High school football weekly preview, by Tyler Cupp
Finally, back to football. After Hurricane Florence made its way to the coast and into the Carolinas, high school football obviously became an afterthought. But now, the state moves on and resumes play. With the ruling earlier this week from the South Carolina High School League to extend the season and push it back, this upcoming slate will be the final tune-up for most teams before region play. It was widely agreed that the League made the right call.
My personal opinion is that the SCHSL obviously did the right thing here. There is no doubt about that. Even though places like Conway and the grand strand are still out of school as of today, this was the right move. Some teams may have to play twice in a week depending on if they are still out of school. But most are back to normal schedule from what I understand. This really affects the teams that were supposed to start region play last week which included a lot of schools.
Additionally, I think some teams may or may not make up their previously scheduled non-region game in that extra week. For example, Camden was set to play West Florence and Chapin was to play Spring Valley last week. They don’t necessarily have to play those games but with a final week added, they have the option. There are two ways of thinking on those games: you could play some younger players or JVs and get the gate money of attendance for your program, or cancel it altogether to save from any injuries. I think most would understand either way. Also, some teams could even play on a Thursday night, then go scout their potential playoff opponents on that Friday in the final week.
WHITE KNOLL 48 GRAY COLLEGIATE 0 (Wednesday night)
Wednesday night football got underway at White Knoll as the T-wolves knocked off the War Eagles. Aveon Smith for White Knoll has accounted for 20 total touchdowns in just five games so far this season. The T-Wolves are off to a great 4-1 start. This was exactly what they needed before they head into a brutal region next week. Gray Collegiate will have an even tougher test as they take on top ranked Lamar next Friday.
RIVER BLUFF(4-0) AT GILBERT(3-1)
Fun game on deck here. Lot of offensive firepower on both sides. Gilbert averages 32.5 points per game while River Bluff is one of the tops in the Midlands with 45.5 points per. The Gators primarily keep it on the ground with Braden Walker who has nearly 600 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns. The Indians however, are a bit more balanced. Even with a two quarterback system, Josh Strickland leads with his 390 passing yards and five scores while on the ground they get good production from DeAndre Cook who has scored eight times this year. I think whoever can come up on defense and make a play in the second half could win this game. One big turnover could change and give all the momentum to one of these efficient offenses. I really don’t see the classification gap being an issue here either. It could go down to the wire
SPRING VALLEY (2-1) AT LEXINGTON (3-1)
Series notes: Its the 37th meeting with Spring Valley owning the edge 22-14. The teams have played consecutively since 1978 minus the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Vikings have won four in a row including last year 20-7.
A battle of two good defenses get underway to start region 5-5A play. The Vikings have one of the best secondaries in the Midlands while Lexington just seems to be one of the more solid all around units in the area. I think that secondary of SV vs the young sophomore QB Cam Hernon (600 total yards 8 TDs) could be the matchup to watch. Talking to a coach who watched some recent film on the Vikings, he told me their defensive line has improved as well. If the Wildcats can get something going on the ground with Akeem Nicholas (500 yards this season) to take pressure off the QB, they may have some success. The Viking offense was getting in a pretty good rhythm having scored 49 and 43 points in back to back weeks, so we will see if Lexington can slow down this triple option attack.
FAIRFIELD CENTRAL(1-4) AT WESTWOOD(3-0)
Big game here for both teams. The Griffins are off to one of their worst starts in a long time, but they have been improving each week. They came within a two point conversion with under a minute to tie up a very good Newberry team. I think the Griffins may have found something on offense recently with Will Barber at running back. With a young QB under center, Barber has rushed for over 400 yards and three scores this season. As for Westwood, they got some extended off time with the threat of Hurricane Florence. Because their bye week fell on the 7th, the Redhawks have not played a game since August 31st. So it will be interesting to see if there is any rust coming out after two weeks off. This Redhawk defense has yet to be tested really. After seeing them in the jamboree and week 0, I personally think they are pretty solid. They have only allowed 33 points through three games played. And on offense, they have two of the best duos of receivers in the Midlands in Christian Horn and Cortes Braham. They have helped QB Ahmon Green pass for 500 yards and nine touchdowns.
AC FLORA (1-2) AT CHAPIN (3-0)
Series notes: Chapin leads the all-time series 5-3. The two teams started playing in 2008.
Chapin took last year’s meeting 43-0. And Chapin will be favored again here in this one. The Eagles really impressed with that big win over Newberry in their last game. They keep building confidence in their young offensive line and defense. The Falcons are also flying high after their first win in over a year. They may have found something on offense after scoring 45 points vs Columbia their last time out. Falcons will need to play turnover free against Chapin. I’ll lean the Eagles here but the Falcons may come out much differently having their first win in a while under their belts.
NORTHWESTERN (0-4) AT DUTCH FORK (3-0)
Now, before the season, this game looked much better on paper. But four weeks in, the Trojans are reeling. And they are certainly not the team we may have thought they were. The last time Northwestern started the season 0-4 was back in 2009. Tough times have hit one of the traditional powers of the state and it’s not going to get any easier Friday in Ballentine. The Silver Foxes have been dominant each and every week. It’s almost intriguing to see just how dominant they are in every game. Northwestern has not been impressive at all on offense. Talking to some media up there, they told me folks are really frustrated with the rough start to the season. And it probably won’t turn around this week, unfortunately for them.
BEAUFORT(3-1) AT BLYTHEWOOD (3-1)
Former Gamecock and now Beaufort High head coach DeVonte Holloman returns to the Columbia area as he brings his Eagles to Blythewood. Holloman also played his high school football here in the state having been on a South Pointe Stallion team that would win a state championship. He was alongside another former Gamecock Stephon Gilmore. Hollomon unfortunately had his NFL career cut short with an injury known as spinal stenosis. He is one of, if not the youngest, SC head coach in high school football at 27. He served as the team’s defensive coordinator the previous two seasons. In terms of the game itself, it’s hard to know what to expect from them. I have actually seen Beaufort two out of the last three years and their kids play smart, and get after it. They may not be the fastest or strongest but they were solid top to bottom, and a well-disciplined club. For the Bengals, Blythewood could really use another win to give them momentum before they begin region play. Jaylon Boyd (442 yards, 7 TD) will be heavily depended upon in the run game. I expect him to play a factor.
EAU CLAIRE(2-2) AT ALLENDALE-FAIRFAX(0-3)
Shamrocks have a real good chance to get their third win of the season here vs the Tigers. Eau Claire needs some momentum going into region, too. Ron Davis Jr. currently leads the Midlands in defensive tackles with 68. The last time Eau Claire won three games in a season was 2015.
Other games Friday
LOWER RICHLAND AT AIRPORT
IRMO AT CLOVER
PELION VS COLUMBIA (at Benedict College)
LUGOFF-ELGIN AT ROCK HILL
CAMDEN AT RICHLAND NORTHEAST(HARRY PARONE STADIUM)