One week after trying to play their way out of the contest, Bluffton’s Tyrese Sandgren and Tyler Lindo are among five area football players set to bring their high school careers to a close Saturday when they suit up for the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl in Myrtle Beach.
Beaufort also landed two players on the South roster for the 70th annual classic, still better known as the North/South All-Star game, with its 1-2 rushing combination of Omar Cummings and Wyatt Sherpensky. Whale Branch defensive lineman Chris Wilson rounds out the quintet.
“It’s always an honor to be selected,” said Lindo, one of two South players listed on the roster at defensive end, though Wilson and four others are classified as defensive linemen.
This year, though, playing in the game always was the second option. In a scheduling quirk created by Hurricane Matthew’s two-week hiatus, the North/South showcase falls on the same weekend as the state semifinals.
Lindo and Sandgren would have preferred to stay at home, getting ready for a Class 3A Lower State final against No.1 Dillon, but Brookland-Cayce scuttled those plans with last week’s 14-7 victory on the Bobcats’ home turf.
Within 48 hours, the Bluffton duo was on its way to Myrtle Beach for two-a-day workouts with the rest of the 44-man South roster.
Sandgren’s 600 receiving yards and six touchdowns were second among the Bobcats this season, trailing only Ashby Cribb. Lindo tallied seven sacks and 17 tackles for loss from his defensive spot, also rushing for a TD in the Bobcats’ “Meat Wagon” backfield.
Cummings and Sherpensky gave Beaufort a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, with Cummings finishing with 1,270 yards and 16 TDs while Sherpensky had 1,114 yards and 20 TDs. Sherpensky also scored five touchdowns among his 20 receptions, and added four more scores via returns.
“One good thing that helped those two kids is they can do so much,” said Eagles coach Mark Clifford, who also will serve as a South assistant to Irmo’s Reggie Kennedy. “Omar is mainly a running back, but he’s also slotted to help on defense. Wyatt can get out in the slot (as a receiver); he got selected as an athlete.”
Wilson has been an effective run-stopper from any spot along Whale Branch’s defensive line. He also blocked a punt against Beaufort.
In addition to the on-field workouts, the week also includes allows players to get together for evening activities. On Thursday, escorted area youths through the Myrtle Beach Target location, shopping for clothes, toys and other items.
“That was one of the best things I have done in a while,” Cummings told The Sun-News. “Helping kids, seeing their faces and their smiles as they shopped, it’s one of the best things in the world. It was extremely neat.”
Beaufort also has one other set of representatives at Saturday’s game — its chain crew, a veteran group that previously has been recognized as the state’s best by the S.C. High School League.
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl
When: 12:30 p.m.
Where: Doug Shaw Stadium at Myrtle Beach High School
Area players: Omar Cummings (Beaufort), Tyler Lindo (Bluffton), Tyrese Sandgren (Bluffton), Wyatt Sherpensky (Beaufort), Chris Wilson (Whale Branch).