Round Two Recap
Round number two of the high school football playoffs did not go very well for our local teams, having entered the night with 5 teams still in contention. We are now down to just 2 schools still alive. But that is not all for lack of effort or a bad night like you might expect. Truthfully, we had a few really tough matchups that could have gone either way.
Spartanburg 37 Spring Valley 29
In our Spartanburg Nutrition Game of the Week, the battle of the Vikings, the Vikings were the easy favorite. The Spartanburg Vikings that is..
Success in playoff football, especially the deeper you go, is about endurance, having things bounce your way (for example, Spartanburg helped put their destiny in their hands by winning the region and getting some help via an upset on the other side of the bracket) and responding well to adversity. You have to manage injuries, rest your best players when you can, and be mentally tough. If you don’t do all of that, you will definitely never play your best football when it matters. Spartanburg has been playing their best football all season up to this point. They have been dominating opponents that they should be on both sides of the ball. That trend continued last night.
Raheim Jeter and Tiheem Richardson were a deadly combo, as they connected 3 times for TDs. Drek Carter also had a great night, looking like he is getting more healthy, which makes this team that much more dangerous moving forward into the late rounds.
The scoreboard would lead you to believe that Spring Valley made a game of this, but the truth is that they really got dominated all night long. They trailed 37-7 through 3 quarters before Mark Hodge pulled the first string guys. Spring Valley managed to score 22 unanswered points in garbage time, which came at the hands of a pick, a quick TD, two 2 point conversions, and recovering a pair of onside kicks. It was never close.
Looking ahead, Hillcrest was beaten by Ridge View 47-41, which set up yet another home game for the Vikes in round 3 against the Blazers. Spartanburg continues to have quite possibly the easiest path to the upperstate championship game as long as they continue to keep taking care of business like they have.
Northwestern 42 Byrnes 3
This is absolutely not an indictment against Byrnes. The Rebels have dealt with a little inconsistency as well as major injuries all season (such as losing Mack Long and Elijah Barnes). But, that doesn’t mean they still were not one of the more proficient offenses in the area.
Reggie Shaw’s squad had consistent great outings from QB Gabe Rogers. They also had Kanai Cook do a great job of stepping up to fill the void left by Long’s injury while helping open the offense up for Rogers to connect with the likes of Thomas Gregory and Collin Imhoff. The Rebels managed to find a way to fight back to beat Dorman in a must win region game. They won a tough first round playoff game with Mauldin last week.
Last night, they drew the shortest stick out of all the playoff matchups this week. They had to hit the road to Rock Hill’s District 3 Stadium to face a Northwestern team that has been unstoppable since their season opening loss to South Pointe.
This was honestly a game where Byrnes was going to need to play almost perfect on offense in order to keep up and have a lot of things bounce their way to have a shot. The Rebels were completely outmatched and that shows in how they were dominated and held to just a field goal.
Gabe Rogers was 11-21 for just 137 yards through the air. Kanai Cook and Elijah Barnes combined for only 78 rushing yards on 26 carries. Meanwhile, Northwestern’s Will Mattison went 19-25 with 256 yards and 3 TDs. They had 3 different running backs combine for 103 yards and 2 TDs as well as 6 receivers all in double digits for receiving yards.
That Northwestern Trojan team is easily the best in the upstate right now. But they will have their toughest test since they lost to South Pointe next week as they host that stingy Gaffney defense in the 3rd round. No doubt, if they get past the Indians, it’ll be difficult not to favor them to be the ones to challenge Dutch Fork the first week of December.
Gaffney 34 TL Hanna 26
In the most interesting 5A game of the 2nd round, the Indians hosted the Hanna Yellow Jackets. The style of offense that TLH runs has given opposing defenses fits all season, and it was intriguing to see just how Gaffney’s nasty defense would do against it. As it turns out, it was really more the Indian offense that made the difference in this one.
Grayson Loftis connected with JaDarius Littlejohn for 2 long TD passes of 47 and 49 yards. Tyler Smith rushed for 3 TDs of 2, 43, and 18 yards. In total, Gaffney’s offense ran for 210 yards, passed for 187, and were 3 yards shy of 400 total.
On the flip side, Gaffney’s defense was very effective stopping the Jackets’ rushing attack, holding them to less than 100 yards.
With the win, Dan Jones surpassed Joe Montgomery as the 2nd winningest coach in Gaffney history, now at 109 career victories. Looking forward, we have the most anticipated matchup since the Spartanburg-Dorman rivalry game 2 weeks ago in the next round. Gaffney will go to Northwestern to face Will Mattison and that potent offense. Will Gaffney’s defense disrupt Northwestern and give Grayson Loftis and crew a shot?
Chester 33 Chapman 28
Here’s another tough and intriguing matchup. We all know who Chapman is and what they do. But Chester is an equally talented team that is really on the same plane as the Panthers. They both can score points in bunches and they both have their struggles on the defensive side of the ball. All the ingredients for a game where you easily take the over, right?
It sure looked that way up until the 3rd quarter. Neither team could score in the red zone. Chester drove down the field and missed a fieldgoal. But they got the ball back via a pick. Chapman’s defense forced a turnover on downs on the ensuing possession. Chapman came up with 1 more turnover with a pick late in the 3rd. It was 21-17 as they went to the 4th.
Chapman took a 28-17 lead with about 10:00 to play in the game when the game completely flipped on its head. Chapman was about to score again when they fumbled the ball into the endzone and the Cyclones fell on it for a touchback. A few plays later, they got a big circus play — an 87 yard TD pass that was tipped by a Chapman defender and caught off the deflection. The Cyclones went for 2 to make it a 3 point game with 6:00 to play.
Chester intercepted Drew Settle as the game was headed to its final minutes and converted a 4th and 1 from the 2 en route to taking the lead on a 1 yard TD run on another 4th and short by QB Zan Dunham. They converted the 2 to make it 33-28 with :15 to play.
Chapman’s loss sets up an intriguing game next week between Chester and the unbeaten Powdersville Patriots. Powdersville has gone under the radar to be undefeated. They are sneaky good with a strong defense and a potent offense. They have not played a particularly tough schedule, but they have beaten the teams they should convincingly. With these 2 offenses, we could see another fun shootout next week.
Daniel 49 Woodruff 21
This, like the Byrnes-Northwestern game, was a real tough draw for the Wolverines. Woodruff would have needed to jump to an early lead and play ball control in order to keep pressure on the Lions. A few breaks bouncing their way couldn’t have hurt either.
Unfortunately for Woodruff, that did not happen. The Wolverines and Lions both got off to slow starts, with the Lions finally jumping to a 7-0 lead on a pick 6 with 1:52 to play in the 1st.
Woodruff only fell into a deeper hole, as they were down 14-0 midway through the 2nd quarter. Woodruff trailed 21-7 at the half. For the rest of the game, they’d trade blows, but the 2 score deficit proved to be too much.
Hats off to Woodruff though. This team battled through a lot of adversity this season. They lost Carson Tucker a week into the season with a hip injury. They had a covid shutdown shortly after that. Carson returned after 3 weeks looking as if he had not missed a beat. So much went wrong. Yet they still managed to stay in contention. They were a win over Chapman away from winning the region. This football team showed a lot of heart.
Woodruff’s loss sets up a date for a possible upset next week as Clinton will travel to Daniel. Clinton is a good team and they are capable of doing what Woodruff could not last night. They can control the clock. They run the ball. They can score quickly. Could the Red Devils disappoint the Lions next week? Time will tell.