Dutch Fork heads to Boiling Springs for road opener
Before the cancelled season-opener against Mallard Creek, Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts questioned the motivation of his two-time defending Class 5A champions.
“Right now, I haven’t found it because right now they’re not very hungry,” Knotts said at the time. “I think it’s winning two in a row and that’s always the scary part of being successful. It can do one of two things – it can make you more hungry or it makes you complacent. Right now, it’s made our guys complacent and they don’t understand what it takes to stay on top of the mountain.”
Through two dominating performances to open the season, the Silver Foxes have apparently answered Knotts’s challenge. Winners of 14 straight, Dutch Fork has outscored its first two opponents Spring Valley and Irmo by a combined score of 121-0.
This Friday, the team heads on the road for the first time this season to face Boiling Springs (1-1). The contest is a rematch of the 2016 Class 5A championship game won by the Silver Foxes 28-21.
“I think we’re very hungry,” Knotts said Monday. “I was a little worried about it. We were very ready to play Mallard Creek (a game cancelled due to lightning and curfew concern) and then played well against Spring Valley and Irmo. This will be a different test this week with Boiling Springs. They’ve got a solid program. They’ve played two tough teams in Chapman (a 55-28 loss last week) and Westside (a 22-7 win Week 1). So, they’re like us. They’re playing a tough schedule and we expect to have our hands full with them.”
Dutch Fork’s offense has appeared to fire on all cylinders. It has amassed 1,148 yards in the first two games led by quarterback Ty Olenchuk (26-38 passing, 391 yards, 6 TDs).
His preferred targets – Jalin Hyatt and Gage Zirke – have combined for 23 receptions for 342 yards and seven TDs. Junior running back Ron Hoff has a team-high three touchdowns on the ground with Jonathan Hull the team rushing leader (202 yards, 2 TDs).
What’s impressed Knotts even more is the play of his defense. As a group, it has allowed just 12 first-downs, 175 total yards (131 passing, 44 rushing) and forced three turnovers.
“Our defense has just been exceptional,” Knotts said. “The (defensive) front starting with Trey Irby have just been phenomenal. We moved him to nose (tackle) which has enabled us to move last year’s nose (tackle) Jamar Walker to defensive end. He’s lost a little bit of weight and he’s playing good.
“We’ve got two solid linebackers. We’re a 3-4 team so all of our linebackers are solid, but Josiah Commander is a four-year starter. And then we’ve got a transfer, Lawson Danley (from River Bluff) in, who’s getting better every week. So that’s been a plus for us. Our outside linebackers, Anthony DeMasi and Jarvis McClurkin are playing great. And our secondary is anchored by Hugh Ryan and he’s been named captain this week again. We do it based on performance. So I think that’s 2-3 weeks in a row for Hugh.”
Knotts expects his defense to get tested by the Bulldogs’ spread offense. Despite coming off a loss to Chapman, Knotts said Boilings Springs will be “gunning for” Dutch Fork.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.