2014-11-12 / Sports

Ready to roll?

Gaffney overcomes adversity to turn in top performance of season against region champs
By LARRY HILLARD
Ledger Sports Editor


Gaffney running back Jalen Sims runs through a gaping hole on his way to a 196-yard rushing night against Northwestern on Friday. Sims tweaked his hamstring late in the game but will play against top seeded Fort Dorchester when the Indians open the playoffs on Friday. Gaffney running back Jalen Sims runs through a gaping hole on his way to a 196-yard rushing night against Northwestern on Friday. Sims tweaked his hamstring late in the game but will play against top seeded Fort Dorchester when the Indians open the playoffs on Friday. The going is getting tougher for Gaffney as the playoffs begin, and so are the Indians’ opponents. But the Indians are showing tenacity.

As the No. 16 seed Indians (4-7) prepare for their playoff opener against No. 1 seed Fort Dorchester, they are dealing with a hamstring injury to running back Jalen Sims. A handful of others, notably offensive linemen Bryson Willis and Jackson Miller have been out with leg injuries. Then, there’s leading rusher Jordon Shippy, who was lost for the season against Rock Hill.

Yet Gaffney managed to overcome all of that, beating region champion Northwestern in a lopsided win on Friday.

“We had five seniors standing on the sidelines for Senior Night, and four of them were in boots and crutches,” Gaffney coach Dan Jones said. “But you have to get ready and play with the players you have.”

Sims, who rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns on Friday, participated in practice on Monday and is probable for Friday.

“He tweaked the hamstring but he should be okay,” the Gaffney coach said.

Against Northwetern, Jones said the team’s quick start was instrumental in the win.

“I said all season we needed something good to happen,” Jones said. “It started on a good note and then we had the safety. The kids got excited. It was Senior Night, so the seniors knew it would be the last time they played here.”

The Indians also had a recipe for success lacking in other games - no turnovers, few penalties and the receivers catching the ball.

“I thought we had a chance to be the team we were Friday, but people have to make plays,” Jones said.

There were plenty of playmakers. Sophomore QB Bryson Ward was outstanding, completing 22 of his 27 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Jones noted that Ward has been playing at a high level for most of the season.

“It was certainly one of his better games, but he has played well in several of our games,” Jones said. “The receivers stepped up on Friday.”

While the patchwork offensive line opened holes, Sims read his blocks well.

“Jalen is patient and he waits for the holes to open,” the Gaffney coach said.

The Indians’ defense bottled up Northwestern’s dynamic quarterback, Dupree Hart, limiting the all-star to only 38 yards rushing and 201 through the air.

However, the Indians face an even bigger challenge against Fort Dorchester, a team that features a staunch defense stacked with athletic players who will be playing on Saturdays.

“They have some kids who look like Division I players,” Jones said.

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