CHARLESTON, S.C. — Bishop England’s offense was sufficient and the defense was superb. But the victory celebration, well, that’s another story.
With the final seconds ticking off the clock in Bishop England’s 21-0 victory over Silver Bluff in the Class AA Division II Lower State championship, a couple of players attempted the Gatorade sneak attack on coach John Cantey. Cantey, however, showed some moves that rivaled star running back Andrew Bunch’s fake-and-bake and dodged the cold shower.
Silver Bluff couldn’t dodge the Bishops, who claimed their first Lower State championship since 1976. Remember the country’s bicentennial? It was a little hazy for Cantey, who was only 2 years old when his father coached the team.
“Thirty-five years,” Cantey said. “It took 35 years to get back here, but it’s worth it. It was a great win. I didn’t think we had a water cooler out here so I didn’t think I had to worry. But I caught something in the corner of my eye and was able to avoid it.”
The victory, in front of approximately 2,500 fans at Jack Cantey Stadium, gives the Bishops a 12-1 record and a date in Friday’s state championship game. The Bishops play Central, a 21-20 winner over Columbia, at Benedict College in Columbia. Silver Bluff finished with a 9-4 record.
It was more of the same for the Bishops’ defense, which recorded its sixth shutout of the season. The Bishops came in allowing only 158 yards per game and were stellar against the Bulldogs. Silver Bluff managed only 82 yards, with just 23 in the second half.
“They have a good defense,” Silver Bluff coach Al Lown said. “I haven’t seen a defense that good for a long time. They really play well, and you have to give them credit. They play hard and are well coached. They have a good football team. It’s gong to take a heck of an effort to beat them in the state championship.”
The Bishops’ offense churned for 360 yards in the team’s 12th consecutive win after a 14-12 loss to West Ashley in the season opener.
Quarterback Danny Croghan was 9 for 11 passing for 138 yards and a score. He added 77 yards and a score on 19 rushes.
Bunch, a three-year starter, carried 16 times for 76 yards and caught four passes for 88 yards. He scored two touchdowns.
“To go down as one of the best teams in Bishop England history is a great feeling,” Bunch said. “All 14 seniors on the team have worked hard. It started this summer when we would get going at 6 o’clock in the morning and it ends next week. I’m just amazed right now.”
The Bishops outgained the Bulldogs 160-59 in the first half, but the Bishops had three turnovers. Two killed promising drives.
“Our defense played great,” Cantey said. “But I didn’t think we’d get the shutout tonight. They had too many weapons.”