Lake View defeated Lamar on Friday night, 31-14, to capture the state football title. Here are a handful of pictures by Johnnie Daniels/The Dillon Herald.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNIE DANIELS/THE DILLON HERALD AND CRAIG BROWN
By Craig Brown
The weather was cold, cold, cold Friday night in Columbia, but the Wild Gators were hot, hot, hot as they blasted the Lamar High School Silver Foxes, 31-14.
The game was not this close, but as Head Coach Daryl King explained to me earlier in the season they allow every team that we play 14 points. The end zones at Benedict College Tiger Stadium face north to south and on a cold night the wind blows through the north end zone to make the conditions bitter. Everyone wearing Lake View blue thought the weather was just fine though.
Many fans around the state had Lamar picked to win by seven points or better, but we in Dillon County knew better. The Wild Gators jumped on the Silver Foxes and turned them every which way but loose.
The road to the championship started in the summer on the hot practice fields. The Wild Gators are famous for taking the season one game at a time. When they were 1-0 they were looking to go 2-0. It should be noted that the Wild Gators traveled to Dillon several times to scrimmage the Dillon Christian School Warriors. Both teams finished the season undefeated and state champions in their divisions. Maybe they should make this an annual part of summer practice.
The Wild Gators have an outstanding coaching staff but they will be the first to admit that half of their battle was won because of the great attitude that this year’s team had. The Wild Gators were laying some hard licks on the Silver Foxes in the first quarter but they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and the first quarter ended with the score 0-0. On the Wild Gators first possession of the second quarter, running back Tyshawn McDaniel decided enough was enough as he broke several tackles on his way to a 58 yard touchdown run. Jesus Montero added the point after kick to put the Wild Gators up 7-0 with 9:42 left in the second quarter. The hard licks continued throughout the quarter with both sides battling with all they had. With 2:22 left in the first half, Gator quarterback Duane Nichols found wide receiver Albert Wheeler open and hit him with a 40 yard touchdown strike. The point after failed but Lake View was ahead 13-0 and would take this lead into the halftime break. The fate of the Silver Foxes was sealed when McDaniel broke free of several would be tacklers on his way to a 43 yard touchdown run with 8:44 left in the third quarter. The conversion failed but the fire seamed to leave Lamar as the Wild Gators now led 19-0. Late in the third quarter the Gators forced Lamar to punt. The kick landed into the hot hands of McDaniel who’s legs were even hotter as he took the kick and raced 55 yards to the goal line for the touchdown. The conversion failed holding the Wild Gator lead to 25-0 with 1:52 left in the third quarter with the quarter ending with this score. Midway in the fourth quarter Lamar finished a short drive with running back Jeblonski Green crossing the goal line from three yards out. Andy Tedder added the point after kick to close the Wild Gator lead to 25-7 with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter. The Wild Gators responded with a drive that ended with Delvon Bethea taking it across the goal line from ten yards out. The conversion failed but the Gators lead was now 31-7 with 1:59 left in the game. The Wild Gators almost forgot to give up their 14 points but with 30 seconds left in the game the Wild Gator defense eased up to let Lamar quarterback, Rashad Coleman complete a three yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Randall woods. Tedder added the final point of the game with Lake View getting the hard earned 31-14 win. On offense for the Wild Gators, Tyshawn McDaniel had 200 yards rushing on ten carries with two touchdowns, returned a kick 55 yards for a touchdown and caught a pass for 15 yards, Duane Nichols was 4 of 6 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown adding 15 yards rushing on six carries, Albert Wheeler caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, Randall Washington had 43 yards on 11 carries, De’Ante Bridgett had 25 yards on six carries, Delvon Bethea had a ten yard touchdown run and Darious Ford had positive yardage rushing. On defense, Shawn Williams had eight tackles with seven assists, Stone Spivey had seven tackles with five assists with a quarterback sack, Brandon Acevedo had six tackles with four assists with a quarterback sack, Xavier Johnson had five tackles with five assists, a quarterback sack, an interception and a blocked kick, Tyler Davis had five tackles with three assists and a quarterback sack, Tyshawn McDaniel had five tackles with an assists, Albert Wheeler had four tackles with two assists, Datron Jones had three tackles with five assists and a quarterback sack, James Inman had three tackles with two assists, William Hayes had two tackles with five assists, Delvon Bethea had two tackles with four assists and knocked a pass out of a receivers hands and Tieray Blue added a tackle with an assist. The 2016 Wild Gator team was truly remarkable. How will they be compared to the great teams of Lake View. Some are fans of the 1961 team others say the 1981 team coached by Bill Pate was the best while others talk about the 1997 team coached by Jewell McLaurin that went 15-0 and I can remember some old timers that swore by the 1933 and 1934 undefeated teams. Over the years Lake View has had many great teams, seventeen lower state championships and ten state championships say it all. Stating that the 2016 team did not play Dillon would not be a fair comparison because since 1997 Dillon has become a state and national powerhouse and has been referred to by the coaches of Loris High as the University of Dillon and no team in the Pee Dee has been able to defeat them and not likely any teams from Lake View’s past could either. The spread and west coast type offenses that are used today are almost impossible to shut out. The fact that the 2016 Wild Gator team outscored their opponents by a three to one margin makes a statement. The offensive line was awesome this year. The only way for any team in this era to go 14-0 is for them to be perfectly balanced at all positions and for this reason I give the nod to this year’s team as the best ever. Head Coach Daryl King stated that the success of this team was due to his great coaching staff and the outstanding players that made up the team. He gave a special nod to Mostiler Rogers that never fails in his duty as team manager and Statistician Jimmy Sweat. Coach Johnny Dew added that he was extremely proud of this team and the coaching staff. Whether you agree with my opinion of this team or not no-one can deny that the 2016 Wild Gators was very talented and well coached. The football fans of Dillon County salute them.