Daniel hasn’t played in a state championship game in more than 20 years, but if Friday night was any indication, the Lions have a pretty good chance to make it to Columbia this season.
Led by senior running back Jae’lon Oglesby, No. 1-ranked Daniel defeated Pickens 40-3 in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs at Singleton Field.
Daniel (11-0) will host Clinton on Friday night in round two of the Class AAA playoffs.
Lions coach Randy Robinson can breathe a sigh of relief after winning the postseason opener, but he wants his team to realize that every week is a new season and their previous record doesn’t matter.
“It’s good to get that first win. Kids start trying to look ahead and start talking about winning a state championship,” Robinson said. “We tried to shut it down and say that we are 0-0 and we have to start fresh. Our guys did a pretty good job with that.”
Oglesby, who has committed to play next season at Clemson, didn’t have a rushing attempt until less than 50 seconds remained in the first half. That didn’t keep him from making an impact. He touched the ball only five times during the opening half but had 201 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
Oglesby’s first two catches of the game led to two touchdowns – a 15-yard touchdown pass from Andy McCall to Noah Preisch and a 1-yard run by McCall for a quick 14-0 lead.
On the Lion’s next three possession, Oglesby did what he does best – make plays in space — catching a 50-yard touchdown pass over the middle and racing 70 yards down the sideline for his second score of the night and a 26-0 Daniel lead.
After Daniel’s Amir Trapp intercepted an Elijah Turner pass, Oglesby made the most of his first rushing attempt, making three defenders miss as he ran down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown, giving Daniel a 33-0 lead at halftime.
The Lions’ starters played just one series in the second half, and it ended with a 32-yard pass from McCall to Preisch for a 40-0 lead.
The Blue Flame managed a late field goal by Matt Gravely for the game’s final points.
Pickens (6-5) loses 26 seniors, but coach Chad Seaborn said he is optimistic about a core group that will return in 2014.
“That was tough. You never want the season to end,” Seaborn said. “We have a great group of guys. We will find things to build on and correct. We’ve got a good nucleus coming back that we can build on. We’ve got to get better in the weight room and we’ve got to figure out how to get a little faster so we can compete with teams like this.”