High school football weekly preview, by Tyler Cupp

Sword & Saber trophy. Photos by GoFlashWin and Jack Crayne photography.

One of the more underrated and long going rivalries in the Midlands, these two schools have met every year dating back to 1978. The last win for the Cavs in the series came when they won back to back meetings in 2010-2011. This game is always a special one for Robin Bacon as he started coaching at RNE in the early 90’s. His brother Bill, who is at LE as an assistant, also coached on the staff. RNE of course is a split from Spring Valley. And what’s even more interesting is that schools like Ridge View, Blythewood and Westwood drew from both SV and RNE in their first years of football. As for the game this year, Bennett Weigle should be quite familiar with Robin Bacons triple option attack.
Series Notes: RNE leads the all-time series 23-19. Spring Valley won last year’s game 45-7. Nine out of the last 16 meetings have been within 7 points or less. The Battle for the Sword & Saber Trophy will take place at Harry Parone Stadium at Spring Valley.

NEWBERRY (1-1) AT CHAPIN (2-0) – 8pm Start
Two schools located in unique towns meet off Columbia Avenue at Chapin High. Both Chapin and Newberry share a lot of different ties. They are connected by both I-26 and Hwy 76, and have very strong athletic tradition and history. The way you get to the schools off the interstate are almost identical as both are on the main drags going into the respective towns. Many Chapin alumni ended up going to Newberry College while many folks who graduated Newberry High School actually live either in or around the town of Chapin. As for the football rivalry itself, Newberry Bulldog Coach Phil Strickland is very familiar with the Eagles. Chapin fans might even say he has been a thorn in the side of the Eagles. He has coached against them the past seven seasons with Newberry and also for a decade when he was at Batesburg-Leesville from 1992-2002. Strickland is 13-3 in his career vs Chapin in that time span. But it’s not all about the coach. Chapin is riding high after a 2-0 start and has played rather well on defense out the gate holding both their opponents to under 20 points. I also think Chapin has a really solid QB in Roger Pedroni who really impressed me with his decision making. The offensive line is young but really big up front for them. The match up to watch here, however will probably be the Chapin defensive front vs the Newberry rushing attack. The Bulldogs are always prone to that, and establish that as a heavy part of the offense.

This is no doubt one of my games of the week. You have some star power, good head coaches, and athletic tradition with these two. One side you have the Wake Forest commit Kendrell Flowers for Irmo and then QB Reed Charpia for Brookland-Cayce on the other side. The key here may very well be who steps up and makes a stop on defense. If this thing becomes a shootout I’m not even quite sure who that benefits, as both offenses can score pretty well. Curious too how both teams respond after tough losses. Irmo lost a shutout to Dutch Fork while B-C fell to Spring Valley on the road by double digits. It’s been since 23 years since these two schools have played against each other. Just guessing, but it is probably due in part to the size of the schools. Irmo has been a 4A then 5A while B-C has been smaller. The teams also have a lot more natural rivals closer to them, as well.
Series notes: The last time these two schools met was way back in 1995. The teams played consecutively from 73-95. Irmo leads the all-time series 21-2.

Two teams that are headed in different directions it seems. The Demons of Lugoff-Elgin are reeling after another tough loss while the Gators of River Bluff might be the surprise of the Midlands thus far. The Gators three wins are already more than they won all of last season. They have scored 60 points in two of those wins. One interesting stat however, is that the combined record of those Gator opponents(including the losses to RB) is 1-7. From videos and readings I have noticed that Coach Blair Hardin at River Bluff has really stressed strength and conditioning while also being strict on fundamentals.Even in their 3-8 campaign last year, I remember being impressed with RB’s special teams. Sometimes even the smallest parts of the game can keep you competitive.
I do expect LE to slow down the Gators rushing attack a little, at least in the first half. But the offense for the Demons has to sustain some drives. If they are unable to run the ball or even stretch the field, the defense will get gassed like they did last week against Chapin. If the tailbacks of LE can get loose, they will have immediate success. Speaking of success in the ground game, the Gators might boast the best tandem in the Midlands so far. River Bluff and that rushing attack has almost become an avalanche down hill, and just gets harder to stop as the game goes on. Antonio Gantt and Braden Walker have performed really well. The two have combined for nearly 800 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
The teams have exchanged wins the last two seasons with River Bluff taking last year’s game 45-20. LE won in 2016.

This could be a sneaky good game here between old conference rivals. The Thoroughbreds of South Aiken have had quite the string of success in athletics the last two years going 21-5 with a couple of deep playoff runs. Outside of football, they have been very good in baseball and basketball, too. I have seen the T-Breds a few times during that span and really respect that coach/program. This will be yet another good test for the Wildcats defense and even their sophomore QB Cal Herndon. I’ll be interested to see if he can keep up this outstanding play while also not turning the ball over. One Wildcat defender to watch will be Tristan Allen at corner. He’s got four interceptions already this season.
Series Notes:Lexington leads the all-time series 16-6. The teams shared a region from 1992-2015

Quick Hits

The Knights are feeling a lot of confidence after a 61 point performance vs Mcbee. It was the most points scored by North Central since 1997. Markell Portee even leads the Midlands in receiving touchdowns with six so far this year. The Knights have a big non-conference test and somewhat of a measuring stick game against perennial 1A power Lamar.
Another long standing series in Columbia. These inner-city area schools have played consecutively since 1971 missing only the 2003 season. Keenan leads the all-time series 32-18.

First true road test for Dutch Fork as they travel to Spartanburg to play the Bulldogs. The Silver Foxes also were ranked in the top 25 USA Today High School Football poll this week nationally. So they are certainly hoping to raise that this week. Historically, Boiling Springs has been known to put up points. Could they be the first team to score a touchdown this season against the DF defense?

Gilbert leads the all-time series 4-2. The teams have played consecutively since 2012. I expect the Gilbert offense to get back on track here.

A series that dates back to 1958. The Panthers of B-L lead it 33-9.


Best of the Rest
Thursday night the action gets started with Ridge View at Northwestern.
Also on Thursday, Dreher plays Eau Claire at District Stadium at Keenan.The Blue Devils and Shamrocks first started playing in 1954. Dreher leads the all-time series 25-17.

Friday games:
Ben Lippen at First Baptist
Cardinal Newman at Augusta Christian
Fairfield Central at Calhoun County
Laurence Manning at Heathwood Hall
Lower Richland vs. Wilson at Benedict College
North Augusta at Blythewood
Oceanside vs. Gray Collegiate at S.C. State
Palmetto at WW King
Pinewood Prep at Hammond
Richard Winn at Beaufort Academy
Saluda at Pelion
Swansea at Wade Hampton (H)

Some of the numbers provided are from scfootballhistory.com

Categories: Batesburg-Leesville, Blythewood, Chapin, Columbia, Irmo, Lexington, Lexington County, Richland County, Sports