Dutch Fork a win away from immortality
State championship games have become somewhat expected for Dutch Fork High School football.
After all, the two-time defending Class 5A champions are making their third straight trip to Williams-Brice Stadium and fifth in the past six seasons. It also marks the second time in three years the Silver Foxes will enter the contest with an undefeated record.
Achieving perfection again and “three-peating” are just part of the major story line for Dutch Fork. A win over fellow unbeaten T.L. Hanna would also arguably secure Dutch Fork’s place as one of the best teams in South Carolina High School League football history.
The numbers during the Silver Foxes’ run the past three seasons speak for themselves:
•24-game overall winning streak
•19 games holding teams under 10 points
•18 straight road wins
•17 games scoring 50 or more points
•16-0 in region play
•8 games with 60 or more points
•Outscored teams 712-112 this season
“This is probably the best offensive team I’ve ever seen,” T.L. Hanna head coach Jeff Herron said. “And then, the defense is just as good. They just don’t get as talked about as much and they’ve got a sound kicking game. So, for us, this is new.”
Standing in the way of Dutch Fork’s place in history is a formidable Yellow Jackets’ squad which sports a 14-0 record. A year after getting stunned at home in the second round by Greenwood despite an 11-0 record, T.L. Hanna has posted numbers similar to the Silver Foxes:
•Outscoring teams 682-194 this season
•Holding 14 opponents under 10 points the past two seasons
11-0 in region play the last two seasons
•9 games with 50 or more points the past two seasons
Add a challenging wing-T offense sparked by 6-5, 265-pound running back and University of South Carolina defensive lineman commit Zacch Pickens (854 rushing yards) and quarterback Alex Meredith (34-47 passing, 708 yards, 12 TDs) and Knotts acknowledges this will probably be Dutch Fork’s toughest opponent to date.
“We are going to put bigger guys in our tackling drills,” said Knotts, who picked up his 400th career win last Friday. “We’ll be wrapping up some of our lineman who’ll get to carry the ball… in our tackling drill and simulate that big load coming through.”
Dutch Fork counters with an offensive load of its own led by quarterback Ty Olenchuk.The former linebacker and Clemson University baseball commit has thrown for 3,509 yards and 39 touchdowns, the bulk of which have been caught by wide receivers Gage Zirke (74 receptions, 1,504 yards, 14 TDs) and Jalin Hyatt (66 receptions, 1,230 yards, 19 TDs).
There’s also the junior backfield of Ron Hoff (1,027 yards, 23 TDs) and Jonathan Hall (844 yards, 11 TDs).
Hoff has especially played well at Williams-Brice Stadium with four touchdowns and over 200 rushing yards.
Kickoff was originally scheduled for Saturday. It will now take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The game will be streamed at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/schsl, www.wach57.com and the WACH 57 phone app and shown on Spectrum TV (WACH 57.2/Channel 1250).