2021 Week Zero Recap
Football!! Week 0 of the 2021 high school football season is in the books and man, it was a real treat. I love high school football. I have since I was 4 years old when I fell in love with the game watching my older half brother play for Union. My butt has been either glued to a stadium seat or my ear stuck on a speaker every Fall Friday night since 1994. So, to have a full season with full stadiums after the unprecedented season we had in 2020 just hit different. For just a few hours last night, the world felt normal. It almost left me longing for more. But enough of that sappy stuff. Let’s recap what happened on the gridiron last night.
Gaffney 31 Spartanburg 12
The rivalry renewed. Spartanburg fans have come into 2021 with a positive outlook and high expectations for their Vikings. And rightfully so. With a full offseason under Mark Hodge, a returning QB in Raheim Jeter, a solid running back in Drek Carter, and several key players back on defense such as Judah McJempsey, the sky was the limit for Spartanburg.
Jeter dressed last night, but would not get the start since Mark Hodge did not want to rush him back after he was banged up in a jamboree last week. Instead, Garrett Fulmer got the nod for the Vikings, and he was pretty solid save for having no passing TDs and 2 picks in the game. Drek Carter continued to show his brilliance for the Vikings, having broken off several long runs and a couple of TDs with over 100 rushing yards.
For Gaffney, Grayson Loftis, the junior transfer QB from Blue Ridge showed some potential. He did not light up the stat sheet, nor did he really take many shots downfield, but he was effective enough and did have a passing TD. The story offensively for the Indians was more about running backs Tyler Smith and Ken Littlejohn, who combined for 3 rushing TDs on the night.
The difference in this game, which was close up to the last 8:00, was turnovers and special teams. Spartanburg turned the ball over on downs twice, lost 1 fumble, and had 2 picks late on top of 2 blocked field goals and a partially blocked punt. The Indians scored 2 TDs off turnovers that sealed the deal, en route to their 4th straight win in the series and 9th in the last 12 meetings.
Clover 20 Dorman 7
Coach Dave Gutshall said during media day that he had a big QB battle going on. The uncertainty surrounding Dorman from this news made this matchup with Clover more intriguing than the last time these 2 met in the 2019 playoff quarterfinals. That was a epic game between 2 loaded squads that came down to a last second field goal from Dorman to win it.
This game had nowhere near the same intensity as that one did, and it ended with what is the biggest surprise of the week. Dorman struggled uncharacteristically on both sides of the ball for a Dave Gutshall coached team, only accumulating 195 yards of total offense (102 passing, 93 rushing). The Cavaliers’ defense gave up 221 yards of total offense (191 on the ground) and were penalized 12 times for 108 yards.
Dorman used Hudson Talley at QB, who threw for 101 yards with no TDs. Running back Chamarryus Bomar led the rushing attack with 57 yards on the ground. The Cavaliers’ lone score of the game came on a 10 yard run from Will Black with 10:00 left to play in the ballgame.
Aside from the QB battle, it seems like a lot of Dorman’s sloppiness could be chalked up as just being week 0 rustiness/first game jitters. I have no doubt they will clean up the penalties and sloppiness, and I also believe as the season goes on, they will establish an identity on offense and the may find a QB. The question is.. what will happen next week against Boiling Springs? What happens next week will tell us a lot about whether or not this upset was a fluke or if Clover is really a threat.
Byrnes 55 Greer 14
I have said it several times now and I will reiterate it again. After the disappointing season the Byrnes Rebels had a year ago, things could only go up for them. A year ago, they had the same problem Dorman had last night, struggling to pass the ball and muster any balance on offense and relying heavily on Mack Long to make big plays. Now, after a whole offseason of training and a year of experience under his belt, plus with Mack Long still there to back him up, Gabe Rogers was poised to do big things this season.
Well… So far so good on that “big things this season” deal. In a hostile road environment such as Greer’s historic Dooley Field, you expected that the rebels would come out swinging hard, being aggressive, and really trying to wear down the Greer defense. They did, but not before Greer took a big gamble early on.
The Yellow Jackets went for an onside kick on the opening kickoff, a gamble that in the moment paid off since they recovered it. But, they could not move the ball and ended up going 3 and out afterwards. After trading 3 and outs, and Greer going on a long drive that ended in a turnover on downs at the Byrnes 32, the Rebels’ Kyai Cook returned a punt 26 yards into plus territory to the Greer 45.
Byrnes finally broke through with a 14 yard TD pass from Gabe Rogers to Collin Imhoff with 9:35 to play in the 1st half, and they just began to pour it on from there. Gabe Rogers finished 10 for 16 with 239 yards passing and 5 passing TDs. Imhoff led the Rebel receivers with 6 catches for 128 yards and 2 TDs. The Byrnes rushing attack was led by Elijah Barnes with 10 carries for 112 yards and a TD.
In spite of the rout, Greer’s Hollis Crosby was pretty good, going 13-34 with 188 yards and 2 passing TDs. Malakhi Saunders was his leading target, hauling in 6 passes for 87 yards and a TD.
Woodruff 41 Chesnee 28
The Woodruff Wolverines have been an intriguing bunch to keep up with the last couple of years. They had a workhorse halfback that you may have heard. Some guy named Shemare Dendy. Well, much like Hunter Renfrow and Rodrigo Blankenship, he finally graduated after what felt like ages. His shoes are certainly not easily filled. Bradley Adams mentioned in media days that 5 different players would be competing for playing time at running back this season. Last night, we saw one of them make a difference in the game.
Demarian Elmore had 14 carries for 125 yards and 2 TDs for the Wolverines as part of an offensive explosion that saw them put up 520 yards of total offense. On top of Elmore’s stellar performance, QB Carson Tucker lived up to expectations that he would be capable of doing big things, same as Byrnes’ Gabe Rogers and Spartanburg’s Raheim Jeter with a year of experience under his belt and a whole offseason to continue to improve. Tucker was 15 for 18 with 251 yards, 4 passing TDs and a rushing TD. Mathias Dial was the leading receiver for Woodruff, with 9 snags for 174 yards and 3 TDs.
Chesnee had a few question marks coming into the season, having lost offensive leaders Ny’quille O’fair, Camden Burns, and Cole Hoskins from a year ago. They have a new dual threat QB in Jaylen Rudisill, and a big target for him in Kjymie Valentine. Last night, Rudisill was 3 of 9 passing for 78 yards and 2 TDs and rushed the ball 13 times for 117 yards and a TD. Valentine had 2 receptions for 67 yards and 2 TDs.
Going forward, Woodruff will be an offensive force. They are that good, and that is exactly why if you are a Chesnee fan, you shouldn’t be too upset. It is a long season yet, and they still have plenty of time & talent. The Eagles are still perfectly capable of making the playoffs and going on a run.
Powdersville 46 Broome 28
Broome and Powdersville are quickly blossoming into a non-region rivalry of sorts. These 2 last met in the playoffs 2 years ago, with the Centurions coming away with a 45-21 win. Last night, Broome traveled to Powdersville to take on the Patriots. We are all high on Broome’s QB Dylan Ramirez, who is now in his 3rd season as QB for the Centurions. He is fun to watch, and last night was certainly no exception. He helped Broome to jump out to an early lead, and they led by as much as 28-19 before absolutely imploding over the final 2 quarters.
The Centurions have some talent and more depth than they have had in recent years, but still not enough to keep them from getting worn down to the point where they cannot finish games. In the 2nd half they were shut out, with Powdersville scoring 17 unanswered.
I still think that with Ramirez, Broome will still win some games this season, and even if they don’t, last night showed that they will at least be in some games. If they can find a way to finish games and build their depth, they can be nasty.
That is a wrap on week 0! Now we turn our attention to a loaded week 1 with a full slate of games! Tune in throughout the week and keep checking in on our app and website as we preview, predict, and prepare you for all the high school gridiron action this coming Friday night!