5 Things to Watch in Week 1
Landrum opens the season this Friday against the Blue Ridge Fighting Tigers, who are coming off of a 42-0 loss to Belton-Honea Path in week zero. The big question for the Cardinals entering week one is the inexperience at quarterback. Last season’s quarterback decided to give up football to focus on other sports leaving them with literally no varsity experience at the position. It’s still up in the air who will get the start for the Cardinals, but whoever Coach Farmer decides on probably won’t be asked to carry the team with his arm. Blue Ridge managed just 8 first downs last week, so they’re not exactly a powerhouse offensively. That’s why I think Landrum goes heavy on the run and leans on their defense, especially early in the season. Whoever gets the nod to go under center should be fine this week, as long as they limit the mistakes. A win to open the season would give this young team some much needed confidence moving forward.
Can Boiling Springs start strong?
The Bulldogs begin the season with a road game against the Ashley Ridge Swamp Foxes. Despite losing 16 starters off last year’s region championship team, Coach Rick Tate is confident his guys can compete at a championship level again this season. The Bulldogs had a good bit of success in 7-on-7 tournaments throughout the offseason, and hope that translates into the fall. With a quarterback who can do damage on the ground as well as with his arm, I don’t expect them to have a problem putting up points in week one. They still have plenty of speed at the skill positions and should be able to find and exploit some mismatches on the outside. I expect Boiling Springs to jump out of the gate quick, and keep the pressure on. Don’t be surprised if they drop 40 plus points on the Swamp Foxes en route to their first win of the year.
Is Byrnes back?
The Reggie Shaw era at Byrnes started with a bang, as the Rebels stomped Myrtle Beach by a score of 51-0. Even though the scoreboard resembled the Rebels of old, I’m not sold on them just yet. While Myrtle Beach looked completely outmatched, I fully expect Byrnes to have a much more difficult time this week on the road at Greer. As always the Yellow Jackets have a bruising rushing attack, with two running backs combining for over 200 total yards from scrimmage in a win last Friday. This game will be a much better measuring stick for the Rebels to see where they stack up against tougher competition. The key to this game is the Strike Force defense. I expect Byrnes to stack the box and try and force Greer into passing situations. That’s easier said than done as both Qua White and Dre Williams have the ability to take it the distance on any given play. I look for this one to go down to the wire, and if the Rebels leave Greer with a victory, they will have made a believer out of me.
How do the 5A teams respond to tough losses?
While Byrnes cruised in week zero, things didn’t go as well for the rest of the region. Dorman held their own against Fort Dorchester before fading in the second half, Gaffney’s come from behind bid against T.L. Hanna fell a two-point conversion short, and Spartanburg lost on the road to Summerville by one point 41-40. This week all three have tough matchups, but all three are winnable. Gaffney hosts Union and I don’t expect the Indians to have much trouble getting in the win column. Dorman takes on a Northwestern team coming off of a big loss to powerhouse South Pointe. Early season injuries hurt the Cavs last week, as lack of depth on the defense showed on a hot and muggy night (playing against Dakereon Joyner didn’t help either). This game could go either way but if Dorman can run the ball and control the clock like they did in the first half last week, I see Coach Gutshall adding another win to his already impressive record. The biggest challenge will be for the Vikings. Spartanburg takes on T.L. Hanna but will be missing several players due to suspension. Last week against Summerville, a fight broke out and suspensions were handed out on both sides. Spartanburg was vulnerable against the run and I don’t think they’ll be able to fix that this week against a T.L. Hanna team that upset Gaffney in week zero. Don’t be shocked if Coach Miller’s squad starts the season 0-2.
Can Woodruff’s defense stop anybody?
Keegan Holloran and the Wolverines offense looked just as good as expected in putting up 53 points in a victory over A.C. Flora. The problem lies in the 45 points they gave up. Turnovers and poor field position helped Flora jump out to a 26-7 lead in the first half. While Woodruff was able to eventually come back and pull away, you can’t expect to give a big lead to two-time defending 2A champion Abbeville and come out victorious. Abbeville is a well coached, disciplined team who will make you pay for your mistakes. I expect this to be a shootout, and if Holloran cuts down on the turnovers (3 interceptions last week) I don’t think anyone can keep pace with the Wolverines offense. Not expecting many punts and I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams top 40 points in this one.