Week 6 Recap
It may be October, but today felt a little bit like Christmas here across the upstate and all across South Carolina. Region play has arrived. It’s time to put on the gauntlets. Put up or shut up. The games matter. The real season starts now. *Insert more cliches here (haha)*..
Bad dad jokes/cliches aside, we are now a little over halfway through the season, and while we cannot say the picture is clear yet, we do have a pretty good idea of who each of our local teams are after this week. That said, let’s dive into what happened in week 6 of high school football.
Spartanburg 33 Byrnes 30
Our Spartanburg Nutrition Game of the Week lived up to the billing and then some. There were looming questions coming into last night. For Spartanburg, we all wondered since this was a crucial game as far as playoff seeding and chances at winning Region 2-5A goes, whether or not Coach Hodge would finally open up the playbook and let Raheim Jeter do what he is capable of as a dual threat quarterback. The 2 questions for Byrnes were whether or not they would be able to run the football to help open their offense up in the absence of Mack Long and Elijah Barnes as well as whether or not their defense would be able to keep them in games/avoid shootout situations.
Those questions were all pretty well answered last night at Nixon Field. Raheim Jeter, while still limited, did run the ball 10 times for 33 yards (on top of going 14-25 for 209 yards & 3 TDs through the air). For Byrnes, sophomore running back Kanai Cook assumed the mantle, with 28 carries for 179 yards and a TD, as well as 3 catches for 45 yards (if you’re not a math guy like me, that is 15 yards per catch) and a receiving TD.
The hard cutting truth here is that this game was not at all pretty or well played. For either team. Which is why it was such a good game. Spartanburg was penalized 10 times for 115 yards. Byrnes was penalized 10 times for nearly 100 as well. Spartanburg really struggled in the red zone, failing to score after having the ball 1st and goal from the 7 twice. Spartanburg was 5 for 11 on 3rd down. Byrnes was even worse, at just 38% on third down (7 for 18). Spartanburg’s defense allowed over 400 yards of total offense to Byrnes tonight. Byrnes gave up 322. It all came down to a walkoff field goal by the Vikings.
If you were going by stats alone, you definitely can see why there were 63 points combined in this game. You also probably wonder how on earth Spartanburg pulled it off. I really couldn’t tell you the difference in this one. But I do know this. Spartanburg fans have to be ecstatic right now.
Duh.. They’re 1-0 in the region. But to go into a hostile environment like Nixon Field for your region opener, not have your best game, and still come away with a win over a Byrnes team that, though banged up, is still very talented, is a huge testament for where Coach Hodge has this program. The future is very bright for Viking football.
Looking ahead, the big question now is how much more do they open things up for Raheim Jeter? It will be fun to see when he is finally at 100%, and hopefully it will be in time for what is going to potentially be the biggest “City Rivalry” game in 7 years. Spartanburg will host Wade Hampton next week while the Rebels will look to rebound on the road against a Riverside team that has created quite the buzz around here in the first half of the season.
Dorman 47 Riverside 14
The talk of the town this week on the high school gridiron, aside from the Spartanburg-Byrnes game, was this matchup between Riverside and Dorman. I have been waiting for a chance to talk about Riverside, and I am going to take just a minute to give credit where it is due.
We all know the Warriors. They’re the little team everyone scheduled for homecoming. They’re the team that if you somehow lost to, it just ticked you off to no end. We jokingly have called them “Homecoming”. They couldn’t even hang in there with other schools that are typically “Homecoming material.”
But, not this year. They brought in a new head coach, Matthew Rochester (who is a fellow alum of my alma mater, North Greenville University). He brought in a lot of coaches from Greer and other schools around Greer that know how to win, and have reputations for being winners. It is clear that approach has paid dividends. Riverside started off 6-0. Yes, Captain Obvious.. “They haven’t played anybody.” As I said earlier, that is still a testament to the progress they have made in a short time. They used to lose badly to those nobodies. Credit where it is due, Matthew and that staff have done a great job of changing the culture and I can think of no school more deserving of some success and some recognition than Riverside, given their history up to now.
Gonna go ahead and play Captain Obvious again here.. Yes. Dorman beat them. Bad. I don’t think there is anyone out there who realistically thought that Riverside was going to beat Dorman. What this game was and what made it so intriguing was that it was a real test to see just how far this Riverside program has come.
Our question marks about Dorman have now really all been answered. This offense has come a long way from week 0. Dave Gutshall has his quarterback in Hudson Talley, who was 4-6 for 107 yards and 2 TDs against the Warriors last night. The Cavaliers have an established running game as well. They have a stable of running backs headlined by Demarius Foster and Chamarryus Bomar, who combined for nearly 300 rushing yards and 2 TDs on 18 carries. Dave Gutshall has done what he always does. He has found his guys and he has made his system fit the talent he has. Dorman has their offense figured out. Also, make no mistake, the Cavaliers absolutely were the bigger & better team at the line of scrimmage. In essence, this game went exactly how you’d expect.
Riverside was led by QB Rob Sanders. Sanders, unlike Riverside’s traditional QBs (historically, having been the program they were, they have run the option), is able to sling the ball around. The Warriors have had much success through the air all season. Things started off pretty well for them last night (once they got the ball. Dorman got it first and scored on the first play from scrimmage). The Warriors trailed just 14-7 going to the 2nd quarter when Sanders took a big hit and ended up leaving the game in concussion protocols. From there, they struggled to move the ball, and things just snowballed on them. Dorman controlled the clock and ran the ball with such success that they were able to shut Riverside out until late in the game, while hanging 33 on them in that span.
So, where is Riverside? Right where you’d expect them to be. They may not win the region. But, provided their QB is ok, they have the potential to make some noise and maybe upset someone. Who knows? They might be able to snag the 4th playoff spot from 2-5A.
Dorman is also exactly where they should be right now. Having figured out their offense, they will be a threat to all defenses in 2-5A and they are the favorites right now. The Cavaliers will take a short break from region play to host Gaffney next week, and that is probably a prime candidate for game of the week.
Riverside will host Byrnes next.
Gaffney 34 Boiling Springs 0
I am not going to spend much time on this one. For one, I am starting to sound and feel like a broken record saying the same thing about Boiling Springs every week. (What’s that Captain Obvious? They’re young and have a lot of room for growth? Thanks!)
This one played out exactly how we all knew it would. Gaffney’s defense was going to be too much for that young and small O line, and they were going to shut the Bulldogs out. The question was how much would Gaffney score. Looking at that score, I am going to go on a limb and say Gaffney ran the ball a lot and played ball/clock control. If they didn’t then, there is a positive for the Dogs.
Regardless, don’t fret if you are a Boiling Springs fan. I firmly believe that the Bulldogs won’t go winless in 2021. They are going to pull one off in region play. Maybe Fort Mill? Time will tell. Also, this program has a brighter future ahead.
Next up for the Bulldogs is a road trip to Nation Ford while the Indians will travel to Dorman for a big non-region showdown.
Greenville 42 Greer 28
This game may or may not have been for the region championship right off the bat in 2-4A. Greenville came into the game 5-1, having an offense that averaged 32 points per game. They were highly touted as the favorite to win the region in the preseason.
Greer had been riding a hot streak, having won 2 in a row and was also poised, with the help of a strong non-region schedule, to make a run at the region crown themselves.
Greenville didn’t waste any time in jumping ahead in this one, as Prometheus Franklin hit Tyler Brown for an 84 yard strike on their first play from scrimmage. But, the Yellow Jackets answered on an MJ Green TD run from 3 yards out to tie it. Greenville drove it right back down the field, but Greer’s defense came up with a huge stop on 4th and goal at their 6 yard line. They went into the 2nd quarter knotted up at 7.
Greenville scored quickly to open the 2nd quarter when Franklin found Khalique Holland on a screen for a 39 yard TD to go up 14-7. Greer answered with a long drive capped with a yard MJ Green TD run to knot it back up at 14 with 4:30 to play in the half. The 2 exchanged turnovers after that as Greenville muffed the ensuing kickoff, but Greer fumbled the ball on 3rd down after recovering the muff. They went to the half tied 14-14.
The Red Raiders finally opened it up in the 3rd as they drove down the field on their first possession of the 2nd half for a TD to go up 21-14. Following another Greer turnover, this time a pick, the Raiders extended their lead on a 6 yard TD run by Pro Franklin. Greer fought back to within a TD after Hollis Crosby kept it for a 27 yd TD run on 4th down. But, in the end it was not meant to be as they were outscored 14-7over the final 10:00 of the game.
Greenville’s Franklin was 13-21 for 244 yards and 2 passing TDs, while also logging 65 yards on 11 carries with a TD. Greer was led by Ladainnian Martin, who finished with 95 rushing yards and a TD on 20 touches.
Next up for the Yellow Jackets is a non-region date with the Belton Honea Path Bears. Greenville is scheduled to host Laurens next week, but this one is in doubt as Laurens is dealing with Covid protocols presently.
Chapman 54 Woodruff 35
There was 1 looming question in the region 3-3A opener between the Woodruff Wolverines and Chapman Panthers. Woodruff QB Carson Tucker was cleared to play last week, although he did not. So the question is whether or not we would see him back calling the signals for the Wolverines this week. The answer is yes, we would. Tucker got the nod, and he honestly did not look like he skipped a beat. There was no rust or anything.
But, Tucker’s return was not the biggest story of this game. I could honestly just quit summarizing this one and leave it at this name. Have you heard the name DJ Black yet? If not, circle it. Get used to it. Because this kid is going to be playing on Saturdays soon.
While I do not have the official stats for him from last night, I do know he carried Chapman offensively, with 6 total TDs (5 receiving, 1 rushing). He also made one of the best leaping snags I have ever seen in a high school game, managing to hold on, come down in bounds with inches to spare, juke 3 defenders out, and then take off for a TD (go see my twitter, @FerrellonFS1400 for video footage of this play!). As my buddy Justin so aptly said as I was walking out last night.. “It’s Dj’s world. We’re just living in it.”
Chapman’s offensive game plan was the same as it has been the last few weeks. Run the ball between the tackles (they returned running back Derrick Miller from injury last night and utilized him just like their other 2 halfbacks in Taylor Dunning and Keanu Na) to open up the pass, and then have Drew Settle roll out and find either Walt Waddell or DJ Black down the sideline for a TD. It has been effective, leading to several big plays. Last night was no exception. On 4 of Black’s 5 TDs, Settle connected with him down the sideline, often with at least a corner on him. But every time, he managed to either break the tackle or the defender would just slide off him like he was coated in oil.
Chapman built up a 30-7 advantage late in the 1st half. But, credit to Woodruff.. rather than just lying down and taking their lumps, the Wolverines kept fighting back. Logan Gaspar took a kickoff back 99 yards for a TD to make it 30-14. After trailing the Panthers 37-14 at the half, Tucker hit Nitavis Goggins down the sideline for a 72 yard TD to cut back to within 17 (2 pt try failed). After another Settle to Black bomb to make it 44-20, Carson Tucker connected again with Nehemiah Cochran for a 57 yard TD, and after converting the 2, the Wolverines trailed 44-28 heading to the final quarter.
In the 4th, Chapman salted it away, outscoring Woodruff 10-7 to make the final 54-35.
In short, big plays and DJ Black were the stories of the game. Woodruff kept on fighting, but just like Chesnee when they played Chapman 2 weeks ago, they just were not made for coming back from such a large deficit, and in the end they just did not have an answer for DJ Black.
Going forward, I don’t think there is any doubt that this Chapman team is NOT down or going to struggle in spite of having lost 2 non-region games. After all, that is actually rather ignorant to say, seeing as those losses were to a (especially at the time) loaded Byrnes team the Panthers were within 5 yards of beating and to a very good Brookland-Cayce team that managed to beat them with only 30 players. That kind of battle testing makes Chapman dangerous, and they are easily going to contend with Clinton for Region 3-3A (they play in 2 weeks!)
Next up, the Panthers will host the Emerald Vikings while Woodruff will go to Union.
Clinton 56 Union 21
In similar fashion to when we talk about Boiling Springs, it seems we say the same thing about Union County every week. Maybe it is because the story with the Yellow Jackets doesn’t change. Sure, Union had the COVID shutdown delay the start of their season 2 weeks. But that was over a month ago. So, absolutely no offense to Union, Covid is no longer a good excuse. I am sure Jacket fans would agree with us there? So, what is the problem?
For one, Union has a lot of injuries right now piling up, which getting into the heart of your schedule is never a good thing. The depth issues the injury bug creates has certainly reared its ugly head, as Union has lost most of their games by letting them slip away in the 2nd half.
In all honesty, I am not sure if depth and injuries are even to blame for this loss. It may just be the simple fact that Clinton is that good. The Red Devils are looking a lot like the Clinton teams of old that just smash mouth you and run the ball down your throat. They entered this contest 5-0 having scored 200 points in those 5 games while only surrendering 70.
That is exactly what they did to Union last night. 6 of their 7 TDs were rushing touchdowns, with JyKorie Gary, Joshua Copeland, and Jayden Robinson each logging one, while Bryson James recorded the other 3. They also had a 90 yard pick 6 in the onslaught. The lone bright spot for Union continues to be Ja’Bryson Hunter, who had a pair of rushing TDs.
In essence, this game was never close, and this Clinton team is the real deal. I honestly don’t think anyone but the Chapman Panthers are going to have anything for them, and you can bet that all eyes in 3-3A will be on Wilder Stadium in Clinton in 2 weeks when those 2 face off.
Can anything be salvaged for Union at this point? I honestly don’t want to count them out because of all the talent they have, but their schedule does not get any easier from here. They still have to face Dylan Ramirez and Broome, Carson Tucker and Woodruff, and the other 3 headed giant in their region — the Chapman Panthers. There is a long road ahead, but it might be a loooooong road for Union if they don’t get healthy and shore up the little mistakes that are hurting them.
Union will travel to the East side of Spartanburg next week to take on Broome.
Broome 46 Robinsville 43
I honestly don’t know anything about this one besides stats since it was an out-of-state trip for the Centurions. But, I must say, good for Broome to get back to back wins and get back to .500. Dylan Ramirez burned a hole in the stat sheet, going 22 for 38 with 326 yards and. TDs through the air and toting the rock 22 times for 117 yards and 2 TDs. The alarming thing coming into region play next week is that once again, the Centurion defense struggled. Whether or not this is something that can be fixed? 6 games in, you kinda feel like they are who they are. There is still plenty of time to turn it around, but only time will tell. For sure, offense is not a worry for them so long as they stay healthy. Broome will play host to the region favorite Clinton Red Devils next week.
Chesnee 31 Legion 28
Remember when I said Chesnee would be fine in spite of their 0-5 start to the season? Well, they finally broke through last night against former region foe Legion Collegiate. These 2 last met to open the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with Chesnee absolutely dominating them at home. This time, Legion, who is now a member of the North Carolina Private School League, came in not having scored a point all season. So, needless to say, this was a favorable matchup to build confidence and finally get a win for the Eagles as they get ready to enter region 2-2A play next week.
After a mostly scoreless 1st, Chesnee finally broke through on a strip sack that Austin Bigford recovered in the end zone for a TD with 1:14 to play. Legion scored their first points all year on a long 82 yard TD pass from Andrew Turner to Ian Kramer to tie it at 7 early in the 2nd quarter. Chesnee opened things up with a 16 yard TD run by Jayden Gossett and a 12 yard TD pass from Jaylen Rudisill to Adonis Burgess on back to back drives.
Legion would chip away and get back to within 1 score with a long 87 yard TD pass midway through the 3rd quarter. After trading big blows, Legion tied it up at 28 with 2:15 to play in the game on a 44 yard TD run.
Now it was do or die time for this young Chesnee team, and they managed to drive to the legion 20 yard line, where Ezequiel Lazarin nailed a 37 yard field goal with :15 to play, which basically sealed the deal for Chesnee.
Over the last 2 weeks, I have one concern for Chesnee, and that is their young defense, who consistently has given up big plays. They put their offense behind the 8 ball a lot, and as an option team, it is difficult to play from behind if you put yourself in a shootout situation. I still think the Eagles are talented enough to get hot at the right time to make a run, and it definitely helps that they are in a 4 team region, which means they are guaranteed a playoff spot. Can they do what they did in 2019 and rattle off a win streak in the region?