Week 3 Richland County high school football preview, by Tyler Cupp
RIVER BLUFF (3-0) AT LUGOFF-ELGIN (1-2)
The Gators’ opponents so far this season have a combined record of 1-8. That includes the three wins the Gators have against them of course. So it’s hard to tell if this Gator team which won nine games last season, is as good in 2019. Here’s what I do know, however. Braden Walker is back for his season year and his running all over opponents. He ran for 1,400 yards last season and will more than likely come close to that mark this year. They are well-coached and disciplined by Blair Hardin, too. He seems to be one of the new coaches on the rise in the palmetto state. I will say this too, the Gators seem to be much improved on defense just by looking at box scores. They have allowed a combined nine points (it was 40 total at this point last year) and shut out Pelion this past Friday. The key for LE will be stopping the run, which they have actually done very well doing. Outside of a few big runs by Camden’s Willis Lane in Week 1, LE has limited their other two opponents to und
er 80 yards rushing. If the Demons can force the pass, the River Bluff starting QB does not have much experience, he has only attempted 26 passes in three contests.
River Bluff won last year 28-18.
SPRING VALLEY (1-1) AT RICHLAND NORTHEAST (0-3)
I think a lot of people are hoping for Richland Northeast to turn things around. Even their opposing coach this Friday in Robin Bacon. The current Spring Valley coach was an alum and then assistant during the glory days of Cavalier football in the 90’s which included the 1993 state title. So you can imagine this rivalry means a lot to him on a lot of levels. He knows the struggle now more than ever with RNE, coaching in the same school district. Of course, the elephant in the room on the ‘recruitment’ of players and kids going from school to school has seemed to affect RNE just as bad as any in the area. It’s something the new coach will try to fix. William Richardson has the tough task of bringing RNE back from the depths and change the culture. The Cavs have not had a winning season since 2011. They have had a few .500 seasons since then but are only 4-16 the last two years. Richardson brings a winning attitude and passion. He helped West Lake out of Atlanta capture multiple region titles and make their deepest run in the postseason in years. But as two coaches I spoke two this week told me, in order to win at RNE its about being in it for the ‘long haul’ and ‘changing the culture will take time.’
RNE leads the all-time series 23-20. However, the last win in the series for the Cavaliers was 2011. Spring Valley has defeated RNE by a combined score of 88-7 the last two seasons.
NORTHWESTERN(0-3) AT RIDGE VIEW(1-1) Played at District 2 Stadium(Blythewood)
A once proud and powerhouse of a program, the Northwestern Trojans are in a rebuild. One of the pillars of “Football City, USA” the Northwestern Trojans have fallen on some hard times. But if anyone can help them get back to prominence,it’s their new coach in Page Wofford. He served as an assistant from 2012-2018 and helped lead the Trojans three state titles (2013-2015). But that was then, this is now. The Trojans are trying to avoid back to back 0-4 starts to begin a season. It may take some time for NW, but it should be noted Wofford doubled as a strength and conditioning guy, so his teams will certainly be less winded come crunch time.
The Ridge View Blazers got a much needed bye to work on some things. They did come off a win beating a very strong opponent in Wayne Hills (NJ). This Blazer team on defense is as talented and experienced as their is in the Midlands. They bring everybody back on that side of the ball. On offense, they are still working in some new players. I expect Cincere Scott to have a big game here at home. There’s no doubt the offensive coaches try to get him involved more. He’s an explosive receiver that can be utilized in a number of ways.
CHAPIN(2-0) AT NEWBERRY(1-1)
Bulldogs have been a little quiet to start season. They lost to powerhouse Abbeville, then got a close one point in over Batesburg. Phil Strickland has been doing it a long time in the state of SC, and has put together a Hall of Fame career. Even though this is a 5A vs a 3A, I expect a close game with two good defenses. Newberry leads the all-time series 17-7. Chapin won last year 37-22.
BLYTHEWOOD(2-1) AT NORTH AUGUSTA(2-1)
I’ll have my eye on this game for a few reasons. This is really the first true road game for the Bengals. two of their first three were at home with the other being down the street to cross town rival Westwood. Call it a reach, but some teams respond/react differently on the road to start the season. I’ve talked to coaches that tell me sometimes, depending on the team or group, they prefer going on the road. The kids get to see new places, surroundings, and play in different venues. Some may not think much of it, but in high school I think it’s always interesting to see how a team plays on the road to start the year. The Bengals have played fairly good defense so far this season and normally that part of your team travels well. I want to see how QB Josh Strickland and the Blythewood offense does on the road. They are still trying to establish the run early so let see how that pans out.
As for North Augusta, here’s an fascinating note (to me, at least). This will be the first opponent they have faced from the state of SC. Their first three games were played against teams from Georgia. Now, of course North Augusta is right on the state line, and all the schools they faced were within 30 minutes but still, kind of neat. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 10-win season. A very proud program. They defeated Blythewood last season 15-13.
CALHOUN COUNTY(1-1) AT FAIRFIELD CENTRAL(1-2)
Fairfield leads the all-time series 3-0 winning last year 36-26. It was one of the Griffins’ two wins last season. They can match that total with a victory on Friday. Waiting for this Griffin offense to hit stride. It could certainly happen here.
DREHER(0-3) AT EAU CLAIRE(0-3)
Something has gotta give for the Dreher Blue Devils and Eau Claire Shamrocks.. Both teams have struggled on offense in the first part of the season. Through three games of the season, Dreher has only scored 14 total points while Eau Claire has mustered just six. So one of these teams has to break through. Dreher’s head coach Treigh Sullivan has had success against the Shamrocks. In two games vs. Eau Claire his teams have outscored them 98-8. These teams just want to score, period. Dreher leads the all-time series 28-17.
FORT MILL AT CAMDEN (Military Appreciation Night)
LAMAR AT NORTH CENTRAL
WESTWOOD AT SOUTH AIKEN
FOX CREEK AT COLUMBIA
LOWER RICHLAND AT WILSON
BROOKLAND CAYCE AT IRMO
HAMMOND AT PINEWOOD PREP
AUGUSTA CHRISTIAN AT CARDINAL NEWMAN