PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Gass moves to middle of Sumter line to win award along with LMA’s Brunson, Lee and Knights' Lowery

Center of attention

BY DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 9/12/18

Tayvian Gass has been selected as The Sumter Item Offensive Lineman of the Week for the second straight week. However, he didn't dominate at his normal right tackle spot like he did in the Gamecocks' 34-10 win over Conway the prior week.

Instead, …

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PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Gass moves to middle of Sumter line to win award along with LMA’s Brunson, Lee and Knights' Lowery

Center of attention

Sumter High School's Tayvian Gass (68) won The Sumter Item Offensive Lineman Player of the Week for the second straight week despite moving from right tackle to center due to an injury on the offensive line.
Sumter High School's Tayvian Gass (68) won The Sumter Item Offensive Lineman Player of the Week for the second straight week despite moving from right tackle to center due to an injury on the offensive line.
Posted

Tayvian Gass has been selected as The Sumter Item Offensive Lineman of the Week for the second straight week. However, he didn't dominate at his normal right tackle spot like he did in the Gamecocks' 34-10 win over Conway the prior week.

Instead, the 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound Gass moved to the middle of the offensive line at center and stood out there as well in Sumter's 49-7 triumph over Lakewood.

"It really didn't matter to me," Gass said of the position switch. "I want to do whatever I can to help the team win. I'm so versatile that I can play from left tackle to right tackle."

Joining Gass are two Laurence Manning Academy players in running back Brewer Brunson, the Offensive Player of the Week, and placekicker Jackson Lee, the Special Teams Player of the Week. Crestwood defensive end Parris Lowery is the Defensive Player of the Week.

Players are selected based on nominations from local high school coaches. Selections are made by The Sumter Item.

The quartet will be honored at next week's weekly meeting of the Sumter Touchdown Club presented by FTC. The club is delaying the honors since none of the local schools with the possible exception of one will play games this week due to the threat of Hurricane Florence.

However, Friday's meeting is still on the docket. It will be held at Swan Lake Visitors Center beginning at 7:15 a.m. The visitors center is located inside the gates of Swan Lake-Iris Gardens on West Liberty Street.

Tommy Moody, a sports talk radio host on WNKT-FM 107.5 in Columbia, will be the guest speaker. He replaces fellow 107.5 host Heath Cline, who had to step down.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN TAYVIAN GASS SUMTER

Gass found out on the Monday prior to the Lakewood game that he would be anchoring the middle of the line because of an injury to normal starter John Adams.

"I played center my first two games on B team my freshman year," said Gass, who was moved to tackle after that. "So that was all the experience I had there."

Not only is the blocking different, but there's that little thing about having to snap the football to the quarterback every play. Gass ended up with a grade of 75 percent and seven knockdown blocks.

"I was a little concerned about snapping the ball," he said. "I think I only had two bad snaps."

Sumter head coach Mark Barnes had nothing but praise for his versatile center.

"That was a big help to us," Barnes said of Gass moving inside. "He did a good job snapping the ball most of the night. He's so versatile we even got to play him some at guard."

Barnes expects Gass to be back at right tackle when Sumter plays host to Bluffton on Sept. 21.

OFFENSE BREWER BRUNSON LAURENCE MANNING

While Wyatt Rowland had been the main offensive sparkplug for the Swampcats in their first two victories of the season, it was Brunson's turn in their 48-25 triumph over Heathwood Hall.

Brunson, a senior 4-year starter, rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries.

"I was able to get outside on the edge a lot," Brunson said. "The offensive line was doing a really good job of blocking to let me get out there."

LMA head coach Robbie Briggs has nothing but respect for Brunson.

"He's the heartbeat of our football team," Briggs said. "He does everything you ask him to do. He's just a blue collar type of player. He's one of the reasons we've had so much success over the last four years."

Adding to his offensive performance, Brunson also had nine tackles at cornerback.

SPECIAL TEAMS JACKSON LEE LAURENCE MANNING

Lee was perfect on his six extra point attempts against Heathwood Hall. That is nothing out of the ordinary; the junior is 22-for-22 on the season and has connected on his only field goal attempt of the season as well.

All of the extra point attempts meant Lee was kicking off a lot as well -- and he did a good job in that as well. The Highlanders' average field position after kickoffs was their 28-yard line, meaning they had to go over 70 yards to score a touchdown.

"That's just huge for us," Briggs said. "We have a formula that we use (with the kicking game), and he gives us 11 first downs a game. That is such a weapon for us."

Lee takes his kicking duties, which also includes punting, very seriously.

"The last two summers I've gone to a couple of camps to work on my kicking," Lee said. "It's allowed me to increase my distance on field goals, kickoffs and punts."

DEFENSE PARRIS LOWERY CRESTWOOD

The Knights may have to fell to 0-4 on the season with a 14-7 loss to Manning, but Lowery had very little, if anything, to do with it.

The sophomore had a monster game, coming up with seven tackles for loss among his 12 total tackles.

"I was able to get off my block pretty well," Lowery said of his ability to get loose behind the line of scrimmage so often. "I was able to put my hands on the blocker, and I used this little move that I do."

Lowery is one of eight new starters on the Crestwood defense. After giving up 108 points in their first two games, the Knights have only allowed 35 in their last two contests.

"Parris played very well," said Crestwood head coach Roosevelt Nelson. "He's feeling more comfortable, and he took advantage of this opportunity."