• By David Shelton Special to The Post and Courier    November 16, 2017
    Maturity and focus land First Baptist back in title game            

    First Baptist senior linebacker Timmy Campbell and the Hurricanes will play for a SCISA state title. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

    It comes as no surprise that the First Baptist Hurricanes have landed back in the SCISA Class AA state championship game this fall.

    The defending state champions returned a bevy of talent from the team of 2016 and entered the season as the top-ranked team in AA. The Hurricanes seek a repeat on Saturday, taking on Trinity-Byrnes at 3:30 p.m. at Benedict College’s Charles C. Johnson stadium.

    Hurricanes head coach Johnny Waters has marveled at how his team has approached this season.

    “This group is different than any team I’ve been a part of,” Waters said. “Their focus and intensity level is amazing. They show up every single day to work and they have showed up ready to play every Friday night. I told them the one thing I am most proud of so far is they have not had a letdown. They have a mature approach to every game.

    “It’s funny, in a way. I’m not sure these guys really understand what they have accomplished these last two years. They don’t look at the scores or the wins. They just want to play football. I could call a practice for Monday after the state championship game and they would all show up. It’s the most coachable team I’ve ever been around.”

    First Baptist has done it both offensively and defensively. While averaging 53 points per game offensively, the Hurricanes allow less than a touchdown per game on the season and have posted six shutouts.

    “Sometimes, because of the points the offense scores, the defense can get overlooked,” Waters said. “We, the coaches, don’t overlook what they do. They’ve been tremendous all season. Regardless of the opponent or the offense they run up against, those guys have been dominant all season.”

    The leaders defensively all season have been senior linebacker Timmy Campbell and junior linebacker Jackson Watson, both with more than 100 total tackles on the season. Senior end Mark White has 18 tackles for loss and junior end Xavion Washington has 10 tackles for loss.

    In Trinity-Byrnes, the Hurricanes face a double-wing rushing attack that averages better than 300 yards per game. Two backs, Javontay Robinson and Shamar Byrd, have gained more than 1,200 yards each and have combined for 44 touchdowns.

    Junior running back Michel Dukes anchors the offense. Dukes, who continues to land power 5 scholarship offers, has rushed for 2,007 yards with 27 touchdowns.

    Junior quarterback Tremez Brown, a first-year starter, has passed for more than 2,172 yards. Junior Tylan Major leads a deep receiving corps with 37 catches for 870 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    Placekicker Justin Johnson has been a weapon as well, converting five field goal opportunities and making 66 of 70 extra point kicks.

    The Hurricanes beat the Titans in the state semi-final round last season. The Titans are making their first-ever state championship game appearance.

    “They’re probably the most athletic team, with more team speed, than any team we’ve faced this season,” Waters said. “They are physical up front and they pound the football on you. We have to slow them down. It would be ideal if we could get up a few scores early, maybe take them out of what they want to do. I expect it will be a really good battle. We’re excited and I am sure they’re excited.”