5 Things to Watch
By Alex Smith
Our Game of the Week
This week’s Game of the Week presented by Speed Factory is a rematch from earlier this year in the regular season. The Northwestern Trojans defeated the Gaffney Indians 17-13 in Week 6 after making a mid season coaching change. Both teams have been playing great football since then, with the Trojans winning five of six games since the coaching switch, including a 58-7 thumping of Laurens in Round 1 of the playoffs. The Indians meanwhile, have won four of five since the meeting with Northwestern, scoring at least 30 points in each contest. Gaffney moved running back Cameron Rice over to the defensive side more in the latter half of the season, and the entire defense has rallied around him playing much better against the run during this stretch run. This should be another one score game and while I think while the Indians are more talented team, they have struggled away from the Reservation in 2017. Watch for senior quarterback Tyshun Sarratt to have a huge night if Gaffney is to advance.
No more pushovers for Chapman
At this point we all know about Coach Mark Hodge and the Chapman Panthers. They are 11-0 and have been rolling over the opposition by nearly 40 points a game. Senior quarterback Colton Bailey is a Mr. Football finalist and they boast an offense full of stars including running back DJ Twitty and wide receivers Patrick Phongstat and Richard Tucker to name a few. While the Panthers will still be the favorites to reach Columbia, the pressure now rests on their defense. This Friday Chapman will host the Chester Cyclones in Round 2. Chester also has a dynamic offense that is coming off a 61 point effort in a win over Powdersville last week. While I don’t think any team really wants to get into a shootout with the Panthers, that’s what I see happening Friday night. It wouldn’t surprise me if both teams end up topping 40 points, but I think Chapman’s defense will make the necessary stops down the stretch. The Panther defense hasn’t been tested like this recently, but if they can force a turnover or two no one can keep up with Colton and Co.
Centurions hit the road again
Coach Lynn Fleming and the Broome Centurions got a big time road win in Round 1 of the playoffs with a 31-24 victory over Walhalla. The path doesn’t get any easier as they follow that with another road trip, this time to face the Emerald Vikings. The Vikings enter this Friday on an eight game winning streak and have scored at least 40 points in every game since the calendar flipped to October. The Centurions will try to do what they do best again this week, and that is to run the ball, and stop the run. Our Player of the Week Broome RB/LB Jarius Jeter was a beast on both sides of the ball last week, finishing with 103 yards and a TD rushing, as well as 8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 interception on defense. Quarterback JaQuan “Worm” Wilkins was no slouch either finishing with 134 rushing yards, 159 passing yards and 2 total touchdowns, while also playing a great game at defensive back. If Broome can play smart football and limit penalties and turnovers, I think their skill position athletes will find enough room behind a big offensive line to score enough points to earn Coach Fleming a second playoff win in his first season at the helm.
Spartanburg looks to stay alive
The Vikings earned a tough win last Friday on the road over Westside. This week they will travel once again, this time to take on the Hillcrest Rams. Many of the same problems that the Vikings struggled with at the end of the regular season were on display in the first round of the playoffs as well. After a red zone fumble, Westside went 98 yards on one play for a touchdown. Spartanburg was able to respond with their own score to answer, and eventually went on to win the game. However they can’t continue to make those same miscues and expect to advance once again. I believe Coach Miller’s team is more talented, especially at the skill positions with players like Damyjai Foster who can line up all over the field. I think the Vikings should win this game in a close one, but if the fumbles continue, especially in the red zone, Hillcrest could steal this game away late.
Does Dorman continue to roll?
Last week the Cavaliers cruised to a 42-7 win over Woodmont for their ninth consecutive victory. Coach Gutshall has found a game plan that works, and this team has been unstoppable for the past two months. Behind Jordan McFadden and a dominant offensive line, the Cavs have averaged well over 300 yards a game on the ground. As my grandmother used to say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t foresee Mauldin to have any answer for the Dorman rushing attack and as long as they aren’t caught looking ahead to a possible showdown with T.L. Hanna in the next round, Dorman should advance with no problem.