During two weekends earlier this month, several young football players from Columbia County traveled to South Carolina for the Upstate Football Invitational Championship. We had teams in four separate age groups participate in the tournament:
• Spartans, 8-under: made it to the semifinals
• Raiders, 10-under: runners-up
• Eagles, 12-under: made it to the semifinals
• Saints, 14-under: won the title
The Saints knocked off the Northfield Hornets 22-7 in the title game, which was played in Orangeburg, S.C. Our local team was outstanding throughout the tournament. The defense was very stingy, allowing just 25 points in four games. They were also very opportunistic, picking off six passes in the tournament.
Michael Kay led the way with a pair of interceptions, while Hunter Bentley returned an interception for a score. Tyler Yarnell, Alden Williams and I’Maj Franklin also had interceptions. Clint Tyler added to the turnover margin with a fumble recovery. John McRee helped spearhead the defensive effort from his nose guard spot, and Kyle O’Neill also had a solid tournament defensively as he led the team in tackles for loss.
The Saints’ offense proved to be too much for the competition as well. They used several big plays to pile up 101 points in just four games. There were several standouts for the Saints’ offense, but the star might have been quarterback Nick Patterson. Patterson, who had a great season under center for Evans Middle School this fall, tossed seven touchdown passes in the tournament. He also connected on three more passes for two-point conversions.
Patterson was great, but he was not alone. Robert Clay, who led Columbia Middle School to the middle school championship this season, also was terrific for the Saints. He rushed for three touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for a score as well.
Kay added to his two-interception performance on defense with four touchdown catches, and Franklin equaled Clay’s three rushing touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass, too. Hunter Bentley also had a touchdown grab, and Tristan Hawn caught three passes for extra points.
The Saints were coached by Scott Patterson, Bill Kay, Chuck McRee and Jeff Hawn.
Patterson feels the Columbia Area Youth Football Association (CAYFA) is having quite a positive affect on youth football in Columbia County. According to Patterson, the 14-under Saints’ roster included 20 players and five different teams from CAYFA.
The association will start its fifth year in the spring, and they have come a long way in a short time.
In year one, they had just five teams and 85 players from ages 10-12. Last year, CAYFA had 500 players and it now has five age divisions.
Registration for this season is underway. They will hold combines in February and games start in March. To register, or for details, go to www.cayfafootball.com.