High School Sports

BLUFFTON'S WELL-TRAVELED PATH

It took Bluffton High School three months to fill its football head coaching vacancy following the departure of Jeremy West.

Eventually, a seven-member hiring committee settled on Ken Cribb, an assistant from Fort Dorchester that had virtually no connections to Bluffton. Cribb was officially named the third head coach in school history on April 26.

Just one month later, Cribb's impact on the Bobcats was evident -- in the team's spring game on May 28, running back Desmond Jenkins called his own shot on the opening play of the afternoon and ran it 79 yards for a touchdown out of the new-look offense. The two squads combined for seven touchdowns in the scrimmage.

Little did the Bobcats realize, that was simply the beginning of something special.

In Cribb's first season, the Bobcats have put together their first winning season, won their first Region 7-AAA championship and broken the school records for single-season wins and points.

And now they are one game away from playing for a Class 3-A state title. The Bobcats (12-1) host Myrtle Beach (12-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the Lower State championship.

Let's take a look back at how they got here.

Game 1: Bluffton 39, Hilton Head High 0

Aug. 20 -- The Bobcats open the Cribb era in dominating fashion and earn their first ever win against Hilton Head High. Jenkins scores three touchdowns and totals 174 yards in a game that he says "lifts an elephant off a little kid's back."

Fullback Zachary Scott later gives the season-opening win credit for turning around the Bluffton football program.

Game 2: Bluffton 45, Ridgeland 38

Aug. 27 -- Ridgeland takes an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats -- in a sign of things to come -- own the final 12 minutes to win the game.

C.J. Johnson, filling in for the injured Jenkins, rushes for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to play. Scott rushes for 145 yards in the game.

Game 3: Bluffton 25, Hardeeville 6

Sept. 3 -- For the first time all season, the Bobcats' offense sputters, and Hardeeville keeps Bluffton off the scoreboard for the first two quarters.

It takes a defensive play to get the offense rolling. Lewis Black comes up with a key interception to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Corey Stoner midway through the third quarter, and the Bobcats finish the game by scoring 25 unanswered points.

Game 4: Bluffton 56, Estill 7

Sept. 10 -- Cribb's offense keeps on rolling in a dominate performance against Estill.

Stoner hits Eric Boyles on the opening drive for a 59-yard touchdown. Scott rushes for 150 yards and looks to be the new feature back in the offense. Boyles, Scott, Jenkins and Johnson all account for rushing scores.

Game 5: Bluffton 30, Wade Hampton 18

Sept. 17 -- Only five games into the year, Bluffton breaks the school's single-season wins record with five. The Bobcats also surpass the school's single-season points record.

They had to fight for this one. The two teams are tied at 18 at the half, but Bluffton's defense keeps Wade Hampton off the scoreboard after the break and the offense scores 12 in the fourth quarter for the win.

Johnson has his breakout game with 138 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries.

Game 6: Bluffton 27, Lake Marion 12

Oct. 1 -- Lake Marion holds Bluffton to just one play of more than 20 yards -- a Johnson 39-yard touchdown run -- but the Bobcats defense holds an opponent under 20 points for the fifth time in six games to lead the team to a win in its Region 7-AAA opener.

The defense forces four turnovers. Tony Burns intercepts a pass and recovers a fumble to halt Lake Marion drives; Anthony Smith also intercepts a pass; and B.J. Kitty recovers a fumble.

Jenkins runs back a kickoff for a 76-yard touchdown and is named the school's homecoming king at halftime.

Game 7: Bluffton 28, Cane Bay 13

Oct. 8 -- In their toughest test yet, the Bobcats come up with a huge region win that likely gives them a chance to play for the Region 7-AAA crown in two weeks.

The two teams fight to a 7-7 tie in the first half, but the Bobcats pull away thanks to a couple huge plays from the defense. Smith intercepts two passes and returns one for a critical touchdown. Travis Ramsey also picks off a pass.

Game 8: Bluffton 63, Battery Creek 14

Oct. 15 -- In just three region games, Bluffton clinches its first playoff berth since 2006.

With C.J. Frazier now under center, the Bobcats' air attack proves to be as good as ever. Frazier connects with Boyles for four touchdowns in the first half in the impressive win. Boyles shows his playmaking ability on three of the touchdown catches, using his athleticism to turn small passes into big gains.

Game 9: Berkeley 26, Bluffton 25

Oct. 22 -- In an instant classic high school football game, the Stags hand Bluffton its first loss of the season.

Following Johnson's 5-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left to play, Cribb elects to attempt a game-winning two-point conversion rather than a game-tying extra point. The Stags, last year's Class 4-A Division II state champions, stop Johnson in the backfield to secure the one-point win.

Johnson, as well as some of his teammates, refer to the loss against region-favorite Berkeley as a morale victory.

Game 10: Bluffton 37, Hilton Head High 0

Oct. 29 -- The Bobcats win the Bridge Bowl for the first time in five tries -- and get the trophy for it five days later.

Bluffton races out to a 21-point first quarter lead behind three Eric Boyles touchdowns, one on a pass from Frazier. But the magic is at Cane Bay, where the Cobras upset Berkeley, making Bluffton the Region 7-AAA champions for the first time in school history.

The championship gives Bluffton a No. 1 seed heading into the Class 3-A playoffs.

Game 11: Bluffton 24, Lakewood 21

Nov. 5 -- It doesn't come easy against fourth-seeded Lakewood, but Bluffton opens its playoff schedule with the first postseason victory in school history.

Frazier finds Marquis Webber for a pair of touchdown grabs in the first half, but Lakewood holds Bluffton in check for the second half. The Bobcats defense makes one final stand late in the game to secure the first round win.

Game 12: Bluffton 34, A.C. Flora 30

Nov. 12 -- The Bobcats continue their postseason dramatics with a four-point win in the second round against previously one-loss A.C. Flora.

A week after defenders Anthony Gardner and Black are named to the North/South team, the defense struggles to gather its footing but does so just in time and keeps A.C. Flora from mounting a last-minute comeback.

Johnson, Stoner, Frazier and Boyles all account for touchdowns to lift the Bobcats to another postseason win.

Game 13: Bluffton 40, Hartsville 35

Nov. 19 -- The miracles don't stop for the Bobcats, who answer a last-minute Hartsville score with a touchdown pass from Frazier to Boyles with 12 seconds to play for the five-point win.

In a back-and-forth classic, Bluffton prevails with scores from Boyles, Johnson and Stoner -- as well as three passing from Frazier -- to earn the Bobcats the right to host the Class 3-A Lower State title game against Myrtle Beach.

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