Wardlaw wins 8-man state title
WARDLAW 58, St. JOHN’S 42
By SCOTT RODGERS
ST. MATTHEWS — The Patriots and Cavaliers traded blows for the SCISA 8-man championship, but it was Wardlaw Academy who ended up victorious.
The Patriots (11-1) were led by a monster game by running back Malik Lee. The sophomore sensation was electric, rushing 36 times for 354 yards and six touchdowns. He even completed a pass on his lone attempt.
“Yeah, they blocked well and gave me a lot of open holes, and I used my speed like always,” the soft-spoken Lee said in reference to his offensive line, which also had an amazing performance.
Lee was locked in a duel with St. John’s Christian Academy’s (11-2) Rashae Bey. Bey entered the game having put up monster numbers without even playing into the second half. On this night, he was asked to play the whole game and responded with 188 yards in 18 carries for three scores of his own.
“It felt good because I had to lead the team like they told me to at the beginning of the game,” said Lee, who was battling an ankle injury for the entire fourth quarter. “I had to fight through the pain.”
For most of the first half, Lee and Bey traded scores. Neither team attempted an extra point, with 2-point conversions becoming crucial. Seemingly every time one team would make a two-pointer, the other would respond, and each time a team failed, the other did the same.
The victory was extra sweet for first-year head coach Mark Rodgers.
“I feel good; it was a long road, but we hoed it out,” a jubilant Rodgers said following the game. “The boys played well tonight. (Malik) came to play, just like the rest of them. The offensive line blocked well, the fullback blocked well and we didn’t hurt ourselves with turnovers. That’s what you have to do in the championship game.”
The second half saw the Patriots put some distance between themselves and the Cavaliers. It was especially true in the third quarter, where Lee found paydirt three times and also converted two-of-three 2-point conversions. The Patriots also got two onside kicks, as well, to keep the ball away from the Cavaliers, who failed to convert their lone 2-point attempt of the quarter after a penalty forced them back 5 yards.
The scariest moment in the game came with 2:20 left in the third. St John’s Christian Academy’s Mike Lewis was hurt on an attempted onside kick recovery. He laid motionless for a handful of minutes before an ambulance arrived. As he was loaded up, he gave a thumbs up to a standing ovation from both sides of the bleachers.
For Rodgers and his Patriots, this will be a night to celebrate, but of course, he’s keeping an eye toward the future.
“Well, I like it, but I’ve got to go right back to work on Monday,” he said.
Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.
W 6 16 22 14 – 58
SJ 6 16 12 8 – 42
SJ-Rashae Bey 12 rush (2 point pass failed) 9:43
W-Malik Lee 3 rush (2 point rush failed) 3:57
W-Lee 38 rush (Lee 2-point rush) 10:40
SJ-Bey 47 rush (Bey 2-point rush) 9:49
W-Lee 48 rush (Lee 2-point rush) 9:33
SJ-Evan Hammond 2 rush (Hammond 2-point rush) 1:03
W-Lee 13 rush (2-point rush failed) 8:31
SJ-Hammond 1 rush (2-point rush failed) 6:38
W-Lee 15 rush (Lee 2-point rush) 4:14
SJ-Bey 70 kickoff return (2 point pass failed) 4:00
W-Lee 44 rush (Lee 2-point rush) 2:24
W-Kerry Cockrell 3 rush (Lee 2-point rush) 9:30
W-Lee 49 rush (2-point rush failed) 9:13
SJ-Bey 4 rush (Bey 2-point rush) 6:24
W-Malik Lee 36-354-6 TDs, Holton Manly 7-34, Earnest Woodward 1-3, Daylen Morris 2-4, Kerry Cockrell 9-33-TD
SJ-Rashae Bey 18-188-3 TDs, Evan Hammond 4-11-TD, Bobby Winters 3-4
W-Holton Manly 2-4-28, Malik Lee 1-1-8
SJ-Evan Hammond 10-19-183
W-Ben Dodson 1-19, Dylan Seaman 1-8, Malik Lee 1-9
SJ-Jalen Ward 3-50, Damian Hurta 6-108, Mike Lewis 1-5