5 Things to Watch Week 4
By Alex Smith
The Game of the Week presented by the Speed Factory
This week’s Game of the Week features the Broome Centurions going to Nixon Field to take on the Byrnes Rebels. Both coaches are in their first year at their respective schools and both teams are coming in with a 4-0 record. Last year Broome pulled off the upset, winning 34-28 at home. Entering this season there were questions surrounding both these programs, as the Rebels finished just 3-7 last year, and the Centurions faded late in the season after losing D’Marco Jackson to injury. It’s been quite a different story in the early going of 2017, as Byrnes has looked every bit the real deal with physical wins over Don Bosco and Northwestern the last two weeks. Meanwhile Broome has looked nearly flawless adapting to a new offense under Coach Lynn Fleming to the tune of 41 points per game. This game has been marked on everyone’s calendar all year and hopefully it will live up to the hype. The biggest damper on this game is the huge loss the Centurions suffered last week when quarterback Brendan Taylor left the game with a knee injury. It’s doubtful he’ll play this week, which is probably best for Broome as they have a bye next week before opening region play. The key matchup in this game will be Broome’s offense against the Rebel defense. Byrnes has been winning with defense and special teams this year, and Broome has dominated on offense while running the spread. It’ll be up to Broome’s offensive line to keep the Rebels out of the backfield and give their new quarterback enough time to make smart decisions with the football. I think the advantage goes to Byrnes in this one. A strong defense at home, while playing against a first time starting quarterback, with the revenge factor should propel the Rebels to a fifth straight victory to open the season. Broome needs to focus on getting healthy for region play, and not on the outcome of this game.
How good is Spartanburg’s defense?
The Spartanburg Vikings have rebounded from a tough start to even their record at 2-2. The offense seems to have found their footing the last couple weeks putting up 39 and 41 points in back to back wins. The defense was expected to be one of the best units in the area, but have had trouble stopping the run early this year. They looked much better last week, but that was against a Union team that was completely outmatched. If the Vikings can have another good showing on defense against Northwestern I’ll be more impressed. We all know Connor Shugart is fantastic, but he’ll need help against an athletic spread offense this week. If Spartanburg struggles on defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Chris Miller starts using more offensive starters on that side of the ball going forward.
Woodruff’s injury problems
The Woodruff Wolverines are now 2-2 on the season. That’s pretty impressive considering the injury issues that they’ve had to deal with. They lost third year starting quarterback Keegan Halloran for the year to an ACL injury. Then just a week later backup Tyler West went down. Now it looks like senior Drew Lawton will take the reigns of Coach Trey Elder’s offense. The Wolverines’ struggles on defense have been well documented as they have given up at least 40 points in three of their four games this year. Now down to their third quarterback, it’ll be interesting to see if Coach Elder adjusts the offensive game plan for Lawton. With Halloran at the helm Woodruff could keep piling up points and seemingly just outscore the opposition. Now more pressure will be placed on the defense to play better as the offense gets used to yet another new play caller. This week Woodruff takes on the Greer Yellow Jackets. Greer loves to run the ball and dominate the time of possession. The Wolverines will have a tough task on Friday, and much will be learned about Lawton after he makes his first career start on the road in a rowdy environment.
Chapman dominates……….with defense
Everyone knows what the Panthers can do on offense. Coach Hodge’s team puts up over 50 points with regularity. Last week we saw a little something new as the defense was just as dominant as the offense. Defensive lineman Nate Johnson was a beast up front racking up 4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL, and 13 total tackles in the 52-0 shutout victory over the Chesnee Eagles. Last season Chapman’s defense gave up plenty of yards and points, but always seemed to force a turnover in key situations. This year’s unit looks like they can just flat out dominate for four quarters. I expect more of the same this week as the Panthers host Blue Ridge on Friday. If they put forth another stellar defensive showing, I’m not sure there is a team in any classification that can top Coach Hodge and the Panthers.
Is Dorman finally healthy?
The Dorman Cavaliers were bit by the injury bug early in the 2017 football season. The lack of depth on the defensive side has led to some very inconsistent play. This week Dorman travels to District 3 stadium to take on the Rock Hill Bearcats looking to get back to .500 on the season. Two weeks ago the Cavs got their first win by knocking off Hillcrest 35-18. The defense looked better, but Coach Gutshall ended up playing several players both ways. Coming off of a bye last week, they should be at full strength for the first time all year this Friday. If Dorman shows they can continue to play strong defense in the second half of games, they can make some noise when region play rolls around in a few weeks. Rock Hill is down this year compared to years past, but a win in that stadium rarely comes easy. This is a game that the Cavaliers need to win in convincing fashion for me to believe they have truly turned the corner and are ready to be a true contender.