Week Zero 4A/5A Preview
High School football is back, and it’s time to look at what is coming up in Week Zero for 4A and 5A.
I’ll start with our Spartanburg Nutrition Game of the Week which is the Gaffney Indians at the Spartanburg Vikings. Gaffney enters the game after a season in which they finished 6-1, the only loss a heartbreaking 34-33 loss to T.L. Hanna in the playoffs. Spartanburg finished their first season under Coach Mark Hodge winning their final 3 games to end with a 4-3 record. The Vikings are returning plenty of talent for 2021, led by highly touted Junior quarterback Raheim Jeter. The Indians also have some players returning, but will be without longtime starting quarterback Undre Lindsey who is now in college. This game is very intriguing, as Gaffney is expected to have very talented defensive line, while the offensive line should be one of the strongest units for the Vikings. Spartanburg is a little banged up heading into the season opener, but I expect this will still be one of the most competitive games of the opening week. This game, like so many others early in the season, will most likely hinge on turnovers and who is more careful with the football, especially if the rain is a factor. My early lean has Gaffney coming out on top, but I have learned to never underestimate a Coach Hodge team, especially after their first full offseason together.
There is also a rivalry game this Friday as the Byrnes Rebels head to Dooley Field to take on the Greer Yellow Jackets. Byrnes had a particularly difficult 2020, with constant cancellations and rescheduling that saw them drop their final three games to finish at 2-3. Gabe Rodgers is back at quarterback for the Rebels, and as the unquestioned number one guy who got all the reps in the offseason, I expect him to take a big step forward and add his name to the long list of great Byrnes quarterbacks we’ve seen over the past two decades. On the other sideline the Jackets will be replacing two of their top playmakers from a season ago, losing wide receiver Miller DeArmond (graduated) and tight end Jaleel Skinner (transferred). They do however return Izzy Rhodes who can be a game changer at both running back and defensive back. I think Greer will need to play a near perfect game to keep up with the Rebels this Friday, but with the ghosts of Dooley Field on their side nothing is impossible. I think if Byrnes can play a clean game by limiting their turnovers and penalties, they will come away with the victory.
The final 5A game in our area is Clover at Dorman. The Cavaliers are coming off a season in which they won their fourth consecutive Region II-5A title. All four years they had a different starting quarterback. Coach Gutshall will once again be breaking in a new QB in 2021, and probably several. The Cavaliers don’t have a clear cut number one coming into the opener, and are likely two play at least two different players at the position against the Blue Eagles. Clover is coming off of a season in which they scored just 17 points per game while going 2-3, but will likely be improved this year on offense with several returning starters. I believe the Cavs will lean on their defense early in the year while they figure out an offensive identity. Dorman ‘s defense has speed and has looked great in preseason scrimmages. I expect Dorman to go run heavy this week behind a big offensive line, while the defense forces several negative plays for the Blue Eagles. Last season Dorman scored 69 points in the opener. I don’t see that happening but I think the Cavaliers come away with at least a two score win.