By Alex Smith
Another week is in the books, and now it’s the last week of non-region games in our area. Let’s take a look at what’s coming up this Friday in 2A and 3A in the upstate.
I’ll start this week’s article with the undefeated Chapman Panthers. We all know by now that Chapman’s offense is special. Coach Hodge’s team has had no trouble moving the ball this year, whether it’s through the air with quarterback Mikele Colasurdo, or with the running game, where running back Dante Smith finished with 202 yards and 3 touchdowns on 32 carries in the Panthers’ 42-31 win over Woodruff. What some people may not know, is how impressive Chapman’s defense has been in 2018, especially in the second half of games.
Caught in a tough back and forth game with the Wolverines, it was the Panther defense that came alive in the second half, led by defensive back Andrew Colasurdo who finished with 9 tackles, 1 pass break up, and 2 interceptions while being named our Fox Sports 1400 Player of the Week.
It was the second time in the last 3 weeks that the Panthers have forced late turnovers to turn the tide of the game and come away with a victory. They will need another stout performance on that side of the ball again this Friday, as the Panthers will travel to take on another undefeated team in the Eastside Eagles.
Eastside scored a late touchdown to down the Broome Centurions last week by a score of 33-28. While the Eagles remain undefeated, they haven’t played as tough of competition as Chapman has so far. I don’t think Chapman’s offense will struggle much in this one, and if the defense continues forcing turnovers, I think this game could get out of hand quickly. Panthers will roll in this one, and move to 6-0 on the season.
The Broome Centurions, who as I mentioned fell in a close one to Eastside, will have another grueling test this Friday, as they will be on the road at the 4-0 Wren Hurricanes. Wren is coming off of a dominant 45-0 win over Clinton, and have allowed just 28 points so far this season.
Quarterback Brenden Taylor and the Broome offense showed signs of life in the second half last week, even taking the lead in the 4th quarter after trailing by 13. The Centurions haven’t been at full strength the past few weeks due to injuries, but don’t expect to hear any excuses from Coach Lynn Fleming.
I know he will have his guys ready to battle this Friday, regardless of the health of his team. I expect this game will go down to the wire much like the Centurions’ game a week ago, however I think the results are different this time, and Broome will get an upset win and have some momentum as they head into region play next week.
Another team in 3A that has been a bit inconsistent through the first month is the Chesnee Eagles. Chesnee fell to the Landrum Cardinals in Week 4 by a score of 21-13. The Chesnee offense struggled last Friday, especially in the red zone, but I think that is more of a testament to how good the Cardinals defense is, rather than the Eagles offense underperforming.
The Eagles will have another strenuous test this week, as they will host the Blacksburg Wildcats. Blacksburg is 2-2 on the season, and are feeling confident coming off of a 50-12 victory over Carolina Christian.
I expect Chesnee’s offensive line to have an easier time opening lanes for the running game this week, and I like the Eagles to bounce back and get a win in what I predict will be a low scoring affair.
One of the best surprises in the upstate this year has been the play of the Landrum Cardinals. Landrum used great defensive play and a strong rushing attack to down Chesnee last week, once again being led by Turner Ussery who finished with 159 yards and a touchdown on the ground. With two of the four wins this year coming against schools from higher classifications, the Cardinals have exceeded even the lofty expectations that I had set for them this preseason.
This week they will take on the 0-4 West Oak Warriors, and I don’t believe Coach Farmer’s team will have much of a struggle in this one. West Oak will have trouble moving the football against this defense, and Landrum should have good field position to take advantage of throughout the night. This should be a big win for the Cardinals and they will enter region play with a 5-1 record, after just one win a season ago.
Union County and Woodruff are on a bye this week, and this is the last chance for teams to work out the kinks before we get into region play. Another exciting Friday lies ahead and there is still plenty to learn about each of these teams. Bring on kickoff!!