Sawyer Bridges knows all about the Summerville High School football tradition. After all, his father, Alan, played there and is currently an assistant coach for John McKissick. If that isn’t enough, there’s more.
“I was a ball boy back when I was in diapers,” said Bridges, a sophomore who has been the starting quarterback for two seasons. “Believe me, I know.”
Bridges knows that playing football after Thanksgiving is the barometer of the season. Get knocked out of the playoffs early and it was a good year. Play the day after Black Friday and it’s a great season.
“That’s pretty much the feeling around town,” Bridges said. “It goes around town. We heard it last year.”
Last year, the Green Wave was bumped in the first round of the playoffs, a 43-34 decision to Spartanburg that capped a 7-5 record. This season, the Green Wave is 9-2 heading into Friday’s Division I-AAAA second-round game against Boiling Springs. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at McKissick Field.
“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment to play in the second round,” Bridges said. “But we know there’s more. Hopefully, we will make a run at state.”
Bridges has completed 46 percent of his passes for 1,872 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding 272 yards and three touchdowns on the ground heading into this weekend’s game. He had to take a bigger role in the offense when running back Davon Anderson, a 1,000-yard back, moved to Cleveland for his senior season. The Green Wave has used the pass/run combo to reel off six consecutive victories.
McKissick, football’s all-time winningest coach with 612 career victories, has watched Bridges get taller and stronger since he’s been in the program. The quarterback’s attitude is wise beyond years.
“He never passes the blame,” McKissick said, “and athletics is a blame game. He manages the game so well and if he makes a mistake, he forgets the last play and worries about what’s on hand.”
Bridges seems to be the consummate football player, but baseball is in his future. He’s already committed to play for the Clemson Tigers as a pitcher after an impressive freshman season and as a member of the select travel team, the Diamond Devils.
Sawyer’s decision is interesting for two reasons. Most Diamond Devils end up in Columbia, playing for the South Carolina Gamecocks. The other is that Bridges prefers football over baseball.
“Yeah, I’ve heard the Diamond Devils program is a feeder-system for USC,” Bridges said. “My dad and brother went to USC, but Clemson was different when I visited. I visited other places, but Clemson stood out. I love the coaches, the coaching staff. It had pretty much everything I wanted.”
He admits he loves football over baseball, but couldn’t resist when a big-time college program came knocking on his door his freshman season.
The 5-11, 170-pound right-hander has a fastball that can register 90 mph on a radar gun. He also has good composure and control on the mound.
He went 5-1 as a freshman with a 1.13 ERA, while striking out 34 batters in 31 innings.
He’ll be at practice when the baseball team reconvenes and holds its first workout on Feb. 3. But for now, Bridges is all football.
“All we worry about is Friday,” Bridges said. “It’s November and that means it’s football season in Summerville.”