Cougars finish summer passing league with solid outing in Showdown | Sports | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 19, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: July 19, 2017 at 1:25 pm
By CINDY CROSBY
Colleton County Cougar Football had a busy week, competing in two 7-on-7 passing league tournaments. Approximately 30 players traveled to South Carolina State University in Orangeburg on July 12, then headed upstate the following day to participate in the Palmetto State Showdown, a two-day tournament held at Byrnes High School.
The Cougars went 5-2 at South Carolina State and finished fourth out of 24 teams. They lost in the semi-finals by four points to Orangeburg Wilkinson. They had wins over Scott’s Branch, Swansea High School, Josey High School (Georgia), Estill High School and South Aiken. Their only other loss in the event was against Calhoun County.
Quarterback Craig Grant had 18 TD’s with no interceptions. “I was very pleased with the way we competed at South Carolina State,” said Coach Coby Peeler following Wednesday’s event. “I am proud of our kids. After starting out slow Wednesday afternoon, we showed a lot of initiative and kept working hard.”
Offensive coordinator Chris Lewis also said he saw tremendous improvement from the Cougars’ last outing. “Our kids are gaining confidence and belief in their capabilities,” he said. “Grant had a solid outing and De’iajae Ferguson is becoming a top-notch playmaker — scoring several touchdowns. Tristin Nieves, Chris Murray, Jeremiah Mosley and Trakell Murray had good tournaments as well.”
In the Palmetto State Showdown, the Cougars finished eighth out of 14 teams participating in the tournament and made it to the quarter finals of the playoff bracket. They went 6-6 on the day, picking up wins over Hillcrest (44-2), Oceanside (42-20), JL Mann (26-17), Northwest Caburras (23-18) and Walker (26-16) and recorded losses against Myrtle Beach (34-25), Eastside (34-29), Greer (33-9), Thomson (51-15) and Chester (42-15). During the playoffs of the Showdown, Colleton County recorded a win over Mauldin (22-20) before being eliminated by Byrnes High School in a 49-29 loss.
According to Lewis, the upstate tournament provided the best competition of the summer for the Cougars. “We are very pleased with our progress,” he said. “We seem to get better each time out. This tournament was a good measuring stick for our guys. I am excited about what we can accomplish this season after seeing how we stacked up, especially considering we had far less prep time than these teams. We had only 15 practices or competitions leading up to this tournament, while teams such as Byrnes have been practicing since January.”
As the summer passing leagues concluded, Lewis is comfortable with what he has seen so far from his offense. “X’s and O’s, I feel we have depth at receiver,” he said. “Ferguson has shown he can take over and be a go-to guy and Nieves shows great burst off the line. We have to continue to push for consistency at wideout.”
“Craig Grant has shown a great feel for a lot of our concepts; he finished the summer with only three interceptions,” Lewis said. “That gives me a lot of confidence in him and his command heading into the season — we are also starting to be on the same wavelength as far as what is open and isn’t. These tournaments were great opportunities for us to compete, but at the end of the day, I am ready to run the ball at the one-yard line instead of having to throw it.”
The bottom line, according to the Cougar’s new offensive coordinator, is to continue the trend of improvement. “The players are buying in to becoming great men on and off the field and doing the right thing,” said Lewis. “Many people involved in the tournament approached me, personally complementing our kids, so I know we are making strides. The team is understanding by doing the little things right, success will eventually follow. We’re focusing on positivity, edifying others and believing in our abilities right now.”
The Cougar’s head coach’s thoughts mirrored his coordinator’s on the overall performance in the upstate event — and on being ready for the first day of pads. “We continue to grow and improve,” said Peeler. “I thought we really showed some physical and mental toughness against some really good teams and in stifling heat. The defense is beginning to gel a little bit and offensively, we continue to find more options. One guy goes down or doesn’t have a great game, and someone else steps up. I’m ready to see them get the pads on and play real football.”
The Cougars will hold the first official day of fall practice on Friday, July 28 and will scrimmage Stratford (away) Aug. 4 at 10 a.m., Carolina Forest (away) Aug. 9 at 6 p.m., Wando (away) Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. A “Meet the Cougars” night is planned for Aug. 17 introducing all fall sports.