Photo by Justin Jarrett

Lowco football stars celebrate college signings

By Justin Jarrett

After a season for the ages that ended with a trip to the Class 4A state title game, a trio of Beaufort High football standouts signed their letters of intent Wednesday at the school, solidifying their plans to continue their careers at the next level.

Standout quarterback Tyler Haley made official his plans to play at Newberry College next season, while star defensive end Alvin Wilson and kicker Joe Caprarola will team up at Benedict College and play on the same field where they ended their high school careers.

An emotional coach Bryce Lybrand said a few words about each of his seniors, starting with Haley, the highly-accomplished signal-caller who has guided the Eagles’ offense since he was a freshman. Lybrand recounted the first time he saw Haley, who inexplicably lived up to the hype that Lybrand didn’t believe could be met by a middle school quarterback.

Haley played as a freshman and started as a sophomore before his season was cut short by injury. He came back from the setback even stronger to put together a fantastic junior season and led the Eagles to the state championship game as a senior, passing for more than 2,500 yards with 16 touchdowns and rushing for nearly 600 yards and nine scores. The Wolves will lose starting quarterback Dre Harris to graduation, leaving an open competition that will give Haley an opportunity to prove himself right away.

Wilson is a major get for NCAA Division II Benedict, a player with D1-caliber skills who may have been overlooked in part because he intentionally flies under the radar. Lybrand joked that Wilson grew frustrated with him each time his coach asked him to do an interview leading up to the state championship game, and he’s a man of few words, but his stats spoke for himself this season.

A 6-3, 240-pound defensive end, Wilson has a quick first step and is powerful at the point of attack, making him a dangerous pass rusher. He was perhaps the most dominant defensive player in the Lowco this season with 75 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks along with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He fills a position of need for the Tigers and should have the opportunity to contribute quickly.

Lybrand poked fun at Caprarola for being a last-minute addition to the signing ceremony after making up his mind Tuesday night that he would continue his kicking career in Columbia, the kind of move expected from the Eagles’ wild card kicker. Caprarola came over from the Eagles’ soccer program as a sophomore and grew into one of the most reliable legs in the Lowco this season. He converted 55 of 57 PAT attempts and was 14-of-19 on field goals, including six over 40 yards with a long of 47, so he has the leg to help the Tigers.

“It’s great to celebrate these guys today, because they certainly deserve it,” Lybrand said. “They did everything we asked of them, and they did it the right way.”

Two Warriors ink scholarships

Despite plenty of overtures from other Power 5 programs, Whale Branch star lineman Xavier Chaplin stuck by his longtime commitment to Virginia Tech and signed to play on the offensive line for the Hokies next season, while teammate Joseph Hicks signed with NCAA Division II Limestone.

Chaplin was a monster in the trenches for the Warriors, leading an offensive line that paved the way for one of the most potent rushing attacks in Class 1A with Hicks leading the charge on the ground. At 6-6 and 315 pounds, Chaplin is the rare high school offensive lineman who has the physical profile to play right away at the Power 5 level, and he will only solidify his massive frame and improve his already impressive athleticism when he gets to Blacksburg.

Big-time programs passed on Hicks because his top-end speed doesn’t hit the metrics they seek in a running back, but he is a hard-working playmaker who has a chance to be a star at the D2 level. Hicks racked up 1,129 yards and 19 touchdowns on 97 carries, averaging 11.6 yards per carry and 125.4 per game, and that was only one facet of his contributions to the Warriors. He also collected 47 tackles, 10 for loss, with a sack and two interceptions, and he took two kickoffs to the house. He should be an asset for the Saints.

Creek duo headed to Kansas JUCO

In what could grow into a trend, the pipeline from the Lowco to the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference continued to take shape with Battery Creek defensive standouts Quatrell Livingston and Alvin Black Jr. signing with Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, joining May River quarterback Garvin Douglas (Hutchinson) in the KJCCC.

Livingston was the heart and soul of the Dolphins’ defense, racking up 51 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, with five sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and interception, and a pass breakup. At 6-2 and 205 pounds with great athletic ability, Livingston projects as a linebacker or edge rusher, and he played both roles at Battery Creek.

Black played on both sides of the line for the Dolphins, but he projects as a defensive tackle or noseguard for the Red Ravens. He is a prototypical run-stopper, measuring at 6-5 and 358 pounds, but he moves well and contributes to the Dolphins’ basketball team along with Livingston. 

Livingston and Black will have two seasons of eligibility to hone their skills and seek opportunities to continue their careers at four-year schools.

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