Round One Recap
What’s that? Playoffs? Let’s talk about playoffs!
What’s that, Jim? Oh.. That isn’t what you said? Oh. Well.. Let’s talk about playoffs anyway.
The postseason got underway last night, and we had 11 of the teams in our coverage area the make it. So, let’s recap all the round 1 playoff action!
Spartanburg 49 Woodmont 28
The Vikings were matched up with a tricky opponent in the Woodmont Wildcats. The ‘Cats are in the midst of a transition t a new style of offense, running a Wing T offense that has been known to give opposing defenses fits. Spartanburg, however had no trouble with this one.
As is commonly the case with first round playoff games, you see a lot of teams either opt not to use their starters for very long because it is a blowout, or you see some of the overmatched underdogs basically punt from square one and opt to use young players to get experience knowing they don’t really stand a chance of moving on. A fair comparison would be the round of 64 in the NCAA basketball tournament, where you see the 16 seeds play the 1 seeds or the other lower seeds get matched with the higher seeds.
Spartanburg dominated this game from the opening bell. Woodmont had no answer for Drek Carter, and the Vikings imposed their will as they were supposed to. Mark Hodge was able to pull his starters fairly early on in the 1st half and let the JV and C team players come in to get some crucial varsity reps that will help build for next year. The score would make it seem like this one was close at one point, but in reality, most of Woodmont’s scores came late in the 2nd half against the Viking JV and C-team guys.
With this dominant victory in the first-ever playoff game at Viking Stadium, Spartanburg will advance to the next round, where they will host our own Ryan Clary’s alma mater, the other Vikings from Spring Valley.
TL Hanna 41 Dorman 35 (OT)
In one of the few close games and more intriguing games we had last night, Dorman fell in overtime in a heartbreaker. This was a back and forth battle between 2 teams with the same identity on offense. TL Hanna thrives on running the ball, and Dorman’s offense is most effective when they are able to execute in the run game. In essence, Hanna’s offense IS running the ball (they had 8 backs all with double digit rushing yards, and accrued nearly 350 yards on the ground compared to only 75 passing yards on 3 attempts) whereas Dorman’s heavily relies on rushing to open up everything else.
Dorman was able to use the run game to balance their offense last night. Hudson Talley was 14 of 18 with 225 yards and a passing TD. Kendall Norman led Dorman’s aerial attack with 159 yards and a TD on just 8 receptions. He combined with Demarius Foster and DJ Porter for a total of 262 receiving yards and 2 TDs. They were able to keep pace with the Yellow Jackets well. The only thing the Cavaliers did not have success at was the kicking game. Matthew Gibson had a rough night, having 1 32 yard fieldgoal attempt blocked and he missed what could have been a go-ahead 36 yarder with just 9 seconds to play in the game.
Dorman’s season may have come to a tough end, but by no means was this season a wash or a failure for Dave Gutshall. Look at this. Week 0, Dorman didn’t break 100 rushing yards and barely had over 100 passing. They played a very sloppy game that they dropped 20-7 to Clover. They looked like they had no identity on offense and did not even have a quarterback established. As the season went on, Gutshall proved why he is still a gridiron genius. He, as usual, found his QB in Hudson Talley, who developed nicely as the season went on. They established an identity in their run game with Demarius Foster and Chamarryus Bomar emerging as their tandem out of the backfield. They improved each week, and even though they looked like they fell apart over the final month of the season, they really did not.
They faced the toughest in region 2-5A back to back to back, dropping last minute heartbreakers to Byrnes and Spartanburg. But, there is no shame in that. In spite of it, the Cavaliers were right in the mix for the region and were within 1 big play (Andrew Dantin’s game-winning 67 yard TD catch for Spartanburg) of winning the region. They got a tough draw when they fell to 3rd in the region and ended up having to face a very good and tough TL Hanna team, and it took Hanna overtime to beat them. All in all, this was still a good season for the Dorman Cavaliers.
Gaffney 41 Rock Hill 0
Here we have a “16 vs 1” type matchup. Rock Hill just is not very good, and frankly they have not been in a very long time. The Bearcats have not had a decent season in over a decade, back when Joe Montgomery was head coach there, filling the shoes left by Rock Hill legend Jim Ringer. This year, they were 2-6 coming into this matchup with Gaffney.
We don’t need to tell you much about how given Gaffney’s nasty defense, being a 2 win team matched up with them in the playoffs was not going to end well. Gaffney nearly tripled the total offense yardage put up by Rock Hill against their defense. Gaffney had 376 yards (258 rushing, 118 passing) while they only allowed 148 yards of total offense. The Indian defense forced 2 turnovers. The only stat category that favored the Bearcats was time of possession. Rock Hill had the ball 25 minutes and 41 seconds compared to Gaffney’s 22 minutes and 19 seconds.
Some key individual stats for the Indians:
Ken Littlejohn surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season, becoming the 2nd Gaffney running back to hit the thousand mark this season. He had 3 rushing TDs on the night – a 10 yard, 16 yard, and a 69 yard. Tyler Smith had a 15 yard rushing score and a 23 yard receiving TD.
After this dominant shutout, Gaffney will advance to the next round, where they will host one of the more anticipated games in round 2 — a date with the TL Hanna Yellow Jackets. Can Gaffney’s stout defense contain TL Hanna’s rushing attack?
Northwestern 52 Boiling Springs 7
In some of these 4 vs 1 games, you see the 4 seed not even use their starters, knowing they do not really stand a chance to win. They use the JV and C team guys to get some crucial reps and in-game coaching/development. Boiling Springs is different in that they didn’t have to play a bunch of inexperienced youth. Afterall, their roster is majority composed of sophomores already.
Going up against the arguable best team in the Upstate in the Northwestern Trojans, this game was always going to be a blowout. It went exactly how it was supposed to. Northwestern scored on 5 of their 6 drives in the first half, leading 31-0 at the half. The Trojans tacked on 3 more TDs in the 3rd quarter to take a commanding 52-0 lead. Boiling Springs’ lone score came with about 7:00 to play in the game on a 1 yard run from Kam Williams.
If you are a Boiling Springs fan, no doubt you are glad to see this forgettable season finally end. But, this season, as bad as it was, showed us that the Bulldogs have a bright future, no matter who is at the helm of the program. They will have plenty of experience returning next year, and they also have a lot of good young players coming up that will help to give the Bulldogs a lot more depth. I full expect they will be much more competitive and fun to watch next year.
With the win, it sets up a home date with Byrnes in the next round for Northwestern.
Byrnes 30 Mauldin 20
The Mavericks at full health are a dangerous team. I won’t say “luckily for Byrnes” since the Rebels are also plenty talented enough to win without help, but Mauldin was playing down wide receiver/corner Jaedyn Lukus and Strong Safety/Outside Linebacker Deuce Caldwell.
The Rebels were able to take advantage of that and use their passing game to take control of this one, using a lot of passes towards the sideline and across the middle of the field. Gabe Rogers was 17 for 23 with 174 yards and 3 TDs through the air. Four different receivers (Thomas Gregory, Kyai Cook, Colin Imhoff, and Kanai Cook) recorded double digits in receiving yards. Kanai Cook was also effective in the ground game, rushing for 109 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
With this win, the Rebels will look ahead to a very tough road game next week as they will go to Rock Hill to take on the Northwestern Trojans.
Westside 24 Greer 21
In what was a defensive battle, Greer found themselves at the bottom of the roller coaster hill yet again. This season has been full of hills and valleys for the Yellow Jackets, as they have struggled to find consistency up until the last month. Greer, after trailing 10-7 at the half, managed to make a big play on special teams when Malakhi Saunders took the 2nd half kickoff 90 yards to the house to give the Jackets a 14-10 lead that would carry over to the 4th quarter. However, Westside would go on to score 14 unanswered in the 4th to get the 3 point win.
Chapman 63 Blue Ridge 28
Another case of the 1 seed getting a free scrimmage in the first round. Chapman jumped out to a 7-0 lead immediately as Nigel Pate returned the opening kickoff for a TD. They never looked back. From there it became Derrick Miller’s game. Miller ran for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns on 10 touches while also adding 75 receiving yards with a TD reception. Drew Settle was also phenomenal as always, going 15-19 with 288 yards and 3 passing TDs.
Even Chapman’s backups, who came into the game in the 3rd quarter had big nights. Mathai Scott had 83 yards on 8 carries with a TD. Jonah Rollins had a pair of TDs on 5 catches for 75 yards. You could summarize this game by saying it was Chapman just doing Chapman things. Scoring points early, often, and in high numbers.
With the W, the Panthers locked up a date with the Chester Cyclones and their powerful offense in round 2.
Powdersville 45 Broome 44
Out of all the teams that were eliminated from our area last night, this one was no doubt the most heartbreaking. This Broome team features a lot of heart and a lot of talent and they have battled all season long. They have been plagued all season by their depth. Many of their guys play 2-3 ways. They don’t have a sideline full of players so depth and injuries can really hurt a team like this, and it seems like in every close game they played, it came down to letting it slip away in the 4th quarter. They just could not get that 1 big stop.
They have a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball. We all know about Dylan Ramirez, Jamir Dewberry, Braxtin Turner, and Cam Moore. All 4 of those playmakers are also key playmakers on defense for the Centurions. A couple of weeks ago when I saw them play Woodruff, Dylan Ramirez was involved on most of the tackles.
This is not a knock on Broome. Really more of a “You think, Captain Obvious?” statement. But when the bulk of your offense is also playing defense, they’re gonna get tired late. It is nothing a smaller school like Broome can do anything about. But nonetheless, that was what came back to bite them.
Broome’s offense did a tremendous job of keeping up with Powdersville. The difference in the game was that the Centurions opted to go for 2 to take the lead late and failed, helping the Patriots hold on for the 1 point win.
Broome showed a lot of heart this year, and in my book, that is something worth applauding. They will have to replace a lot of pieces as all 4 of the big offensive stars are seniors. But o don’t have any doubt that even in a bit of a rebuild that this Broome team will be fun to watch as they continue to show a strong attitude and heart no matter what the outcome.
Woodruff 55 Southside 7
I don’t know much about the Southside Tigers. But I do know that the Woodruff Wolverines have an offense. The combo of QB Carson Tucker and RB Demarian Elmore is deadly. It was again last night.
Tucker had 3 more passing TDs, one to Goggins, one to Elmore, and one to Mathias Dial. The Wolverines added a special teams TD when Southside fumbled the 2nd half kickoff and Nemo Cochran scooped it up. Korey Scott had a rushing TD. But the story, not just last night, but all year, has been Demarian Elmore.
Elmore has had a quiet/under-the-radar MVP type season. He logged 99 more rushing yards last night, which puts him well over the thousand yard mark. In 10 games this season, he has over 1,200 rushing yards and 20 TDs on the ground. (Thanks to Garrett Mitchell for those stats).
Woodruff has a tough draw next week as they will have to go to take on the perennial 3A power and defending state champion DW Daniel Lions. They’ll need to score early and often or have a big night running the ball from Elmore to tip the scale in their favor. They’re certainly capable. But that’s still a very tough matchup.
Crescent 69 Chesnee 35
Chesnee was badly outmatched with a Crescent team that was the exact opposite of them and they treated it like a 16 vs 1 NCAA tournament game.
The Crescent Tigers are a spread offense that likes to strike quick. They have a super tall and well-built dual threat QB, and 2 big receivers to either side of him. That QB had no trouble rolling out and escaping the pocket to find those big guys for big plays.
On the contrary, Chesnee attempted to run their usual option offense. But they did not use their starters. They went with a lot of C team and Jv players. Freshman Kj Proctor got the start at quarterback. Chesnee struggled mightily as you might expect, with Crescent jumping to a big lead quick. Eventually Chesnee had to switch it up and try to spread it out more themselves to try and get back in this game, which they found some success with. But ultimately, they were outgunned and in just too big a hole to get out of.
Newberry 43 Landrum 7
Landrum has been in a funk ever since their rough upset loss at Chesnee a few weeks ago. They just have not been the same team and they have not been able to get over the hump and get back on the horse. Last night, they went to take on Phil Strickland’s (who is retiring after this season) Newberry Bulldogs, and they got nothing shy of dominated.
Landrum is in similar shoes to Broome. They are a small team numbers wise and they pretty much all play 2 ways. They have depth issues. As a double wing/option offense, it’s tough enough to keep up or get into a shout-out when you fall behind. It’s even tougher when you are lacking depth and are in a funk. Landrum had all that fall against them last night.
But, not to worry. The future is bright for the Cardinals. There are a lot of good freshmen, sophomores, and juniors on the roster that all made big contributions this year that will be back such as QB Titus Poore, Ryan Bunleut, Jesse Bowers, Colton Link, and Braden Mashtare. The future is bright for Landrum. I look for them to be back and even better next year.