RS-M Leaphart

Ridge Spring-Monetta Remedee Leaphart quarterback (7) is tripped up by Green Sea Floyds cornerback Nick Clemons (34) during the Class A state championship game.


COLUMBIA — The Ridge Spring-Monetta football team knew it would have to be at its best Friday night to knock off defending state champion Green Sea Floyds.

Early miscues, a seemingly endless stream of injuries, and, yes, the defending champs, too, were way too much to overcome in the Class A title game. Green Sea Floyds stormed out to a 28-0 lead and rushed for 335 yards in a 48-12 victory to repeat as champs.

"They're a good football team, and we made a lot of mistakes in the first half – especially the first quarter," said RS-M head coach Brian Smith. "Just got behind the eight ball, didn't give ourselves much chance. And then the injuries – we had no running backs in the game. We had no punter. We had no snapper. ... We're sitting there with no punter, no snapper, no running backs, and just trying to throw the ball around and trying to survive. That's life. It stinks. It's not fun. But at the same time, that's what happens in life.

"I was disappointed we didn't play our best. We picked a bad night. But it's a great experience. We'll get up tomorrow morning and we'll come back and get to work soon for next year. I hate it for our seniors. I hated to see some of them get hurt the way they did because they carried us so far. I think we did something that hadn't been done in a long time here. I hate to lose, but it's all right. We'll be OK."

Remedee Leaphart passed for 142 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times in the first half as GSF built a 21-0 lead at the break. Collier Sullivan was RS-M's leading rusher with 65 yards on eight carries, but he missed the second half due to injury.

He wasn't the only key player to miss time. Tray Dean, the team's most dangerous defender, missed most of the second half. Dantrell Weaver, who took over at running back in the second half, was out after only five carries. Nehemiah Brooks was hurt in the second half, too – and that's still only a small sample of the injuries suffered by RS-M.

Add in the physical running game and punishing defense of GSF, and RS-M was in big trouble.

Jaquan Dixon rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, and quarterback Bubba Elliott ran for 122 yards and two more scores on 15 attempts.

Elliott put GSF on the board just over 4 minutes into the game with a 14-yard touchdown run, and Aaron Graham intercepted Leaphart and returned it 53 yards for a score just a couple minutes later. Quickly, GSF was ahead 13-0.

Dixon rushed for a 27-yard score in the second quarter for a 21-0 halftime lead, then scored from 7 yards out in the third quarter for a 28-0 edge.

Leaphart found Daniel Harris for both scores, a 5-yarder with 3:32 left in the third quarter and a 16-yarder with 9:34 left in the game. The latter cut the deficit to 34-12, but RS-M couldn't get any closer.

The silver medals weren't the color RS-M wanted, and the runner-up trophy wasn't the hardware the Trojans were hoping for, but Smith pointed out there was still a lot for them to be proud of. The team that went through spring without organized practices and didn't have a head coach until June fought its way from a No. 3 seed to an Upper State championship.

"I still haven't been on the job six months," Smith said. "It's just one of those things where we're getting there, and we're gonna try to keep playing, keep working to get better. This is where we want to be every year. It stinks right now, but it's where you want to be. For us to come back, with the seniors we're losing, we've got to come out and we've really got to work hard next year in the offseason."

RS-M's first state championship appearance since 2006 was a painful one, but Smith and the Trojans return plenty of young players that will carry state championship game experience into the offseason as they build for the future.

"It's setting the example," Smith said. "This class leaves the legacy that we made it here, and we want to come back and do it again. We've got to work harder. We didn't get it done tonight, and that stinks. But again, to get here has been a huge accomplishment for us."

Kyle Dawson covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @ItsKyleDawson.