PLAYOFFS: Pinckney playing big role
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tylando Pinckney is nowhere near the biggest guy on the football field, but one wouldn’t know it by watching him play.
The senior linebacker is South Central’s leading tackler and one of the defensive leaders for a fourth-seeded Falcons team that will play Friday night at top seed Scotland County in the third round of the 4-A playoffs.
Pinckney carries 180 pounds on just a 5-foot-5 frame, a jarring lack of size at a position usually reserved for bigger, stronger players. His performance, though, far outweighs his stature.
“I joke with him that he wears No. 55, and that’s because he might be 5-5,” SC coach Andy Tew said. “I told him I wish we could have put him in (No.) 65, but I guess big things come in small packages. I was anxious about his size, but he doesn’t play like a little guy.”
Pinckney made 11 tackles and recovered a pair of fumbles in SC’s 64-36 win over Knightdale last week in the second round of the playoffs. It was his seventh game of the year with at least 10 tackles, with a high of 20 in a win last month against C.B. Aycock. For the season, he has racked up 140 tackles, nearly twice that of second-leading tackler Khamaz Waller (75).
Without the size of a traditional linebacker, the second-year varsity starter had to find his niche with the Falcons in order to be successful.
“I just try to use more of my speed and explosiveness instead of strength and size,” Pinckney said. “Just getting on the same page as the D-line (has also helped) because they’re a real big part. They’re able to cause havoc in the backfield and that allows me to be able to get back there too.”
Pinckney boasts a 4.5-second 40-yard dash time, speed more befitting a running back than a linebacker. That speed combined with his ability to evade blocks and finish tackles has helped turned him into one of SC’s defensive standouts.
That defense will face a stiff test in Scotland County, a team that averages nearly 400 rushing yards and 50.8 points per game. The Scots’ offense took a blow this week, though, with the news that running back Zamir White — the nation’s No. 1 recruit at that position and a Georgia commit — suffered a torn ACL in the second round and is out for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Falcons have an explosive offense of their own that averages 52.5 points per game. With all the attention that offense has gotten this season, SC’s defenders have had the luxury of being able to pin their ears back and simply focus on doing their job, a situation Pinckney said has made the season more fun.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that we don’t have to rely on causing a bunch of turnovers or stuff like that,” he said. “We know that if we get the ball to the offense, it’s going down.”
Pinckney had planned on going to help his mother get their Thanksgiving turkey Thursday, but those plans had to be altered thanks to South Central’s season extending into the holiday week.
“Now she’s going to have to do it by herself,” Pinckney said, laughing. “But she understands.”
Indeed, the Falcons will spend Thanksgiving morning partaking in their usual Thursday walkthrough, a first for the program and for head coach Andy Tew, who experienced it as a player at Farmville Central.
"I’ve never coached in this situation but I have played in this situation so I know the mystique of a Thanksgiving practice, and I was thrilled to be able to get in this scenario and be able to take these guys to it,” Tew said.
Tew said his plan is to get his players in about 8:30 a.m. with the goal of having them disperse by 10 a.m. to spend the holiday with their families. He said he has spoken this week with coaching comrades who have led Thanksgiving Day practices in an effort to better hone his plan for having his players on the field in a unique situation.
“It’ll be exciting but there will still be some mental preparation,” he said. “It’s about being organized and making sure we have a good practice, and making sure everybody is enjoying the situation and understands the gravity of the situation. ... I’ve talked to some other coaches who have been in this situation before and asked them what’s the best way to handle it, and they all said enjoy the moment, make it about the kids and make sure they understand and enjoy how much of a big deal this is.”
Contact Jordan Anders at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.
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