The 2019 high school football preseason started Friday night with the WCTEL Classic at Abbeville High School.

The Panthers didn’t disappoint in the night’s main event, with a 10-7 win against Belton-Honea Path in the second scrimmage of the night. Abbeville fell behind late in the game, but a rushing touchdown from Cruz Temple sealed a win.

Abbeville’s new running backs showed their skill. Temple led a deep group of running backs with 54 yards on three carries. Temple scored his team’s only touchdown on a 10-yard run.

Abbeville kicker Dylan Beauford opened the scoring with a 24-yard field goal on the Panthers’ first drive of the game.

Seven different players ran the ball at least once for Abbeville. Martico Jackson had 17 yards on four carries and senior quarterback J.D. Moore had 35 yards on nine carries.

Though Abbeville has won the Class 2A state title each of the past four years, facing one of the top Class 4A teams in the state in preseason was still a difficult task. Abbeville coach Jamie Nickles wanted to see what he’d learn about his team.

“Thought it was two good football teams battling it out,” Nickles said. “We won some battles on the line of scrimmage, and they won some battles. That’s why you play these jamborees. Thought it was a good test for our young football team.”

Nickles tried to simulate a game situation late in the 24-minute game by going for it on fourth down deep in Abbeville’s own territory. When the Panthers couldn’t convert, Belton-Honea Path took over on the 20-yard line and threw a touchdown pass for its only score. At the time of the touchdown, Belton-Honea Path led 7-3 with about nine minutes left.

“I want to see what our four-minute offense is going to be,” Nickles said. “That’s my challenge to myself in the offseason. What is our four-minute offense going to accomplish? I had it in our practice schedule for Wednesday, but we ended up doing something else, so I scratched it. So that was all on me.”

Running backs impress

in McCormick-Ninety SixMcCormick and Ninety Six debuted several new players in a 6-6 tie to open the WCTEL Classic.

For the Chiefs, running backs A’Chean Durant and Omar Key impressed. Key took off on a 59-yard touchdown run to open scoring. Durant had 25 yards on three carries.

McCormick quarterback Sudarian Harrison, a freshman, completed three passes for 24 yards.

“We’ve still got a lot of hiccups, but the freshmen played really well,” McCormick coach Paul Pratt said. “I was really impressed with the freshmen out there. We’ve got about 85 percent freshmen, but these guys are go-getters. I was really impressed with this first jamboree coming in here.”

Ninety Six lost a pair of excellent running backs to graduation, but handed the ball off to Josh Booker, Jakalin Pendermon and George Nicholson. All three picked up yards steadily.

Ninety Six coach Matthew Owings said he wanted to see better tackling from his defense. The Wildcats missed a few starters with a stomach bug going through the team.

“We got to block better, we got to tackle better,” Owings said. “I know it sounds cliche but we missed a ton of tackles. Their biggest play, we probably missed four tackles on it. Their next biggest play, we missed a few tackles. You take that away, and we looked alright defensively.”

Dixie prevents upset

against Calhoun FallsDixie’s Wing-T offense incorporated several new players Friday night, but it was returning senior Dawson Glenn who made the difference for the Hornets.

Glenn ran for 108 yards and scored a touchdown as Dixie defeated Calhoun Falls 14-8. Calhoun Falls scored its only touchdown on a 75-yard fumble recovery and return by Kalik Bryant.

Dixie coach Vic Lollis said the team could use Glenn as a running back or quarterback this year. The Hornets also ran the ball with Wesley Martin.

“I saw a lot of mistakes and a lot of blocking assignments missed,” Lollis said. “I was proud of the effort but we got to get better at what we do. There’s still a lot to get accomplished right now.”

Calhoun Falls coach Chris Watts was proud of the Flashes’ effort and pleased to come close to a win. Calhoun Falls was 10 yards away from the end zone in the final minute of the game, but couldn’t score to tie the game.

“I saw a great effort,” Watts said. “I’ve been harping on them about investment, and we’ve got to get to it. This is probably one of the best things that could’ve happened to us from that standpoint. They got the taste. They realized we were there. We could’ve won that game. We were right there, but we ran empty.”

Contact sports writer Skylar Rolstad at 223-1813 or follow him on Twitter @SkyRolSports.