Stingy defense and freshman RB lead Hartsville to victory
By Rob Teal
After a disappointing loss to Camden last week, the Hartsville Red Fox football team was looking to get back to their winning ways on Friday night as they traveled down to Conway for their annual bout with the Conway High School Tigers.
The weather was the biggest issue early in the evening. They had a couple of weather delays due to lightning. And thanks to what seemed to be slick footballs, neither team could get their respective passing games going throughout the contest. There were several dropped passes on the night by receivers who normally catch any ball thrown to them.
Hartsville received the opening kick and Conway found out immediately that Red Fox freshman running back #15 J’Shawn Anderson was ready to introduce himself to SC varsity football as he returned the kick past midfield and into Tiger territory. Then on the first play of the game Anderson ran for another 17 yard gain and a first down. After that the offense missed on a couple of passes and the drive stalled as the Red Foxes faced 4th and 10 deep inside Conway territory. And that is when the second lightning delay of the night came. The teams headed to their locker rooms and the fans were required to leave the football stadium for 30 minutes.
When play resumed the Red Foxes were sacked on that 4th and 10 and turned the ball over on downs to Conway. But Hartsville's defense, like they would time and again throughout the ballgame, smothered the Tiger offense and forced a Conway punt from deep in their own territory.
The punt was blocked by a host of Red Fox defenders and Hartsville took over with great field position deep inside Tiger territory. Unfortunately the offense couldn’t capitalize on the great field position and went three and out. With the ball sitting on the 11 yard line and facing a 4th down and 5, Coach Jeff Calabrese called on place kicker #37 Chase Elsesser to try a 28 yard field goal. The always cool junior executed the kick nicely and Hartsville took the early 3-0 lead.
After forcing a couple of Conway punts, the Red Foxes took over at its own 31 yard line. #5 Owen Taylor connected with #3 Darian McMillan for a nice 25 yard pass that took the ball into Conway territory. On the very next play Hartsville’s freshman phenom RB, #15 J’Shawn Anderson, took a handoff off the right side for 46 yards and the first touchdown of his Red Fox career. The PAT was good and the Red Foxes led 10-0 entering the second quarter.
Early in the second quarter is when the Hartsville defense became a really stingy unit. After Anderson’s highlight reel TD run, the Red Fox defense decided that they should make a few highlights of their own. Facing third down and long the Conway Tigers dropped back to pass looking for a much needed first down. Instead last week’s Shoney's Defensive Player of the Week, #9 Kevon Haigler read the QB’s eyes and stepped in front of the receiver for an interception. Haigler almost found pay dirt as he returned the interception to the Conway 2 yard line.
The Red Fox offense took advantage of the turnover this time and #3 Dariyan McMillan took a handoff straight through the middle of the Conway defensive line, a line that features future South Carolina Gamecock defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway, for the second and final touchdown of the night. Elsesser’s extra point was good and Hartville was up 17-0 with two minutes to go in the first half.
Thanks to two controversial pass interference calls the Conway Tigers were able to move the ball down the field for the first time in the game. And with 14 seconds left in the second quarter and facing a fourth down and goal, Conway finally got on the board with a TD of their own. The PAT was blocked and Hartsville took a 17-6 lead into the half.
The second half of the contest was full of action and lots of penalties. The Hartsville defense would end up being on the field for 90% of the second half snaps. Fortunately for the Red Foxes the defense was up for the challenge. Neither team scored in the final two quarters and Hartsville loaded the bus to head back to Darlington County with a 17-6 victory. The Red Foxes improve to 2-1 on the season.
Even with the Tigers controlling the ball for an overwhelming majority of the second half, they only managed to gain second half yards. Conway finished the night with 210 yards of total offense.
Hartsville shot themselves in the foot all night on offense. I lost count trying to keep up with how many false start penalties the Red Foxes collected in this game. But they put points on the board when they had the opportunities and the only stat that really matters is the final score. Hartsville finished with just 165 yards of total offense. 39 yards passing and 126 yards on the ground.
The Shoney’s Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row goes to #9 Kevon Haigler. Kevon plays with a very high motor and that motor helped him grab two interceptions and heap of tackles on Friday night in Conway.
The Shoney's Offensive Player of the Week is #15 J’Shawn Anderson. J’Shawn is only in the ninth grade but it’s hard to know that when you watch him play. We’ve been hearing about his talent all summer heading into this season. And after watching his performance Friday night in Conway, we all know why the coaching staff is so high on this young star. J’Shawn had 114 yards rushing on just 13 carries. The future is bright for J’Shawn.
The Red Foxes return home to the friendly confines of Kelleytown Stadium this Friday to take on the Bluffton High School Bobcats.