, both ranked in last week's Class AAAA Associated Press poll, will meet in an unofficial region championship game Friday.

Both teams are the Yellow Jackets. They will enter the game as the only squads in Region 5-AAAA with more than two wins.

North Augusta is the only undefeated team in the region at 6-0. Irmo boasts a 5-1 record, with the lone loss coming against Class AAAA Fort Dorchester.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

From the Wednesday, October 07, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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