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Along those lines: Battle up front may decide Class 2A championship

December 7, 2018

One team is running the same A-bone offense its been running for years. The other has adapted to include more spread offensive looks to go along with its traditional wishbone offense.

No matter how you look at it, the play of the offensive line has been a huge part what has gotten both Abbeville and Barnwell to the point they are are at now.

The two teams will meet for the Class AA state championship on Friday, and the offensive lines will likely play a big role in the outcome.

Barnwell’s unit accepted the challenge of learning what it takes to block in the spread offense and have succeeded. The Warhorses have passed for 2,215 yards and rush for another 2,723 yards. The offensive line, anchored by 6-foot-4, 305 pound junior Briggs Kearse, enjoys the multiple looks.

“It’s fun, because one play you’re pass setting and on another play, you’re hitting somebody in the mouth,” Kearse said. “As an offensive lineman you get to do both, and knowing that you can kind of control the game is a lot of fun. I enjoy it.”

The seamless transition from one to another posses a game plan issue for most opponents. It’s something Abbeville head coach Jamie Nickles knows his team has to be ready for.

“I’m just really impressed with their offensive line,” Nickles said. “In implementing the spread, it looks like they’ve been running it for 10 years. That’s how well they do it.”

That offensive line will have to contend with Pittsburgh commit Nate Temple coming off the edge to disrupt plays.

The Panthers haven’t had much of a problem stopping teams in either the passing game or the running game. The Panthers are only allowing an average of 220 total yards per game. Southside Christian remains the only team to break the 20-point mark in a game against them.

On the flip side, Barnwell’s defense will have to contend with quite an experienced offensive line as well. Abbeville’s line has paved the way for the Panthers 4,247 rushing yards and 58 rushing touchdowns this season.

The leader of the Panthers line, senior Jake Hill, gives a lot of credit to the Panthers defense for putting the offense in good positions. He added that everything starts with what the Panthers’ do throughout the week before the game.

“That’s where it starts, just working in practice and keep doing what we’re doing,” Hill said.

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