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CPA comes up short in Championship Game

Colleton Prep’s varsity football team comes together around the runner-up trophy after their lose to Williamsburg Academy in the SCISA Class 1A championship game. Photos by Jim Killian/ Jim Killian Photography

In a year that prognosticators didn’t give Colleton Prep’s varsity football team much of a chance at a successful season, the team proved them wrong. But who could blame the dark outlook, CPA had only 17 players;had a first year volunteer head coach; didn’t have an obvious replacement in the backfield for the bruising running style that has been their trademark in recent years; had only two players that weighed more than 200 lbs……; the reasons the team shouldn’t succeed were numerous. It’s obvious the team and coaching staff didn’t pay attention to what people were saying.

Going into Saturday’s SCISA 1A state championship game with a regular season record of 6-6, CPA was, by most accounts, a four-touchdown underdog. Yes, the regular season record is much less impressive than their opponents from Williamsburg Academy’s 10-2 record. The Warhawks’ regular season record deserves a closer look. It would be hard to argue that the CPA regular season schedule was not one of the toughest SCISA 1A schedules. Five of the six loses were to 2A teams. CPA had a chance to win two of those games against bigger schools, and was competitive in all. The most impressive accomplishment from the regular season could be the ability to play such a tough schedule, with a limited number of players, and come through without any serious injuries. There was a lot of tape on joints and body parts, but they played on. So Saturday’s game was much like the regular season, and the determined Warhawks showed up at Benedict College’s Charles W. Johnson Stadium, in Columbia, intending to bring back the second championship trophy in the last three years. The effort could not have started better.

On the opening kickoff from Williamsburg Academy, CPA’s Nick Padgett caught the ball on CPA’s 25 yard line. Padgett raced across the field to his left, sped through a hole in Williamsburg’s special team coverage with blockers in front, and, 75 yards later, he was in the Stallion’s end zone for a touchdown. Fifteen seconds into the championship game CPA was on the board, 7-0, with the extra point good. The Stallions had run rough shod over region opponents during the regular season and earned an appearance in the championship game, and they showed why on their first possession. When it would have been easy to be shocked by the quick CPA score, the Stallions marched down the field and answered CPA’s score with one of their own; but, the point after failed, and CPA led 7-6. Defense on both sides took over then, and it was tough for either team to put points on the board. CPA drove inside Williamsburg’s 20 yard line three times in the first half, but came away without any points. The Stallion’s would score one more time in the first half to take a 12-7 lead at the half.

Williamsburg would score first in the third period to go up 20-7 with a successful two point conversion, and CPA’s destiny seemed sealed. However, like the Warhawks have proved all season, the word “quit” was not in their vocabulary. With 7:51 left in the fourth period, CPA cut the Stallion’s lead to one touchdown, had 20-13. The Stallions answered again with a drive inside CPA’s 5 yard line. A fumbled hand off by the Stallions put the ball on the ground, and it was recovered by the Warhawks. CPA took over 96 yards away from a touchdown, that could have pulled them even. An all-out blitz by the Stallions resulted in a fumble in the CPA backfield, and Williamsburg recovered the fumble on the Warhawks’ 2 yard line. The Stallions would score and take a 26-13 lead with less than 4 minutes left in the game. Williamsburg sealed the win with an interception, with less than a minute left, to notch their first state championship.

Therefore, CPA didn’t win another state championship. A single play in the championship game with a different outcome could have made the difference. A team that wasn’t even to make the playoffs had given the highly-favored team all they could handle. The Warhawks 2012 team may be remembered in history as the SCISA 1A runner-ups, but to those that followed them through the season, they will be remembered for their tenacity, effort, desire and intensity. In a televised interview after the game, you could hear a slight crack in head coach Ryan Bishop’s voice as he talked about how proud he was of his staff and, most of all, the players. History may remember the 2012 Wahrhawks differently, but we will remember them as winners!

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