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Defense delivers as South squad rolls to high school all-star football game victory

Walt Wilson wanted his South squad to play with a little edge in Saturday’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl.

His players got the message and turned in a dominating performance as the South defeated the North, 28-8, in the 76th annual high school all-star game at Doug Shaw Stadium.

It was South’s fourth win in the past five games after the North went on a dominating stretch before that.

“I tell the kids, it is like we can’t play ball down here. You know everyone is writing about the Upstate (part of South Carolina) but we can play a little ball down here,” said Wilson, the head coach at Richland Northeast. “We came out with a chip on our shoulder, I’m just going to be honest with you. I think you can see that.”

South team members played with a chip even though it resulted in some penalties, especially late in the game. Benches almost cleared in the fourth quarter between the two teams but things settled down.

Chippiness aside, Wilson also made sure his players had fun during all-star week and made them all head to the end zone to celebrate after every South touchdown, even though that usually results in a flag during the season. The celebration was only called once during Saturday’s contest.

“In the regular season, you wouldn’t do none of that, but I told them, go out there,” Wilson said.

The Hartsville duo of quarterback McKendrie Douglas and running back Carmello McDaniel had big games for the South squad. McDaniel threw a TD pass and ran for a score. McDaniel rushed for 82 yards, including a 64-yard TD run in the first quarter to put the South up 7-6 .

McDaniel was named the South offensive MVP and Irmo’s Isaiah McClary was the defensive MVP after picking off two passes in the first half on consecutive possessions.

“I was really excited coming into this week. I was around a lot of great guys,” said McClary, who will graduate this week and plans to walk on at South Carolina “This season was great for Irmo, I had a great year. I was just glad I could come out and do what I do best.”

South’s defense held the North 138 yards of total offense, including just 34 yards in the second half.

McClary was one of several Midlands players with big days on defense. Lexington’s Christian Sexton led the South with six tackles. Richland Northeast’s Myles Pratt had an interception. Dreher’s Charles Jeffcoat and Dutch Fork’s Dakota Jordan teamed up for a score in the second half.

Jeffcoat stripped North quarterback Coleman Gray and Jordan scooped it up and ran it 26 yards for a touchdown to put the South up 28-8 early in the fourth quarter.

“I got a good rip through the offensive line and saw the quarterback and I slung him around then the ball came loose,” Jeffcoat said. “This is the best defense I have ever been around. Everybody got after it today.”

JL Mann’s Jacariu Bennett (defense) and Mikel McClellan (offense) earned MVP honors for the North squad. McClellan caught a 26-yard TD pass from South Pointe’s Malachi Marshall to put North up 7-0 with 9:24 left in the first quarter.