Originally created 12/01/99

Aiken to face Greenwood for title



AIKEN -- Aiken's high powered Wing-T offense has carried many faces this season.

It would be wise for Hornet opponents to remember them because all but one will be back again next year.

Senior defensive lineman Marcus Simpkins has 217-yards rushing and five touchdowns in a part-time fullback role. The Shrine Bowl selection will be the only loss from a group that has piled up 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns this year on the ground.

Antwan Smith, Aaron Epps, Tim Chandler, Corey Ready and Brian Staley are the featured backs in the run-by-committee offense. They are also all juniors. Smith leads the bunch with 859-yards on just 113 carries for a 8-yard per carry average.

Ready, at quarterback, has rushed for 516-yards on 159 carries and leads the team in scoring with 16 rushing touchdowns. Staley has gotten the least of the attempts, but his 9.8-yard per carry average has allowed him 423-yards on just 43 tries.

Head coach Carey Johnson hasn't worried about splitting carries between the bunch, he's more interested in the wealth, and not how he spreads it.

"When you have a lot of people that can carry the ball, you have to let them get em," Johnson said. "We have some great athletes that can all do some things. We also have great kids who are team players. Of course if one guy is hot, we want him to have the ball, but at the same time, we want to keep him rested and we don't want anybody keying in on one person."

Greenwood (11-3) will have the trouble of trying to slow down the Hornet onslaught Friday in the Class AAAA Division II state championship game played at Williams-Brice Stadium at 8 p.m.

The Eagles have one featured back in Derrick Young, who has amassed 1,500 yards rushing this season, making him the prime target and a costly loss if injured.

Aiken (12-2) couldn't have that problem. When junior running back Roderiquize Chandler went down with a torn anterior collateral ligament in the Aiken County Jamboree in August, the Hornets rested him the entire regular season and didn't miss a beat.

In his place stepped sophomores Josh Nicholson and Aqunias Williams. Nicholson has ran up 390-yards on the ground and Williams has chipped in with 181 on the year. But now Chandler is back in the lineup and in reserve time has carried eight times for 42 yards.

The scarce amount of carries hasn't come between the youngsters, in fact, it's a system they are glad Johnson implemented.

"It pretty much doesn't matter who gets the ball," Smith said. "It's good because if I'm having a bad game, someone else can step in and have a big night. We all pull for each other because we've been playing together so long."

Chandler agreed saying, "We just want to win. We've been playing together since the first grade and it's to the point where we just don't think about who's going to get the ball."

While Johnson praises his players willingness to adhere to the system, according to him it really wouldn't matter if they didn't.

"Either you do it or don't get any carries at all," he said. "This is not a democracy, it's a dictatorship. The ultimate goal is winning. We haven't had a problem because the kids want to win."