High school football weekly preview, by Tyler Cupp
CHAPIN (4-3, 1-2) AT LEXINGTON (4-3, 1-1)
A lot of history, pride and heritage on the field Friday night when the Wildcats come to Chapin. Lexington Coach Perry Woolbright will be walking into a stadium that is named after his grandfather. And coaching against a program where his father was a hall-of-famer. Cecil B. Woolbright as a coach went 111-35 taking Chapin to four state title games, winning two of those. His son Marty is maybe the greatest Chapin Eagle of all-time and highly regarded as one of the best athletes to ever come out of the Palmetto state. Marty went all state in multiple sports including basketball where he won a title averaging 31 points per game. He was also a three-year letterman at the University of South Carolina. His brothers, Rex and Roger also were football stars making the Shrine Bowl. But maybe the greatest honor of all, is being one of two Chapin players with their jersey retired. The other being Dewayne Wise. So after saying all that, it’s got to be quite the honor and almost surreal for Perry to walk into a stadium with all of his family history.
But much is on the line in this game. The winner most likely finishes 3rd in the region and makes the playoffs. I am not entirely sure the loser would still make it with an at-large bid although it is possible. So a lot is on the line. One thing that does not bode well for Chapin is an interesting stat involving Dutch Fork. Teams coming off a loss to Dutch Fork are a perfect 7-0 the next week.
Series note: First meeting between the two teams in 20 years which kind of blows my mind. Yet another match up in the Midlands where the teams are separated by less than 20 miles yet have not played each other in quite some time for whatever the reason. That’s probably due in large part to Chapin being a smaller school for many years until now.
LUGOFF-ELGIN (0-9, 0-3) AT BLYTHEWOOD (5-2, 1-1)
Some interesting things on the line here. For the Demons, it’s the regular season finale and with them winless on the year, that means one last chance to grab that all-elusive win. The Bengals are playing for a chance to finish second in the region after losing to Sumter last week. So could the Demons play spoiler to Blythewood? Playing a team with nothing to lose and everything to spoil can be a dangerous foe and the Bengals no doubt realize that. Lugoff is coming off its best offensive performance where both their tailbacks, Randall Brown and Tyler Dixon, eclipsed 100 yards. They ran a three back set which I’m sure will stay the same this week. The Bengals on the other hand are coming off a somewhat stagnant offensive game vs Sumter. Jaylon Boyd (699 yards, 10 TD) only mustered 32 on the ground vs. the Gamecock defense. And speaking of defense, this Blythewood D has not got enough credit in my opinion. Talking with some coaches about them, including LE coach Matt Campbell, they tell the biggest weakness on film, is almost a strength for them in a way. The fact that they are not overly big or huge, allows them to be more dynamic with athletic guys who can play both defensive end and linebacker. Players like Patrick Godbolt who I have mentioned in my previous articles are a perfect example of that. He’s a guy that could line up at both and matched up where ever he needs. He is second on the team in total tackles (43) but leads the team in tackles for loss with 13, and sacks with 6.5.
Series note: The Demons have never beaten Blythewood in seven tries. They played twice back in 2006 which was the first season of varsity football for the Bengals. I was there for both. They played in the second round of the playoffs which ended up being a 17-7 with Blythewood later winning the state title that year. The head coach that year was Jeff Scott who now works on the Clemson Tigers coaching staff.
SPRING VALLEY (5-2, 1-1) AT SUMTER (7-0, 3-0)
Big time clash here in region play as the Spring Valley Vikings tangle with the undefeated Sumter Fighting Gamecocks. It’s always interesting to see a team face a triple option attack like Spring Valley and how they react to it. Depending on personnel, coaching and discipline, it could be just another night, or catch them off guard. After seeing this Sumter defense, I think they will be fine but you never really know. Their linebacking core is one of the best I have seen this season and those guys will be tested big time against the Vikings triple option in that its all about playing assignment football. As for the Spring Valley defense, they certainly have the talent to slow down Sumter. But will they, is the question. It might be the biggest O-line Spring Valley has seen considering there are two D-1 commits for Sumter at tackle. I also think if SV can force the Gamecocks to be one dimensional in the passing game they could have a good chance at keeping it close and pulling upset. With the way they run offense at SV, the ball control in that triple option will also keep them in it.
Notes and players to watch: I was really impressed with Otru-Ntu Nikiri (70 tackles) when I saw him a few weeks ago. He could be an x-factor. Max Shropshire (four sacks) is also a guy that could play a role. But Alex Herrera who punts, kicks and plays QB might be the most crucial. Whenever you have a close game like this on paper, a good kicker that can flip the field on punts, and kick long field goals is super valuable to have.
AC FLORA (5-2, 3-0) VS LOWER RICHLAND (4-4, 3-0)
If you were to tell me that LR vs AC Flora in late October had 1st place on the line, I am not sure many would have believed you. Don’t get me wrong, both teams certainly belong here. And I think it is an absolute testament to the coaches on the sidelines. After not winning a game in 2017, the Falcons have reeled off five in a row heading into this one. And LR had one of the best seasons in program history last year making a deep run into the playoffs. Their best season since the mid 90’s. Rodney Barr has got his team believing after so many years of below average results, yet LR has always had great athletes. They have seemed to finally put it together. He is proving that last year wasn’t a fluke at all, even though they were led by a talented senior group. This year, the Diamond Hornets have a dynamic duo of wide outs who give secondaries all types of problems. Jamal Henderson and Quanta Jackson have combined for nearly 1000 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. For AC Flora, talent was not the issue. A new coach, a new system and scheme took a little longer than normal for the kids to believe in it seems. On the surface that’s what it felt like anyway. Guys like Dewey Greene, Matthew Jamison and Quincey Riley have been the backbone of the success and have broken through for a turnaround year.
Series note: 35th all time meeting. LR leads the series 20-14. Before losing last year 40-14, Flora had won eight in a row vs LR. The first meeting dates back to 1959.
RIVER BLUFF (6-1, 1-1) AT WHITE KNOLL (4-4, 0-2)
Could be a lot of points scored in this one. White Knoll is in a real tough spot here as they have two games left with River Bluff and Dutch Fork to end the year. As for River Bluff, they too have a tough slate left but should be slightly favored here on the road vs the T-wolves. The Gators will rely on that running game as Braden Walker is coming off his second 300 yard rushing game of the season. Got to interview him on a radio show this week and he sounds like a great level headed, grounded kid. When asked about the team’s success under second year head coach Blair Hardin, he said it’s all about the kids finally buying in and committing to the game plan. Sometimes it is just that simple, execute what the coaches put in play and commit each and every week. Seems like River Bluff has no doubt done that, going from winning two games last year, to now having a chance to win nine and maybe more with post season.
White Knoll has struggled to find anyone to produce outside of their outstanding QB and RB combo. Aveon Smith and Jamias Holloway have combined for 26 total TDs on the season. But if they have any success against River Bluff Friday, it’s going to have to rely on their defense. Stopping or even slowing down Walker and Antonio Gantt will be the key.
Best of the rest
HAMMOND AT CARDINAL NEWMAN
Cardinal Newman is having its best season since 2013. They take on powerhouse Hammond on Friday night. When I look at the stats and numbers each week, Dima Daley of Cardinal Newman always stands out. He has 10.5 sacks on the season. So the matchup between him and QB Jackson Muschamp (1800 yards 24 TDs) should be fun. The opposing quarterback AJ DePalma is also having a good season with 1100 yards and nine scores. And of course when you talk about the Skyhawks you have to mention Jordan Burch. One of the best talents in the state at defensive end.
LAKEWOOD (3-4, 0-3) AT DREHER (4-3, 2-1)
I have not forgotten about Dreher. Even though the Flora and LR are clashing, the Blue Devils are still playing for a ton. If Dreher can take care of a struggling Lakewood team, they would have a chance for a home playoff game. Dreher plays rival AC Flora next week. DaDa Washington is coming on at the right time at running back for Dreher. He has racked up over a 1000 yards rushing, and 11 touchdown. If you have a back averaging 6.5 yards a carry, that’s a weapon in any scheme or offense. Also, Ryan Campbell is completing 63 percent of his passes with only three interceptions. Pretty good ratio in high school football.
EAU CLAIRE (3-4, 0-2) AT GRAY COLLEGIATE (4-4, 2-0)
The War Eagles can just about clinch the region with a win here. It would be the first region championship in school history.
INDIANLAND AT CAMDEN (6-2, 1-1)
Camden may have lost last week to Chester but a lot is still riding on the Bulldogs final two games. If they are to win out, they would host a playoff game for the first time since 2010. Bulldogs are hoping Fairfield Central plays spoilers and beats Chester which would create a three way tie for first place in division.
EDISTO AT GILBERT
BROOKLAND-CAYCE AT AIKEN
SOUTH AIKEN AT AIRPORT
WESTWOOD AT LANCASTER
RIDGE VIEW AT SOUTH POINTE
YORK AT RNE(Harry Parone Stadium)