Brookland-Cayce opens playoffs at home after winning Region 5-3A title

By Thomas Grant Jr.

Brookland-Cayce head coach Rusty Charpia believes bigger things are still ahead for his football team.

The Bearcats clinched their fourth region title since 2016 with a 28-21 win over Gilbert. In all 10 meetings, the home team has emerged victorious.

“Anytime you win a region title it’s nice, particularly against a quality program like Gilbert,” Charpia said. “I guess three out of those four region titles were against Gilbert. In 2016, 2021 and 2023. The other one was in (Class) 4A. That’s twice now Gilbert was undefeated and probably was picked to win and somehow, we were able to play well enough to beat a fine team.”

Brookland-Cayce (8-2) takes its next step towards a return trip to the Class 3A state championship game Friday at Fort Knox against Lake City (4-6).

“It’s the best offensive line we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Coach Charpia

“I think our guys have grown up around here,” he said. “Most of these guys have been around since elementary and middle school here. I think they want bigger and better. They’ve seen several of our teams make it to the third round, to the Lower State title game. They’ve been to the third round twice and then the Lower State title game twice. We’ve been close. Maybe, this year is the team.”

The turning point of the game against Gilbert gives Charpia hope of special things ahead. The Indians were driving with the score tied at 14-14 when defensive lineman Jared Holmes found himself at the right place at the right time for an interception.

De’Shaun Washington scored the second of his three touchdowns on the ensuing drive to put the Bearcats up for good.

“He did make a very athletic play by tipping that ball and catching it,” Charpia said. “Maybe it’s one of those years where it just bounces your way.”

Holmes is part of what Charpia calls his best offensive linemen in his tenure. The group, led by All-State lineman Kamden Sox, Jacory Jones, Jordan Browning, Jaxon Bowers, An’Tohn Ford, and O’Bryant Leaphart, has been involved both on the field and in the weight room under the tutelage of position coach Chris Wright.

“They’re not your typical “hogs”, so to speak,” Wright said. “They can move. One of the things we focused on in the off-season is, with my style, I’m more of an old-school, weightlifting guy and if my guy across from you is stronger than your guy, typically in high school, that guy can win.

“So we focus a lot on old-school powerlifting. But, in addition to that, our huge focus for us in the off-season is the ability to move. So every single day, there are ladders, cone drills, direction changing drills. Just every single day and we’re relentless with it. To be honest with you, you can come here and watch these offensive linemen get on these ladders and they look as good as skilled guys from anywhere else.”

Both Charpia and Wright believe this team, combined with skilled players like Washington, quarterback Will Young and running back Jvonn Edwards, is “built for the post-season”.

“If they stay healthy and they keep doing what they’ve been doing, I think it gives you a chance to not get beat badly for sure because you can control the tempo of the game,” Charpia said. “You can run some time off the clock. They’re very physical and so, physicality-wise if we stay healthy, they do give us a good chance. It’s the best offensive line we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Up first is a “tough” Panthers team that the Bearcats are meeting for the first time. A win gets Brookland-Cayce a second-round home game against either Manning or Phillip Simmons.

The first-round game is available on the Palmetto State Sports Network. The app is available for download on Android, or iPhone and the website is

Final S.C. Prep Football Media Class 3A Poll

1. Daniel (16) (10-0)

2. Belton-Honea Path (10-0)

3. Dillon (9-1)

4. Chapman (9-1)

5. Crestwood (9-1)

6. Clinton (8-2)

7. Chester (8-2)

8. Brookland-Cayce (8-2)

9. Gilbert (9-1)

10. Broome (8-2)

Others receiving votes: Hanahan, Philip Simmons, Pendleton, Loris

Photo by – Brookland-Cayce lineman Jared Holmes and Kamden Sox.