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In close quarters, Stallions remain calm


South Columbus Stallions Pharaoh KcKever (9) eludes West Brunswick's Nasir Murray in the first half at West Brunswick High School Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. (Photo by Photo by Mike Spencer)


The South Columbus High School football team has a ton of playoff experience, and the Stallions have showed it so far this postseason, grinding out three close wins in the first three rounds.

 

On Friday, that playoff experience will be tested against a team that might have even more.

The Stallions head north to face Tarboro in the Class 2A state semifinals, a rematch from last year in the same round. Tarboro is undefeated and the two-time defending state champion. The Vikings have won their last 21 games.

"We've got to play our best football game," South Columbus coach Jake Fonvielle said. "I'm talking about our best football game of our year."

One thing going in South Columbus' favor: the Stallions have been able to find ways to win, especially in the postseason.

In its final regular-season game, South Columbus (12-2) outlasted West Brunswick to take the No. 2 playoff seed from the Waccamaw Conference. In its first two playoff games, South Columbus quickly built a big lead and held on for the win. 

And last week against East Bladen, South Columbus fell behind early before rallying in the second half to win.

That game gave Fonvielle confidence that his team can handle adverse situations.

"We challenged them at halftime and told them to pick their heads up and go play football," Fonvielle said. "They responded to i,t and it shows me that, even though we're pretty young on defense and around the board, they're growing up."

The Stallions do have experience at Tarboro: they came up short 13-10 last year. And while Fonvielle's team is young in places, many of the Stallions' key players remember that game, including running backs Reggie Frink and Dashaun Daniels and quarterback Pharoah McKever.

Tarboro doesn't have the star power it had last year; nationally recruited running back Todd Gurley is now at the University of Georgia. But the Vikings still have plenty of power and good history.

This is the third year in a row Tarboro has played a Waccamaw Conference team in the state semifinals: the Vikings beat East Bladen 33-6 in 2010. 

This season, the Vikings have been rolling through opponents and averaging 41.9 points per game.

"I think they're better offensively this year," Fonvielle said. "Offensively they put a lot of numbers up. I'm hoping that our offense can keep them off the field."

In other words, Fonvielle hopes to do a little more grinding. His team is now 7-0 this season in games decided by 14 points or less. He sees no reason why they can't figure it out again.

"At some point they've got to be knocked off and why not us?" Fonvielle said. "We preach to our kids that streaks are made to be broken." 

 

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