Cane Bay High School football coach Russell Zehr had one day to implement a Plan B when starting quarterback RJ Roderick found out he needed to be sidelined for several weeks with a back injury.
The point man in the backup plan for the home encounter with Hanahan High School on Sept. 22 was running back Kris Copeland.
The shifty 5-8, 160-pound senior did more than enough to make sure the Cobras never missed a beat or backfired with the keys to the offense in his hands.
In fact, he set a school record for rushing yards, carrying 20 times for 300 yards and five touchdowns. His rushing total broke the old record of 288 yards by Roderick against Hilton Head in 2016.
“He’s hard to tackle,” Zehr said. “To find out Thursday you’re not going to have the quarterback you’ve had the last three years, that’s kind of difficult. It changes your game plan but he did a tremendous job going from taking a couple of snaps every game or so to being out there all night.”
Copeland certainly dazzled in his debut at quarterback, scoring on runs of 57, 62, 14, 55 and 12 yards. He also threw a two-point conversion and rolled up 115 kick return yards in the 38-31 victory over the visiting Hawks.
Hanahan led 31-30 following a field goal with 6:38 left but Copeland and the Cobras needed just over a minute to take the lead for good.
On the go-ahead score, Copeland kept his balance while eluding would-be tacklers on a 12-yard run with 5:34 remaining.
Without Copeland’s heroics the shootout could have gone the other way. Hanahan running back Quincy Mitchell was dialed in too. He rushed for 258 yards and scored three touchdowns, one on a 67-yard reception.
Copeland continued to run the show for Cane Bay all the way throughout the playoffs and set another school record less than a month later, carrying 22 times for 305 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-33 victory on Oct. 20 against Beaufort.
Copeland eventually capped a stellar prep career in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl, proving to be the South’s team most potent weapon. He returned four kickoffs for 137 yards and hauled in three passes for 38 yards to earn offensive MVP honors for the South.
“He pretty much did what he had been doing for us all year," Zehr said. "I was actually surprised they didn’t try to get him the ball more. He was playing really well. It made me feel good to see that he can go out and do that against some of the best players in the state."