High school football playoff preview, by Tyler Cupp
The second round of playoffs are upon us. Here is a look at the match ups involving Midlands teams in our area.
WEST ASHLEY AT DUTCH FORK
The Silver Foxes are now 18th in USA Today’s Super 25. Dutch Fork should have no problem with West Ashley here but watch for Jalin Hyatt to have a big game. He needs a little over 70 yards to surpass a thousand on the season. With Gage Zirke having already reached that mark, it would be the first time in school history that two wide outs would have that. Hyatt also received an offer to play for Michigan this week. He’s getting offers every other week it seems now. The streak for DF is up to 21 games in a row. After a second look at the bracket, I’m not sure they are challenged until they face the winner out of the Upper St. Hard to see anyone in the Lower State giving them a game.
CAMDEN AT CHAPMAN
The Bulldogs had one of the most dominant wins last week defeating Seneca 52-10. They rolled up over 400 yards on the ground. And that very well may be the key to defeating Chapman Friday. Last week in Chapman’s 36-24 win over Emerald, they actually trailed in the third quarter. The Vikings had 500 yards rushing. Camden can run the football as good as anyone in the state and may have a chance to limit the possessions of the Panthers.
Chapman has been one of the better 3A programs in the last few years appearing in the last two state championship games winning back in 2016. This is a rematch from that same year when Chapman won 77-61. Video game-like numbers put up in that game.
WESTWOOD AT RIDGE VIEW (RICHLAND DISTRICT 2 STADIUM IN BLYTHEWOOD)
Region rivals clash for the second time this season in week two of high school football playoffs. The Redhawks and Blazers are separated by less than 10 miles from one another and this is practically a home game for both teams considering Westwood is in Blythewood. You would think this game will be much different from their first meeting back in early October, a 28-7 win for Ridge View. But one thing is for sure, these teams are coming off two of the most impressive wins in all the postseason last week as Westwood held number one seed Belton-Honea Path to just three points and RV rolled over Traveler’s Rest 76-0. The Redhawk defense has three straight after a four-game skid. In those games they have allowed just six total points. JaVon Anderson and Walyn Napper have become quite the dynamic duo for RV and it will be very interesting to see against a rejuvenated Westwood secondary featuring University of SC commit Cam Smith.
The unstoppable force vs. the immovable object as the Redhawk defense faces the high powered RV offense. The Blazers are 4-3 all-time vs. the Redhawks
NORTH CENTRAL AT ABBEVILLE
After winning their first playoff game in 20 years, the Knights head up to Abbeville to face the top seeded Panthers. This is a game I will be calling locally for the radio and I’m just not sure what to expect. In terms of a football town, they tell me Abbeville shuts down and turns the lights off at 6:00 and cranks up the football at 7. As for the game itself, Abbeville is one of the best programs in the state. They have won 31 straight at home and the locals are telling me this is the best Panther team since the 1996 squad, which to them is regarded as the best ever. Abbeville is the defending champ in 2A.
GILBERT AT MAY RIVER
One of the most interesting games of the week for me here. The Gilbert Indians who are one of the best offenses in the area head on the road to take on the undefeated May River Sharks. The Sharks are coached by a familiar face in Rodney Summers. He started the Westwood football program back in 2012 before starting May River in 2016. Summers has another Midlands connection, as he is a Lugoff-Elgin Demon alum. The Sharks won their first playoff game in school history last week
SWANSEA AT DILLON
After winning its first playoff game since 2014, Swansea heads to play top seed Dillon. One of the best programs regardless of classification, Dillon has won seven state championships in the last nine years. And just like Dutch Fork, they have a streak of their own, winning 24 straight. They have one of the best defensive units in the state too. I have always felt like Coach Jackie Hayes and Dillon don’t get enough respect, for whatever the reason. This 10 year run they are on is pretty spectacular.
RIVER BLUFF AT BERKLEY
Another very intriguing match up takes place in the low country. After setting a school record in wins, the Gators travel to play the Stags. This is another battle of two 10 teams in 5A and could be interesting to see if it’s low scoring. River Bluff is hoping to have their top rusher and offensive skill player Braden Walker back from injury. He missed last week due to an ankle injury.
WREN AT AC FLORA
The Falcons are looking for their first 10 win since 2014. They welcome in a Mr. Football candidate in Tyrell Jenkins who has thrown for over 3500 yards and 40 touchdowns. Quincy Riley and the Flora secondary are going to have their hands full with that. The Falcons proved last week however, that they are indeed for real defeating a very good team in Lancaster.
BROOKLAND-CAYCE AT HARTSVILLE
If anyone can go score-for-score with Hartsville, it’s the BC Bearcats. Reed Charpia has thrown for over 3500 yards and this offense has scored in bunches with the best of them this year. Coach Rusty Charpia’s Bearcats are coming off a crazy game in which it took five hours to finish a win over Beaufort. There was a weather delay with about three minutes left in the game and didn’t finish until after midnight. Hartsville is a program that may not look great in the regular season, even in wins, but they always seem to turn it on during the post season. They have appeared in the state title game three of the last four years. But there is this one stat that stands out above all this week, and every week until someone changes it. Hartsville has not lost a home game in KellyTown since October of 2011.