HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS - Pelion seniors are a major catalyst to region title
When reflecting on Pelion’s run to its 1st region title in 14 years, head coach Dann Holland points specifically to 1 area.
For the Panthers, it was all about senior leadership.
From taking it upon themselves to keep the team focused through a 2-week quarantine to self-organizing off-field workouts, Holland said their contributions were very valuable toward his team’s success.
“The leadership is unquestioned,” said Freeman during Sunday’s practice, 1 heavily encouraged by the seniors. “They are the true leaders of the team - on and off and in the building during the daytime with the academics. They do a fantastic job and they lead vocally and they lead by example. So you would expect that out of your 2 best players and I commend them all day long and twice on Sunday for doing a good job of it.”
Those 2 players - tight end Deshontez Gray and lineman Will Jeffcoat - are future college Saturday players. While Gray is deciding between Army and Wofford, Jeffcoat has already verbally committed to the Black Knights of West Point.
Through all the travails and uncertainty of this season, the duo remained confident of their prospects for a Region 5-2A championship. The early win over defending Class 2A Lower State champion Barnwell provided confidence which carried over into the season-ending win over Wade Hampton to clinch the title.
“It was a big moment for us because they were 1st in the region,” Gray said. “We were coming off a 2-week break. We went in there with a positive attitude and ended up coming out on top. Defense played excellent that game.”
That defensive effort carried over into the Wade Hampton game. The Panthers allowed 1 score in the 12-6 victory to earn the top seed and 1st round home game Friday against Phillip Simmons. It's the 1st ever meeting between Pelion and the Berkeley County school which opened in 2017.
“I think this shows how hard we’ve worked the past 4 years,” Jeffcoat said. “Everybody can see that Pelion can do it. We’ve been working as hard as anybody else.”
Gray and Jeffcoat were not the only seniors Freeman isolated for praise.
“Jacob Osmanski has had a heck of a year at quarterback and (defensive back) for us,” he said. “He’s like another running back back there. He’s a great athlete. Defensively, 1 of the unsung heroes is John Long at middle linebacker. He’s got a ton of tackles. He’s been a little bit banged up this year and he’s kind of soldiered through it. Michael Fields has come on very well in the 2nd half of the year at linebacker. It’s been a group effort.”