Aynor High has eyes set on mak­ing deep run in state foot­ball play­offs

The Sun News - - Front Page - BY T.J. LUNDEEN

For longer than he cares to ad­mit, Ja­son Allen has been pre­par­ing for Fri­day night.

The first-year Aynor foot­ball coach will lead the Blue Jack­ets (7-1, 4-1 Re­gion 6-3A) into the play­offs as Bat­tery Creek comes to town.

Allen was an as­sis­tant with the Blue Jack­ets from 2003-17 be­fore tak­ing over the pro­gram when 13-year head coach Jody Jenerette left.

The Dol­phins (2-8, 2-2 Re­gion 7-3A) en­ter the play­offs as a No. 3 seed, hav­ing won two of their last four games. While their record doesn’t show it, Allen and his coach­ing staff are pre­par­ing for a strong team to make its way from Beau­fort.

“They’re very ath­letic and re­ally big up front on of­fense and de­fense,” Allen said of Bat­tery Creek. “They’re go­ing to present a big chal­lenge for us. It’s the same thing that we saw in re­gion play, there is un­be­liev­able tal­ent all across this state. They’re much bet­ter than their record shows.”

While Aynor didn’t ac­com­plish one of its team goals to win a re­gion cham­pi­onship, fin­ish­ing sec­ond to unan­i­mous Class 3A No. 1 Dil­lon, the Blue Jack­ets still have their main goal ahead of them – mak­ing a deep play­off run.

“We’re so ex­cited to have a home play­off game as a re­ward for what these play­ers have done this sea­son,” Allen said. “I told these guys all sea­son to dream big and we’re on the doorstep of our dreams right now. Our com­mu­nity and stu­dents are ex­cited for this game and we are pre­par­ing to put our best ef­fort on the field for them.”

All sea­son, the Blue Jack­ets have been led by a strong op­tion run­ning game and solid de­fense – the clas­sic recipe for play­off suc­cess.

“Most teams we face know what we’re plan­ning to do on of­fense. We can ei­ther run it or we can’t,” Allen said. “We want to have some bal­ance, not just in play call­ing but in how we op­er­ate as a team. The most im­por­tant thing is to be dis­ci­plined in our ex­e­cu­tion and play call­ing, but we may throw in a new wrin­kle or two to show our op­po­nents a dif­fer­ent look.”

Look­ing at Bat­tery Creek, Allen is wary of the Dol­phins’ size, speed and ex­plo­sive abil­ity.

In par­tic­u­lar, of­fen­sive weapon Gabe Sin­gle­ton, who will see snaps at quar­ter­back, and DeNarol Brown, the top wide­out on the team. The Dol­phins also boast a large of­fen­sive line, which al­lows the smaller backs to hide for a sec­ond longer.

“We ex­pect them to come out and try to pound the ball a lit­tle bit,” Allen said. “The chal­lenge for our de­fense is if we can rally to the ball and make tack­les. We can’t let them get any mo­men­tum, that’s when they’re the most dan­ger­ous.”

As the Blue Jack­ets learned last week, any team can hang around if they’re given mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties. In the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale, a twowin Cheraw team bat­tled Aynor to a 48-43 fi­nal, and the Blue Jack­ets had to come from be­hind to win.

“Aynor is not in a po­si­tion to over­look any­body,” Allen said. “Right now, we are build­ing a day at a time and try­ing to win each day. So, on Mon­day, we worry about Mon­day. If we can get bet­ter each day, then on Fri­day we’ll have a chance to win a game. We can only con­trol our mind­set and ef­fort.”

JOSH BELL jbell@the­sun­news.com

Aynor and se­nior quar­ter­back Spencer Sarvis (12) host Bat­tery Creek on Fri­day in the first round of the play­offfs.

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