But after posting a nearly flawless turnover-free effort and a season high in points scored in Friday night’s 31-14 win over Edisto, the five-time defending region champion Bulldogs sent out a distinct message to the rest of Region 5-AA.
“It’s a statement to the region,” defensive lineman Blake Robbins said. “Silver Bluff is still here.”
Robbins – a basketball player in his first year of varsity football – used his 6-foot-6, 210-pound frame to create havoc in the Edisto backfield.
He forced the first of two first-half fumbles from Edisto quarterback Tyrell Maxwell and later blocked a punt that was smothered by a Bulldog pile in the end zone for a touchdown.
“He’s been our superstar this year,” Silver Bluff coach Al Lown said of the senior lineman. “I’m just glad we finally got him out here from the basketball court.”
The Bulldogs’ wing-T offense made full use of five different ball carriers in the first half and didn’t let up in the second half despite losing starter Tyler Fishalow to a shoulder injury.
Fishalow tallied 79 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries before leaving the game late in the first half.
He returned to the sideline in the third quarter with his arm in a sling and took a seat next to fellow injured tailback A.J. Washington, who has hobbled around on crutches the past two weeks and will undergo season-ending knee surgery later this month.
The injuries to skill players and 2-1 region record – a game behind region frontrunner Swansea – reminded Lown that a sixth consecutive region title is still a long way off.
“We’re not out of the ditch yet,” he said. “We’re climbing. We’re learning how to climb. But we’re not out.”
Rekem McCorkle, Shaquez Wright, R.J. Stallings and Dontay Ingram combined for more than 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who have now won two in a row.