Above: Hilton Head Island quarterback Jaylen Sneed gets overpowered by Beaufort’s Alvin Wilson on Friday, Sept. 1, at Beaufort High. Photo by Bob Sofaly.
By Wes Kerr
The Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas may have been canceled for 2021, but four Lowcountry standouts were recognized by the game’s committee Tuesday for their outstanding seasons on the football field.
Hilton Head High two-way star Jaylen Sneed and Beaufort High defensive end Alvin Wilson were named to the Team South Carolina roster alongside Whale Branch lineman Xavier Chaplin and Bluffton defensive end DJ Aiken.
The all-star game pitting the best high school football seniors from North and South Carolina against each other was called off in September for the second straight season due to COVID-19 concerns, but the selection committee released rosters to honor the top seniors in the neighboring states.
A monster on the defensive line for Beaufort High, Wilson has led the Eagles to their second consecutive berth in the 4A Lower State semifinals. The senior star has been a force in the trenches all season long, compiling 66 tackles — including an incredible 24 tackles for loss — along with 16 quarterback pressures, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and two pass breakups to help Beaufort’s defense hold opponents to under 13 points per game. His strength and power on the outside has been paramount for the Eagles in their playoff run, earning wins over South Florence and North Augusta to set up a rematch at Myrtle Beach on Friday.
Chaplin has been a phenom on both sides of the ball for Whale Branch. Selected to the Shrine Bowl as an offensive lineman, Chaplin helped pave the way for a run game totaling a terrific 226.7 rushing yards per game and 31 touchdowns. He has also been a standout on defense, collecting 52 tackles (5.8 per game) with 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. The Virginia Tech commit delivered a beastly performance on defense in Friday’s second-round playoff win over Lake View, racking up a team-leading eight tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage, to send the Warriors to their second straight 1A Lower State semifinal appearance.
Sneed put together a spectacular senior campaign for BJ Payne’s Seahawks, taking over at quarterback midseason while leading the defense at linebacker. The Notre Dame commit showcased his high motor and exceptional athleticism on the field this fall, racking up 101 tackles (11.2 per game) with eight tackles for loss, one sack, eight quarterback pressures, two interceptions, and a pass breakup. Sneed ignited the Seahawks’ offense down the stretch at quarterback, using his impressive strength and explosiveness to power past defenders on the ground for 815 yards and 11 touchdowns on 117 carries while adding a pair of touchdown passes. He was one of just five finalists for South Carolina’s 2021 Mr. Football award.
Anchoring a stellar Bluffton defensive front, Aiken finished his Bobcat career with a tremendous season at defensive end. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound senior was a menace on the line for John Houpt’s team, using his terrific strength and power to wreak havoc in opponents’ backfields. Aiken could not be contained from exploding behind the line of scrimmage, racking up 83 tackles (8.3 per game) with 23 tackles for loss, two sacks, and a fumble recovery.
Despite the Shrine Bowl’s cancelation, Sneed, Wilson, and Chaplin will compete in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl on December 11 in Myrtle Beach, joining May River’s Garvin Douglas and Jaeon Allen.