PETTICOAT JUNCTION — According to senior RJ Stallings, Silver Bluff head football coach Al Lown often tells his Bulldogs to picture what they think they’re going to do in a game. For Stallings, that’s meant a lot of time visualizing big plays and helping his team win.
That vision came to life in Week Three, as Stallings scored four total touchdowns in a 36-20 win over South Aiken Friday night. Because of his performance, Stallings was selected as the Aiken Standard Player of the Week for Week Three of the 2013 high school football season.
His big plays in each facet of the game allowed the Bulldogs to build a sizable lead early. Stallings scored three touchdowns within a span of less than three minutes, putting the Bulldogs ahead 18-0 before the game was even six minutes old. The quick start was important for Silver Bluff, a team that likes to run the football and pound its opponents into submission.
“No doubt about it, we’re a running team,” said Lown. “That enabled us to keep playing our game and not have to throw the ball more than we really want to.”
Two of Stallings’ touchdowns occurred on running plays. The first was a 50-yarder with 9:16 to go in the opening quarter to put the Bulldogs on the board. The second, a 10-yard run with 9:05 to go in the second, gave Silver Bluff the 24-7 lead it would take into halftime.
In addition to the two scores Friday night, Stallings led all rushers in the game with 119 yards on 12 carries. With those touchdowns, he has scored on the ground in three of Silver Bluff’s four games this season, including a pair that have been 50 yards or longer.
“We preach speed a lot here at Silver Bluff,” Lown said. “And he’s got a pretty good bit of it.”
Stallings’ other touchdowns were both scored after catches: one a 23-yarder from Bulldogs quarterback Jaylen Lawrence, and the other on an interception thrown by South Aiken quarterback Bo Baldwin on the next possession.
“He made a heck of an adjustment on it,” Lown said of Stallings’ 45-yard interception return, “and then made a quick reaction to not just catch the ball, but then think about scoring.”
A senior captain, Stallings is one of many upperclassmen that can be found on Silver Bluff’s roster. With that title and status comes responsibility.
“I’ve got to be a leader,” said Stallings. “We’ve got a lot of leaders out here. All those leaders are a bunch of seniors. We’ve got to take control.”
Stallings added that there have been many improvements during his years as a Bulldog, and that this year’s team is showing that.
“A lot of good blocking,” Stallings said of Silver Bluff’s progress. “Offensive line? They got better. Defense? They got better. Our coverages got better. Everybody’s just playing as a team now.”
In addition to team progress, Lown has seen a lot of advancements made by Stallings. According to Lown, his senior captain has grown up a lot, and that he and his fellow seniors have a real commitment to having a great season.
“He’s an all-around player, that’s the first thing,” said Lown, adding that Stallings is one of many Bulldogs who play both offense and defense without specializing at one just one position.
“He epitomizes that by blocking well, catching the ball, running and playing defense,” Lown added. “He epitomizes what a Silver Bluff football player is.”
AT A GLANCE
Aiken Standard Player of the Week winners
• Week Zero: Trib Reece, QB, North Augusta
• Week One: Jaquan Williams, RB, Fox Creek
• Week Two: Travious Wigfall, RB/LB, Ridge Spring-Monetta
• Week Three: RJ Stallings, RB/DB, Silver Bluff