Bishop England will have to clean up its act in order to win a third straight state championship.
Meanwhile, West Ashley already has won as many football games as it did all of last season.
Those were the truths revealed in Friday night’s season opener at West Ashley High School, as quarterback Pedro Manigault rushed for 135 yards to lead the Wildcats to a 28-6 victory.
Cameron Byas ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns for the Class AAAA Wildcats, who were just 1-10 last year, including a 34-10 loss to Bishop England.
“This is a different group from last year,” said West Ashley coach Bobby Marion. “When we walked off that field last year, we said, ‘1-10, never again.’ And we started getting ready for Bishop England, because we’ve got so much respect for them.”
The Bishops went on from that win over West Ashley last year to take their second straight Division II-AA state title. But coach John Cantey’s club will be hard-pressed to three-peat with performances like Friday’s, when the Bishops turned the ball over five times on four fumbles and an interception.
Almost all of the Bishops’ offense came on four plays – passes of 36 and 30 yards to Lawton Fosberry, a 29-yard throw to Nick Shiver, and Shiver’s 35-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t punch it in when we needed to a couple of times, and that was a morale killer,” said Cantey, who lost 20 seniors from last year’s 13-1 squad. “We’re not in very good shape right now. We’ve got some young kids in there, and we’ve got to teach them up better than we have right now.”
West Ashley ate up most of the first quarter with an 18-play, 58-yard drive for a touchdown, capped by a 1-yard run by Cameron Byas on fourth down. Manigault made the big plays on third down, including a 10-yard run on third-and-9.
Manigault turned in the play of the night on the Wildcats’ next drive. His pass was deflected by the Bishops’ Reed Fosberry, but Manigault picked the ball out of the air and rambled for 14 yards. Byas scored from two yards out to cap a 7-play, 64-yard drive for a 14-0 lead.
The Bishops had two chances to score late in the first half. But quarterback Jack Wilson’s pass was picked off in the end zone by Tyreek Campbell, and Wilson was sacked and lost a fumble near midfield on BE’s next possession.
Reed Fosberry scooped up a Manigault fumble and dashed to the Wildcats’ 10-yard line early in the third quarter. But the Bishops lost a fumble on the next play, spoiling another chance to score.
West Ashley cashed in on another BE mistake after the Wildcats pinned the Bishops at their own 2-yard line with a punt. Anthony Lacosta recovered a Wilson fumble in the end zone for a 21-0 lead in the third quarter.
Bishop England 0 0 0 6— 6
West Ashley 7 7 7 7 — 28
West Ashley – Cameron Byas 1 run (Caroline Cashion kick)
West Ashley – Byas 2 run (Cashion kick)
West Ashley – Anthony Lacosta fumble recovery in end zone (Cashion kick)
Bishop England – Nick Shiver 35 run (kick failed)
West Ashley – Marquize Jenkins 2 run (Cashion kick)