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Rivalry game has explosive potential

  • Friday, November 1, 2013

Roger Lee/Journal Scene Jacerie Ponder enters this week's rivalry game as the leading Green Wave rusher.

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A pair of teams with big-play capability will face off at Memorial Stadium Friday.

Summerville (7-2, 3-0) hosts Ashley Ridge (4-5, 2-1) at 7:30 p.m. for a key Region 8-AAAA matchup. With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Swamp Foxes must win in order to have a shot at a region championship. The Green Wave can clinch at least a share of the region title if it prevails.

With one exception, scoring points hasn’t been a big problem for Ashley Ridge this year. West Ashley is the only team to hold Ashley Ridge to under 20 points. The Swamp Foxes have averaged 32.3 points per game over the last three weeks.

However, the Ashley Ridge defense has yielded an average of 29 points per game during that period.

“Ashley Ridge can move the football against anyone,” Summerville coach John McKissick said. “They have several guys who can run the football and are always a threat to break a big play so we will have to shut them down. They are coming off a win over a good Beaufort team so it won’t be easy for us.”

Summerville also has a potent offense. Goose Creek and Beaufort are the only teams to hold Summerville under 20 points this season. The Green Wave has averaged 32.3 points per game over the last three weeks and yielded only 9.3 points.

The Summerville defense has proven itself to be one of the best in the area. The Green Wave has made 10 interceptions this year and recovered 11 fumbles.

“We can’t turn the ball over,” Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker said. “Summerville’s defense has created a lot of turnovers this year. They scored on several of those turnovers and many of the others put their offense in great field position. We also must score touchdowns when we get in the red zone. You are not going to beat Summerville kicking field goals all night.”

The Swamp Foxes have grown stronger as the season progressed. Tyler Garland has emerged as a strong tailback who often serves as the workhorse for the team.

Ashley Ridge has several other players who are dangerous offensive weapons.

Senior Donavan Thompson leads a group of talented receivers and is a big threat on special teams. He has returned two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns this year and had a 95-yard return that didn’t quite make it to the end zone.

The Swamp Foxes also find as many ways as they can to get the ball into the hands of senior Sean White and juniors Dashaun Santiago and Matt Linton. Last week, they combined for nearly 150 receiving yards.

The Green Wave had a lot of success airing the ball out early in the season but once region play arrived showed it can also run the ball well.

“Defensively we have to stop their run game first,” Walker said. “They have a great offensive line and very good running backs. But Sawyer Bridges is a very accurate quarterback. We can’t give up the big play. We need to keep everything in front of us and hope that we can try and get some pressure on him.”

Senior Jacerie Ponder is the leader for a group of talented Green Wave running backs. He has 783 rushing yards and nine TDs this season.

Ponder was injured last week, but is expected to play against Ashley Ridge. Even if he doesn’t, Summerville has good depth at his position. Last week seven other Green Wave running backs combined for 223 rushing yards and six TDs.

Summerville receiver Johnston McCurry and tight end Sean Smith both have more than 300 receiving yards this season. Combined, they have five of the Wave’s 11 TD receptions. William Luck and Donnell Bryan both have more than 200 receiving yards this season.

Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or rlee@journalscene.com.

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