5 Things to Watch Week 8
By Alex Smith
The Big One at Gibbs Stadium
This years’ matchup between Dorman and Spartanburg is sure to be another classic. Both teams enter on five game winning streaks, and both are undefeated in region play. Last week the Vikings were on a bye, while the Cavaliers moved to 2-0 in Region III-5A with a 42-35 victory over Gaffney. Dorman quarterback Ben Batson was fantastic last Friday finishing with 179 yards passing, 115 yards rushing and 3 total touchdowns while being named our Rockie Bull All-State Insurance Player of the Week. The Cavs have used a bruising rushing attack recently, averaging nearly 300 yards on the ground during their winning streak. The Dorman defense has greatly improved since the first two weeks of the season, but they will have a stiff test this Friday trying to slow down Spartanburg and their plethora of playmakers. The Vikings have been a very balanced and efficient offense lately, averaging 37.6 points and over 400 yards over the course of their win streak. With quarterback Keonte Cartlidge throwing to players like Romaine Kelly and Damyjai Foster, and Zykamren Robinson leading the ground game, the Vikings look to continue their success against this young Dorman defense. On the other side, I think Dorman’s offense will look to use it’s running game to wear down Spartanburg, and hopefully eat up the clock with long drives to try and keep the Vikings’ explosive offense on the sidelines as much as possible. The winner of this game will control their own destiny for the Region III-5A title, but I expect both these teams to make a deep run in the 5A playoffs.
3A Playoff Implications
With Newberry’s 49-21 win over Broome last week, Region III-3A looks like a two team race between the Bulldogs and Chapman. The Centurions meanwhile, look to rebound this week and getting a victory over Woodruff would almost guarantee Broome a spot in the playoffs after missing out last year. The Wolverines enter this game a desperate team, needing a victory this week to keep it’s slim postseason hopes alive. Both these teams have been ravaged with injuries, including both teams’ losing their starting quarterbacks earlier in the year. Broome has looked better recently with Ja’Quan Wilkins running Coach Lynn Fleming’s offense, while Woodruff has struggled to put up points since losing Keegan Halloran. I expect the Centurions to be able to run the ball at will against this thin Wolverine defense, and it looks like Coach Elder’s team will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
(Almost) An Elimination Game in Region III-5A
In Week 7 both Boiling Springs and Gaffney fell in region contests. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-2 in region play, while the Indians loss to Dorman has them at 0-1. This game is practically a playoff game for Coach Tate’s squad, as a Bulldog loss coupled with a Spartanburg victory would eliminate Boiling Springs from postseason contention. Gaffney is also looking to improve it’s postseason chances, as a loss would put them at 0-2, with games against Spartanburg and Byrnes still remaining. This game is interesting as Boiling Springs has had trouble holding second half leads, while Gaffney has looked much better in the second half of their games. I think the key to this game is limiting mistakes. I know it sounds simple but cutting down on turnovers and penalties, which have been a problem for both teams, will be important if you hope to keep your playoff hopes alive. This game is pretty evenly matched and I think to be successful, the Bulldogs will need to find ways to get Najee Thompson the ball and have him make some big plays, as I expect the Indians big trio of QB Tyshun Sarratt, RB Cameron Rice and WR Dennis Smith to put up plenty of points. Friday the 13th at The Reservation………does it get any better than that?
Trap game for the Panthers
The top ranked Chapman Panthers continued rolling along last week with a 48-14 win over region rival Woodruff. This week they will face winless Mid-Carolina. While I expect Chapman to win big, the question is how focused they will be with a showdown with Newberry just one week away. Coach Hodge and his staff have done a great job with the “One game at a time” mentality so far this year, but this week it will be a lot tougher to not look ahead. If Colton Bailey and the rest of the offense come out sharp, this one could get out of hand quickly. I think the Panthers will be just fine, and maybe even have a little something extra after not having any players named to the Shrine Bowl. Chapman needs to take care of business this week, and then we can all get excited for the showdown with undefeated Newberry next Friday.
Landrum still alive
The Landrum Cardinals lost another tough one last week, as they fell 21-10 to St. Joseph’s. The Cardinals now sit at 0-2 in Region I-2A. Landrum needs a win over Christ Church this Friday to stay in the hunt for a playoff appearance as all the other teams in the region already have at least one region victory. Coach Farmer’s team has struggled offensively for most of the season, and will probably need a huge game from quarterback Michael Clark to have a chance in this one. If Landrum can keep this game close and maybe make a few big plays on special teams, they could very well earn their first region win of the year. It’s Friday the 13th………. stranger things than that have happened right?