Daniel coach Randy Robinson didn’t have many nervous moments during a regular season where the Lions outscored opponents by an average of 30 points. But when Adrien Dunn intercepted a pass at Daniel’s own 1-yard line, Robinson started to sweat in an Oct. 26 rivalry game against Seneca.
He looked to junior running back Jae’lon Oglesby.
“When I sent that play in, it was kind of an ‘Uh-oh, I hope we don’t get caught for a safety,” said Robinson, whose team was trying to seal the region title.
Oglesby, however, told Dunn exactly what he was going to do. He made good on a promise to take the next carry to the house after catching a Deletric Greenlee block on the edge and going 99 yards for a touchdown to create a signature moment during a season where he earned 2012 Independent Mail Player of the Year honors.
Oglesby finished with 385 yards, breaking Miller Dawson’s 39-year old single-game school rushing record, and Daniel clinched its fifth region title in six years.
“I knew we were playing for a region title and for a top seed,” Oglesby said. “I did what I needed to do.”
Topping a 1,700-yard breakout sophomore campaign was a tall order. Yet, Oglesby ran for 2,472 yards and 33 touchdowns to lead the Lions (11-3) to the Class 3A Upper State finals.
A run at the state’s single-season rushing mark or even 3,000 yards was certainly in the cards had the Clemson commit not sat out the second half of several blowout victories.
Robinson took the blame for Oglesby, who has 4,284 yards in his varsity career, not rewriting the record books.
“Maybe I’m just old now,” Robinson said. “I look at two things. I don’t want to embarrass another team if we happen to be way up. It could happen to us one day. Two is we don’t want an injury bug. We didn’t want to overuse him.”
If you ask Oglesby, he would have toted the ball every play this season. He had a lot to prove after ending 2011 on a sour note when he fumbled on the 2-yard line in a third-round overtime loss to York last season.
“It was just motivation going into this year,” Oglesby said. “I didn’t feel like I killed the team, but I felt like I killed the team. It kept us from going to the next round. Nobody said anything to put me down negatively. Everyone just said that we’ve got next year.”
In the offseason, Oglesby worked on his explosiveness moving through the hole and started making just one cut rather than juking.
“His sophomore year was a lot of raw talent. He still didn’t really understand what we were doing in front of him,” Robinson said. “With a year under his belt and after seeing a lot more film, he slowed things down in practice and it’s showing where his cuts are.”
Working behind an offensive line which included three all-region selections — J.D. Stewart, Justin Miller and Daniel McAlister — Oglesby’s learned he didn’t have to make things happen on his own.
“I feel like I trust them a lot more,” Oglesby said of the offensive line. “Last year I was younger and just felt like I needed to run. Now I’m more patient.”
His production also made life easier during the transition to sophomore quarterback Andy McCall and created one-on-one coverage on the outside for Dunn and Tyus Gaines, who had their best seasons at Daniel this year.
Looking toward next season, Oglesby said making a run at 3,000 yards would be nice, but his ultimate goal is still to bring Daniel its first state crown since 1998.
Robinson thinks a lot more will go into reaching that goal than just Oglesby’s play on the field.
“The numbers will take care of themselves. I’m looking for leadership,” Robinson said. “I’m looking for the guy who’s going to be the leader in the weight room because we lost some great leaders this year. ... We’ve got some great leaders on defense. I’m looking for some leaders on offense.”
Backed up against its own goal line, Daniel knows who it can turn to.
Independent Mail All-Area Team
QB — Matt Williams, B-HP, Sr.
The two-time all-area selection completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,344 yards and 18 touchdowns en route to all-Region 1-3A honors despite opening the season with a thumb injury. He also served as B-HP’s punter and spent time in the defensive secondary.
RB — Jae’lon Oglesby, Daniel, Jr.
Followed up a breakout sophomore campaign where he rushed for 1,731 yards with 2,472 yards and 33 touchdowns. The Clemson commit and all-Region 1-3A selection averaged 176.5 yards a game and has become one of the top backs in the state.
RB — Korey Thompson, B-HP, Sr.
Serving as B-HP’s workhorse, Thompson carried 272 times for 1,716 yards and 27 touchdowns. The all-region tailback also caught seven passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
RB — Levi Bufford, Wren, Sr.
The North-South all-star and all-Region 1-3A selection ran for 1,123 yards and 19 touchdowns and caught 14 balls out of the backfield for 209 yards and three scores.
OL — Justin Miller, Daniel, Sr.
The three-year starter and all-region center was the anchor of a line that paved the way for Jae’lon Oglesby to rush for nearly 2,500 yards and an offense that racked up nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. Miller played in the North-South All-Star Game.
OL — John Johnson, Pendleton, Sr.
A three-year starter and all-Region 1-2A selection, Johnson, who graded out at 86 percent, led an offense that averaged 315 rushing yards and 389 total yards per game.
OL — Brandon Schortgen, Sr., B-HP
The two-time all-region honoree at right tackle graded out at 87 percent with 19 knockdown blocks.
OL — Daniel Sanchez, Liberty, Sr.
Sanchez earned all-Region 1-2A honors for the third consecutive year after grading out at 75 percent and posting 52 knockdown blocks.
OL — J.D. Stewart, Daniel, Sr.
The all-region guard was vital in pass protection of a first-year starting quarterback and in run blocking for one of the state’s top rushing attacks.
TE — Andrew Marchbanks, Westside, Jr.
An all-Region 1-4A choice, Marchbanks graded out at 78 percent with eight knockdowns and caught six balls for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
WR — Keinan Lewis, B-HP, Sr.
Finished off a prolific career with 63 receptions for 1,213 yards and 14 touchdowns to go with two TDs on the ground. The all-region and Shrine Bowl player also had two interceptions and returned a punt for a score.
WR — Dorian Raines, Seneca, Sr.
The North-South all-star and all-Region 1-3A honoree made 75 catches for 1,475 yards and 15 touchdowns.
PK — Alex Haynes, Pendleton, Jr.
Haynes, an all-region selection, was 8-for-12 on field goals with a long of 41 yards and was 43 for 47 on extra points.
All-purpose — Adrien Dunn, Daniel, Sr.
Dunn was an all-region selection as a safety the last two years, but made it as a receiver this year after catching 47 passes for 620 yards and five touchdowns. As a returner, he averaged 22.1 yards per punt return and scored four times.
All-purpose — Marquis Arnold, Seneca, Jr.
The all-region selection rushed for 1,308 yards and 21 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown.
DL — D.J. Jones, Wren, Sr.
Jones, a transfer from Carolina Academy, was a game-changer at defensive tackle, finishing with 112 tackles (41 for a loss), 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. The all-Region 1-3A selection was selected to the Shrine Bowl.
DL — Jamar Brown, Westside, Sr.
The all-Region 1-4A selection tallied 55 tackles (nine for a loss), five sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
DL — Mario Tackett, Wren, Sr.
Tackett totaled 89 tackles (21 for a loss), including 19 sacks, to go with three forced fumbles and two recoveries en route to an all-region selection.
DL — Kwashon Maddox, Pendleton, Jr.
An all-Region 1-2A selection as a defensive end, Maddox compiled 70 tackles (seven for a loss) and five sacks.
LB — Ben Boulware, T.L. Hanna, Sr.
Boulware, Hanna’s leading tackler since his sophomore season, amassed 174 tackles (10 for a loss), two sacks, three forced fumbles and two recoveries. The Clemson commit was an all-Region 1-4A selection and played in the Shrine Bowl.
LB — Kendall Joseph, B-HP, Jr.
Joseph made 129 tackles (six for a loss), blocked two kicks and caused three fumbles and was named to the all-Region 1-3A team.
LB — Adarius Williams, Westside, Sr.
The all-region choice finished with 113 tackles (22 for a loss), made three sacks and forced two fumbles.
LB — Pierre Davis, Seneca, Sr.
Led Seneca in tackles with 160 (17 for loss) and 11 sacks en route to all-Region 1-3A honors.
LB — Deletric Greenlee, Daniel, Sr.
Defenses ran away from the Clemson commit all season. The all-Region 1-3A selection finished with 65 tackles (three for a loss).
DB — Yasin Glanton, Daniel, Sr.
An all-region selection, Glanton led Daniel in interceptions with six, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and nine passes broken up to go with 47 tackles.
DB — Daulton Pilgrim, Daniel, Jr.
Pilgrim had five interceptions as a safety and had 89 tackles to earn all-region honors.
DB — Logan Wright, Wren, Sr.
The all-region selection picked off four passes, made 79 tackles and blocked two punts, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
DB — Octavious Rice, Pendleton, Jr.
Rice, who was named all-region, intercepted five passes, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and made 34 tackles.
P — Dalston Davis, Crescent, Jr.
A jack of all trades, Davis, an all-region selection, averaged 41 yards a punt. As a quarterback, he carried 103 times for 802 yards and nine touchdowns. Playing safety, he totaled 57 tackles (six for a loss) and four interceptions.