5 Things to Watch Week 5
By Alex Smith
Can Chesnee keep the momentum going?
The Chesnee Eagles improved to 3-2 on the season with a 29-26 win against Berea last Friday night. Quarterback Kyler Reagan was exceptional, accounting for over 250 total yards and 3 TDs on his way to being named our Rockie Bull All-State Insurance Player of the Week. The defense was just as impressive down the stretch, including a game-saving goal line stand as the clock ran out. The last time the Eagles won a tough game, it was over Woodruff on the road. They then proceeded to get embarrassed by Chapman 52-0 the next week. While Clinton doesn’t have the weapons that the Panthers do they can still be a dangerous team. Chesnee needs to win this one to prove to me that they can consistently play well, not just against lesser opponents like West Oak. Chesnee is definitely a threat to win the region, but consistency is the question. If they can put together another complete team effort like the one last week, I’ll start buying into them as a team that could get hot and make a deep playoff run.
Will the Vikings have a letdown?
The Spartanburg Vikings enter this week on a three game winning streak after opening 2017 with back to back losses. They will host Westside for their final non-region game of the year. The Vikings have recently played like a Chris Miller lead team, and look ready to compete for Region III-5A supremacy once again. They’ve averaged 40 points during the winning streak, and have won all three games by at least two touchdowns. The offense has been very balanced putting up over 200 yards passing and rushing, while the defense has been forcing turnovers at an incredible rate. The game against Westside will the test this Vikings team’s mental makeup. Spartanburg is more athletic, and will be favored by most to win on Friday. The coaching staff must make sure the players are focused on Westside and not on the region opener against undefeated Byrnes next week. While these non-region games don’t count toward the playoffs, you would like to be hitting on all cylinders entering the gauntlet of a schedule that all Region III-5A teams must face. I think Coach Miller and his staff will keep the players hungry, and I expect Spartanburg to get a fourth straight win before heading into their showdown with the Rebels.
Can Dorman be dominant on defense?
Nearly halfway through the season and the Cavaliers defense is still a work in progress. Coach Gutshall and his staff have dealt with injuries and inexperience early in the season, and not surprisingly the results have been mixed. The first few weeks Dorman was unable to slow down the run in the second half which allowed the opposition to close out games. The last few weeks the Cavaliers rush defense has improved, but they have given up some big plays in the passing game. Hosting Laurens this week is a great opportunity for the defense to put together four quarters of dominant football. The Raiders enter this game at 1-3 and aren’t exactly a powerhouse on offense. The Cavaliers need to shore up any questions about personnel and/or schemes this week, before facing the balanced offenses in region play the rest of the way. If Dorman gives up over 20 points with their starting defense in, I won’t be convinced they can stop the athletes they’ll face in the region, and they may very well be the odd team out when the playoffs roll around.
How much has Landrum improved on offense?
Last week the Landrum Cardinals go their first win of the season against West Oak 20-9. While 20 points is definitely and improvement (they were shut out the previous two weeks), one score came from the defense and the game was against a winless team that came in giving up over 50 points a game. Coming into the season I expected the Cardinals to struggle on the offensive side as they are very young, while also breaking in a new quarterback with a completely new playbook. This week they play host to 4-1 Walhalla. Even if the Cardinals don’t win Friday, I want to see continued progress from the offense. Last week’s win should be a big confidence booster for Coach Farmer’s team, and if they can start putting points on the board they still have a great shot at making the postseason.
Indians hit the road
The Gaffney Indians have their final tune-up before beginning region play next week. They’ll travel to District 3 Stadium to take on a Northwestern team that is struggling at the moment. The Trojans are 1-2 against Region III-5A teams this season, including back to back big losses to Byrnes and Spartanburg. Northwestern made a coaching change this week so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to the change mid-season. I expect Gaffney to get the win on Friday, as experienced quarterback Tyshun Sarratt is no stranger to tough road games. The Trojans have looked like a mess recently and I don’t think they’ll be able to get things back on track against an athletic Indians team. I expect the Indians to continue the trend of teams putting up 40+ points against Northwestern, and just as many predicted, Region III-5A looks like the best region in the state once again.