AJ Middle encore is second straight perfect season

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Volunteers go 7-0 for 2008 campaign

By Robert Howey

The Andrew Jackson Middle School football team produced quite an encore this season.

A year after the Volunteers fashioned a sterling 8-0 season, coach Jerry Pardue’s team followed with a 7-0 record this fall.

“We had enough players coming back from last season and we also had some new ones who stepped in and came on strong for us,” Pardue said. “We didn’t know if we could have another undefeated season, but we did it.”

The Vols, on the way to the unbeaten season, notched four shutouts and outscored their foes 224-20.

“We knew we had a chance to be pretty good,” Pardue said. “Our guys worked hard and we improved with a lot of scrimmaging in practice.”

Pardue, reflecting on the season, said an early key game for the Vols was with Camden.

“We were able to see them play and we were prepared,” he said. “We came out and played hard against a good-hitting football team.

“Camden Middle is a larger school than AJ Middle and they’re always a good football team,” Pardue said. “They are a quality opponent. When we beat them, it gave us some early confidence.”

AJMS defeated Camden 16-0.

“We were happy to get a win and a shutout against a quality football team,” Pardue said.

AJMS followed with a 30-0 home win over South Middle School of Lancaster. The Vols used a quick start to take control of the game. AJMS ignited for 22 first-period points on the way to a 30-0 lead at the half.

“Coming out and taking the early lead gave us a lot of momentum against a good football team,” Pardue said. “That was a big win because South is a well-coached team. We have a little rivalry going with South and we were able to beat them for the third straight season.”

South went 6-1, with its lone loss to the Vols. AJMS also defeated A.R. Rucker Middle School of Lancaster, 36-0.

The Vols also downed Buford Middle, which lost two games, 30-6, and rival New Heights.

“Buford had only one loss (to South) coming into our game, but we started strong and had a good first half,” Pardue said.

Against New Heights, the Pageland team rallied from a 16-0 start and scored to make it 16-6, but AJMS answered with a pair of TDs to garner the 30-6 win.

In 23 years of coaching at AJMS, Pardue has fashioned six unbeaten seasons.

Pardue said the 51-member team included a host of players who stood out.

Pardue saluted corner back Cody Ussery, defensive end Seth Graves along with offensive and defensive lineman William Cunningham.

On offense, the Vols had a solid backfield with quarterback Tripp Rollings along with running backs Gavin Clyburn and Javaris Clyburn. Up front on offense, Pardue lauded the play of center Nick Ellis and guard Joseph Railey.

Kicker-punter Chandler Neal also played a key roll in AJMS’s season.

“Chandler was important because he allowed us to maintain good field position throughout the season with his kicking,” Pardue said.

Pardue is assisted Brian Steele and Chris Timmons.

“We were very successful and it will be tough to repeat next season,” Pardue said.