COLUMBIA—The Bishop England football team hopes 13 is its lucky number – again.
The Bishops play Abbeville at 8:30 p.m. today at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium, and a victory would give the Bishops a 13-1 record and a Division II-AA state championship for the second year in a row.
Abbeville is 11-2 entering the game and is looking for its third straight state title. The Panthers won two in a row at the Division I-A classification.
The game will be televised locally by WMMP.
Abbeville coach Jamie Nickles is impressed with Bishop England.
“This football team we are playing, they are the real deal,” Nickles told reporters earlier this week. “They are extremely well-coached. You can tell on film they are outstanding young men. They do everything the right way and they are a pleasure to watch.”
Coach John Cantey had to come up with seven new starters on defense, and after a shaky start, the Bishops defense has become rock solid. They allowed 101 points in the first six games of the season and have surrendered just 73 in the last seven games.
Both the Panthers and Bishop England rely heavily on the running game. Abbeville has rushed for 4,091 yards while the Bishops have 3,584 yards.
O’Bryan Wilson leads the Panthers in rushing with 1,158 yards and 14 touchdowns, and teammate C.J. Martin has gained 881 yards with 10 touchdowns. Mike Bolden has chipped in with 487 yards and six scores.
Quarterback Kelly Bryant has rushed for 588 yards and six touchdowns, despite missing four games with an injury.
Stephenson leads the Bishops with 1,217 yards and 22 touchdowns, and Griffie Loy has 616 yards and 11 TDs. Nick Theos has added 315 yards on the ground, and Nick Shiver has 238.
Quarterback Kevin Herbst has 720 yards rushing and 756 passing.
Tonight marks the final game for 20 Bishop England players. They include Nick Theos, DeAngelo Stephenson, Kevin Herbst, Ryan Rogers, Drew Costa, K.B. Blanchard, Weston Marvin, Griffie Loy, Nick Tezza, Jamie Garrett, Jacob Vecchiolla, Forrest Bowers, Mason Lewis, Malcolm Nazon, Zach Richter, Ryan Phillips, Adam Dobbins, Parkwood Griffith, Jamie Lopez-White and Patrick Clarey.