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A week ago when the Buford High football made the trip to Bishopville to face Lee Central in Region IV-AA play, the Jackets were slightly short-handed.
A few players were missing with injuries and a couple others with suspensions.
BHS coach Mike Wells said he knew for the Jackets to earn their first region win, somebody had to step to the fore for the maroon and gold in crunch time.
He had an idea it might be senior two-way performer Seth Chapman.
“He’s a leader in our secondary and a vocal leader,” Wells said. “Seth does what you ask him to do and he doesn’t complain.
“He’s had some nagging injuries this year, but he keeps on playing and giving his best effort.”
So in the final period in a tie game with the host Stallions, Chapman, a four-year member of the BHS varsity and a two-year starter at corner and wingback, came up big for the Jackets.
Chapman, Johnny-on-the-spot, snared a tipped ball and dashed 20 yards for the score which would put BHS on top for good, 26-18 after quarterback Des McGriff’s two-point conversion.
“They felt good and knowing the impact on the game, putting us ahead, that made it that much better,” Chapman said. “That was my first time to take one back, so that made it even more special.”
Chapman made the play, but he said the score was all about teamwork.
“We had been getting good pressure on their quarterback all night and then Marcus Brown just tipped the ball in the air and I grabbed it and ran it in.”
Chapman’s pick six pushed the Jackets to a 26-18 lead before Lee Central rallied to make it close, 26-24, but the BHS defense stopped the possible, tying two-point conversion.
“We stepped up,” Chapman said, “We had a good week of practice and played hard. That made a difference in the game.”
Wells said he got what he expected from Chapman.
“He’s a true team leader,” he said. “Seth gives you what you expect from a seasoned senior. You look for your veterans to lead in certain ways and Seth will be vocal, but he also leading with his action.”
Chapman said it’s part of what he contributes to the team.
“I encourage my teammates to be in the right coverage and to give it their best effort each down,” he said. “Since we were missing a few players last week, we had to do that and it was big.”
Jackets’ secondary coach Eric Funderburk said Chapman’s play is about his technique.
“What he lacks in size and ability, he makes up with his technique and fundamentals,” Funderburk said. “He’s our most dependable defensive back. Seth’s going to do his best to keep the ball from the receiver.”
Chapman, who also plays wingback in the Jackets’ Wing-T attack, said he prefers defense.
“You hit people on defense,” he said. “On offense, you get hit.”
Chapman will have extra incentive to land his share of hits tonight when the Jackets face the Braves. The CHS lineup includes his cousin, lineman Christopher McCoy.
“I’ll be playing against my first cousin, but for 48 minutes we’re enemies,” Chapman said.
The Jackets, from a team standpoint, also want a win.
“If we finish with three straight wins, we will be in second place and have a home playoff game, but we have to win out,” he said. “It will be a tough game, so we have to hold onto the football, minimize our penalties, stop their running game and make tackles. On offense we need to move the football.”
As for leadership, like last week, Chapman’s got that covered.
“You know what you’re going to get from Seth,” Funderburk said. “He’s extremely coachable. He’s going to give you his best every day.”