2013-11-08 / Sports

‘Stepp’ing it up

By LARRY HILLIARD
Ledger Sports Editor


Gaffney wideout Dylan Stepp has become a valuable possession receiver for the Indians. Stepp played his best all around game in the win over Boiling Springs with four catches for 37 yards. 
(Ledger photo/ LARRY HILLIARD Gaffney wideout Dylan Stepp has become a valuable possession receiver for the Indians. Stepp played his best all around game in the win over Boiling Springs with four catches for 37 yards. (Ledger photo/ LARRY HILLIARD The depth of the Gaffney passing game was on display Friday when quarterback Shaq Davidson completed passes to five different players.

When Davidson really needs a completion, however, he’s becoming more and more likely to throw to Dylan Stepp.

Wideout Greg Ellis is the team’s home run threat, a speedster who can turn short passes into a touchdown, while Eddie Studyvance is a big target down near the goal line. But Stepp is often the target to move the chains on third down or to get some momentum going.

“He is getting better each week,” Gaffney first-year wide receivers coach Blue Cooper said. “Last week was probably his best game of the season.”

Stepp had four catches for 37 yards in the Indians’ thrilling 59-54 win over Boiling Springs.

He’s had other big games. In Gaffney’s come-frombehind win over Dorman, Stepp had three catches for 72 yards, including two big catches on the game-winning drive. The first catch came after a Cavalier defensive back tipped the ball. Stepp never lost concentration and hauled in the deflection for a big gain.

Stepp’s second reception on the game-winning drive moved the ball to the Dorman 15.

The easy-going Stepp has improved at getting open on those possession-type plays.

“I’m not a red-zone guy. I’m a first-down guy,” said Stepp as a smile crossed his face.

Stepp’s routes take him over the middle or near the sidelines, never deep.

“I’m not really looking to be that guy,” he said. “I’m like the sure-handed guy.”

“As a first-year coach when you work with a senior you try to find the one thing that you can build on,” Cooper said. “(Dylan’s) not going to run by you, but he can catch the ball.”

Stepp also is developing into one of the better blockers. Everyone loves speedy receivers who can make game-changing plays, but they won’t see the field as much at Gaffney if they can’t block.

“To be a wideout here, you need speed, hands and you have to block,” Stepp said. “We run the ball a lot, so you have to be able to block.”

His physical tools — hands and blocking ability — are just a part of what makes Stepp as good as he’s become. He’s also very coachable.

“He takes coaching well,” Cooper said. “He takes coaching the right way. He doesn’t get down.”

Wanting to become a more complete receiver, Stepp worked with local track legend Allie Bridges this summer to improve his speed and agility.

For the season, Stepp has 14 catches for 180 yards. His numbers would be better but he injured his shoulder in the opener against Northwestern. The injury kept him out of the Clinton and York game as well.

He moved into the starting lineup the next week against Dorman after JoJo McGill was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Not a big stat guy, Stepp considers wins and losses the most important number.

“I like how the season is going. We are winning games,” he said.

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