5 Things to Watch Week 7
By Alex Smith
A great team will be 0-2?
Region play got underway last week and both Byrnes and Boiling Springs opened with tough losses. Byrnes fell against Spartanburg 21-14 and the Bulldogs dropped a road contest at Dorman 28-18. Byrnes entered last week undefeated and ranked number 2 in the state but couldn’t slow down the Vikings electric running game, which was led by Zykamren Robinson’s 203 yards and a touchdown. Boiling Springs didn’t fare much better as Dorman’s stout offensive line was able to push the Bulldogs defense around in the second half as well. Now both teams enter the second week of region play, and the loser of this game will be 0-2 and have a big hole to climb out of. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments Coach Reggie Shaw will make after his team struggled to score last week, which put the Rebel defense in poor field position for most of the game. As for the Bulldogs, Coach Rick Tate’s team will have playmaker Najee Thompson back this Friday, hoping his big play ability can lead to more points on the scoreboard. The playoff implications of this game are huge, and with Gaffney opening region play this week, the loser of this game will be alone in last place with just two more region games remaining. I don’t expect a lot of points in this one, as both teams field a ton of speed on the defensive side of the ball. I think this game goes down to the wire, and the team that falls could very well be the lone region team left out of the playoffs.
Can Broome (or anybody) win on the road at Newberry?
The Centurions rebounded from their first loss of the season with a 38-21 victory over Mid-Carolina in the region opener. Broome dominated the line of scrimmage and created enough holes for running back Jarius Jeter to finish with 209 yards on the ground. Quarterback Ja’Quan Wilkins is also now looking more comfortable running Coach Fleming’s offense since Brendan Taylor was lost for the year to injury. This week will be a much tougher task as they take on the undefeated Newberry Bulldogs. As usual Newberry features a strong rushing attack and a physical defense that comes in allowing just 14 points per contest. Last week Coach Phil Strickland’s team routed injury plagued Woodruff 49-10. This should be an interesting game with the winner set to challenge Chapman for the region title. The Centurions will need to play mistake free football to get a win, as Coach Strickland will undoubtedly have some new defensive looks to try and confuse Broome’s inexperienced quarterback. Coach Fleming will look for another dominant effort from the offensive line if they hope to move to 2-0 in the region. Regardless of who wins this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if both these teams end up advancing deep in the 3A playoffs.
Battle for first in Region III-5A
The Gaffney Indians open region play this week on the road against the Dorman Cavaliers. Coach Dave Gutshall’s team enters having won four in a row behind an improved defense that hasn’t allowed more than 21 points during the winning streak. The Indians also seem to have things back on track with a 44-14 win over Rock Hill last Friday. The key in this game will be how the Cavalier defense does against Gaffney’s dual-threat quarterback Tyshun Sarratt. The senior is excellent at avoiding the pass rush to extend plays while making accurate throws downfield from outside the pocket. Teams have tried putting a spy on the quarterback against the Indians, but this often leaves wide receiver Dennis Smith (Duke commit) in one on one situations; which is a matchup Gaffney will gladly take advantage of. I’m interested to see how the Dorman defensive staff approaches this Gaffney offense, and what adjustments they make throughout the game. On the other side of the ball the Cavaliers probably don’t need to change much. The offensive line has looked great recently, opening running lanes for playmakers like Thomas Morgan, who racked up 143 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 9 carries last week. I’m expecting a tight game, and the winner will put themselves in great position to at least get a home playoff game down the road.
Will Chapman have a letdown?
The short answer is…….no. The Panthers have been rolling along all season outscoring opponents by an average of 51.6-13.7. Woodruff on the other hand, enters this game reeling after a getting blown out by Newberry in their region opener. We all know about the Wolverines injury problems this season, and last week they dressed only 27 players. Chapman’s offense was a juggernaut again last Friday, led by our Fox Sports/Rockie Bull All-State Insurance Player of the Week D.J. Twitty. He finished with 191 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. Coach Hodge and his staff have done a great job of keeping their players focused, despite being heavy favorites in most of their games. I expect more of the same from quarterback Colton Bailey and Co. in week 7, and I think this one could get out of hand early. The Panthers senior class has never beaten Woodruff, but that will change this Friday night.
Improvement in the Landrum offense
Last week Landrum fell short in their region opener falling to Chesnee 36-29. There are however several positives to take away from the loss. The Cardinals had a punt blocked and fell behind 21-0 early in the game. Instead of folding the Cardinals rallied behind quarterback Michael Clark, scoring on their first four drives after halftime, including a two-point conversion to make it a one score game late in the fourth. The 29 second half points were more than Landrum had scored in any other entire game this season. This week Landrum travels to St. Joseph’s in Greenville. The Knights are no pushover, but if the Cardinals continue to show improvement on the offensive side they will have a chance to get a win, and keep their goal of making the playoffs alive.