Week 2 Recap
This week on the high school gridiron could be described by one word for many of our local teams – positive. No, not positive for covid or anything like that. I mean that this is a week where many are coming out looking at the positives. Here is one big positive for all of us – aside from the air being extra swampy last night, all of our games were played and they all started on time. There was no lightning. That means it was a great early September night for some high school football. So, let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the week presented by Carter Ridgeway Farm Bureau Insurance
Spartanburg 34 Broome 3
Lynn Fleming and Mark Hodge are very good friends and have been for many years, so any chance the 2 can get together to coach against each other is always sure to be a fun time. The last time these 2 faced off, it was in a “bowl” game back during the 2020 season when the SCHSL allowed schools that did not make the playoffs to play one more game. Mark Hodge went on to win round one 40-33 at Viking Stadium.
This game initially looked like it would be one of the more intriguing offensive battles with Raheim Jeter, Que Moore, Andrew Dantin, and freshman phenom running back KeKe Kelly on one side and true dual threat QB Kamajay Brackett-Brannon and another rising star freshman in Broome running back Jaylin McGill on the other side.
However, due to illness, both Brackett-Brannon and McGill would have to miss tonight’s game. Being brutally honest, if Broome were to have a chance in this one, they needed a big night from both of them. Not having them available would make for a tough night.
Spartanburg, as expected, scored early and often. Drek Carter and Keke Kelly both had rushing touchdowns. Raheim Jeter hit Que Moore for a 55 yard passing TD. Andrew Dantin returned a punt for a TD to go up 28-0. It was at that point that Mark Hodge called off the attack dogs, and after Will Love added a fieldgoal right as time expired in the 1st half, Hodge and Fleming agreed to go to a running clock in the 2nd half.
Both mustered just a fieldgoal in the 2nd half.
The positive for Broome is that (hopefully – the extent of their illness is unknown) Brackett-Brannon and McGill will be back next week and they honestly look like they might be a new favorite in region 3-3A so long as they stay healthy.
The positive for Spartanburg is obvious – they got their first win of the season and they got a nice confidence boost as they get ready to go back to murderers row next week at Grayson (Ga).
Boiling Springs 28 Chapman 27
I’ll jump right to the Captain Obvious positives for Boiling Springs. You did it. You got over the Chapman hurdle. That is huge for the Bulldogs. Yes, Chapman is down this year, but you managed to pull out a win in one of the winnable games on your schedule this year. It was sloppy and ugly. But, that doesn’t matter. You finally got over the mental hump that has been plaguing you since 2017, and picked up the first win of the Matt Reel era in the process. Congratulations to both Coach Reel and the Bulldogs.
Boiling Springs appears to have settled on a QB for now, as Lincoln Huskey got his 2nd consecutive start for the Bulldogs in the annual “Cookout Rivalry” (the apparent nickname for what I personally call “the friendliest rivalry in high school sports”). The Bulldog offense, which had mustered just 7 points through their first 2 games of the season and had been relying heavily on running the ball, found a little bit of a stride early on against a struggling Chapman defense.
On their first possession of the game, Boiling Springs went 60 yards in 9 plays, taking 4 minutes and 10 seconds off the clock, a drive capped with an 18 yard TD pass from Huskey to Raymond Ristau on 4th down.
After forcing a 3 and out on Chapman’s ensuing possession, the Bulldogs were set up in plus territory, starting at the Panther 45. They found paydirt again 13 plays later on a 12 yard TD pass from Huskey to Spencer Eison to go up 14-0 early in the 2nd quarter.
From there, Chapman got their offense going, scoring 21 unanswered to take a 21-14 lead to the half.
Boiling Springs tied it on a 9 yard touchdown run by Kam Williams late in the 3rd quarter, and took the lead 28-21 on a 2 yard QB keeper by Lincoln Huskey with 6:02 to play in the game.
But, Chapman fought back. The Panthers answered the Bulldogs’ late surge with a 3 minute 8 second drive capped by a 4 yard TD run by Mathai Scott. The biggest play in the game came on the ensuing PAT, where the snap was botched and the rushed kick was blocked, leading to the Bulldogs holding a slim 28-27 advantage.
After Chapman forced a stop, they would get the ball late with one more chance to go down the field and win it. However, Coleman Gray was picked off by Amayjai Boyd on the first play of the series to all but seal the win for Boiling Springs.
Huskey went 10-17 passing for 154 yards and 2 TDs. Kam Williams led the Bulldogs on the ground with 77 yards and a TD on 28 carries. Spencer Eison hauled in 6 passes for 88 yards and a TD.
For Chapman, Coleman Gray went 16 for 23 with 192 yards and 2 TDs through the air. 122 of those passing yards and both TDs were to Devin Roe. Gray was also the leading rusher with 44 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
Gaffney 14 Hammond 7
Since this game was low scoring, the stats and scoring summaries won’t make for enough content. I do have a little spiel I want to go on about what to think of this game among other things right now.
Many are calling this game the biggest surprise of the week. I am of the opinion it really isn’t all that shocking. Especially when you consider Gaffney’s current state of affairs and the fact that Hammond, though a private school, is just that – a private school that has been a power in SCISA the last few years, is loaded on the defensive side of the ball, and, well, let’s not overlook this crucial tidbit.. they can recruit.
Gaffney, on the flipside, is down one of their top offensive guys with Edward “Suga” Jefferies still sidelined with a severe broken finger that required surgery (he will be out 2 more weeks at least). Not only that, but they have a few injuries in other places. They are banged up right now. That is part of their struggles right now.
Nonetheless, in spite of all that, I think most really expected that Hammond would hang for a while until Gaffney’s superior talent and depth would come through and they’d win comfortably in the end. The same would have happened last week at Union had that game not been canceled despite the early struggles defending the run.
So, is it surprising? A little. But here is what it is definitely not – cause for panic. Gaffney is still loaded with talent and they very well should have not had to rely on a late pick to seal a 1 score win over a SCISA team, regardless of how good they are. But, at the end of the day, the positive is that Gaffney got their first win of the season. Gaffney is banged up right now. But as they get fully healthy as the season goes on, they will be fine. Do not count them out when region play starts.
We know Spartanburg is the favorite in 2-5A right now. We know Dorman and Byrnes are good teams, but they have not been fully tested yet. In essence, what I am saying is to not get too caught up in how things look right now in non region play. Non region games compile a record, but they do not matter unless you are one that thinks high school football rankings mean anything (frankly the fact they make a top 25 poll in high school football is silly).
You won’t miss the playoffs just because you did not win all your non region games. You won’t make the postseason just because you beat a bunch of cupcake teams 1 or 2 classifications below you. Non region games prepare you for the region schedule. Region games determine playoff seeding. The goal with “cupcake season” (or if you’re Spartanburg, “try not to suck” season.. That schedule is brutal..) is to get better and avoid injury. Sometimes, the injury bug bites, but things even out when you’re healthy.
Gaffney will be fine. The only thing that should be super concerning right now is the fact they get penalized a lot. There are some disciplinary issues. Last night they were flagged 10 times for 80 yards.
Byrnes 56 Greenville 28
The Rebels moved to 3-0 on the season with yet another dominant performance on the road at Greenville’s Sirrine Stadium.
Greenville entered 0-2 after tough losses to Dorman and TL Hanna in which they were able to score, but struggled on the defensive side of the ball – particularly at stopping the run. They gave up nearly 400 yards on the ground in the first 2 weeks of the season. This week, however, it was the pass they struggled with.
Colby Shaw had himself a career night, going 20 for 25 passing for 433 yards and 4 TDs. The Rebels amassed 468 passing yards in total on the night with 606 yards of total offense.
Armoni Weaver led the way with 6 snags for 128 yards and 2 TDs. Kyai Cook added 120 yards on 4 catches with a receiving TDs and a kickoff return for a TD. Chamarryus Bomar hauled in 3 passes for 87 yards and a TD.
The Rebs’ rushing attack was still solid, as 4 different ball carriers logged double digit yardage. RJ Livingston and Tyleik Brooks combined for 114 yards and 2 TDs.
Not to take away from Byrnes.. They are a good team. But, one thing we should not be doing is overreacting to things right now. I have said it already and I am going to say it again. Non. Region. Does. Not. Matter. Not as much as you think, Not as much as you want it to. It can tell you what your team is capable of, but it does not reveal who you really are (except in Boiling Springs and Chapman’s cases).
Byrnes has done what good 5A teams are supposed to do to 2 rebuilding 3A opponents and a 4A opponent with a defense that just is not very good. Region play is where the men are separated from the boys. That is where we are really going to find out just HOW good this Byrnes team is. They are good. But they are not battle tested in the same way Gaffney and Spartanburg have been in non-region.
Dorman 49 Greenwood 14
In similar fashion to Byrnes, Dorman went 3-0 with a dominant win over the visiting Greenwood Eagles last night. No sugarcoating here, either.. Same as with Byrnes. It is a win, but it is a game they were supposed to win against a struggling team that is a whole classification under them. They did exactly what they were supposed to.
Aside from winning, the big positive for Dorman is that Hudson Talley looks like he has built that arm confidence I have been saying he needed to build over the last few weeks. Dorman has found the balance they need on the offensive side of the ball over these last 2 games and that will only help them going forward.
From a number standpoint, the Cavaliers still ran the ball more than they passed last night. They ran the ball 27 times for 192 yards. Demarius Foster accounted for 146 of them on 15 carries with 2 TDs. Kendell Lewis and DJ Porter combined for 76 yards on 10 touches. That run game no doubt helped open the door for Hudson Talley to take some shots. Talley was 18 of 24 for 244 yards with 3 fairly long TD passes. One to Jarvis Pearson for 21 yards. Another to Travon Fernandez for 33 yards. And one to DJ Porter for 41 yards.
The Dorman receiving corps was led by Fernandez, who had 99 yards on 6 catches, and DJ Porter, who hauled in 5 for 68 yards.
The Cavs also hung a couple of TDs on defense with 2 scoop and scores. LeDrico McCologh and Terrell Edwards had fumble recoveries for a TD on consecutive series.
Greer 56 Blue Ridge 20
The rivalry between the Tigers and Yellow Jackets was renewed last night at Dooley Field. Greer entered 0-2 and looking to take out some pent up frustration from their 0-2 start in which they lost 2 tough games to Daniel and Hillcrest. In the end, and the positive for them is that they picked up their first win of the season by doing exactly that.
Greer set the tone early, taking the ball to start the game and going on a little over a 3:00 drive capped by a 44 yard connection from Kaden Rowland to Chase Byrd. Greer would go on to score 2 more times in the 1st quarter on a 36 yard TD pass to Brock Diggins and a 6 yard TD run by Ladainnian Martin.
The Jackets just kept piling on with 3 more TDs in the 2nd quarter to take a 42-13 lead to the half, and outscored the Tigers 14-7 in the 2nd half.
Martin led the way for the Jackets’ offense with 217 yards on 16 carries and 4 touchdowns as well as 35 receiving yards on 1 catch, earning him our Fox Sports Spartanburg Player of the Week award.
Chase Byrd also contributed with 123 yards on 2 catches for 2 TDs. QB Kaden Rowland was 8 of 10 passing for 252 yards and 3 TDs and 6 rushes for 14 yards.
JL Mann 21 Woodruff 3
Woodruff hosted a 5A opponent last night in the JL Mann Patriots, who have been a pleasant surprise so far this season. They are now 3-0 for the first time in 11 years after knocking off Woodruff last night. They opened the season with a win over Eastside and then beat a good Riverside team last week in a defensive ballgame.
This week, they once again found themselves in a battle between 2 very good defenses. Woodruff’s defense has been the big story of their season so far, having given up just a TD all season in their week 0 opener against Chapman. JL Mann entered last night having only surrendered 21 points in their first 2 games. This game had barn burner written all over it.
JL Mann drew first blood, going down the field on the game opening drive for a TD. From there, they traded punts up until the 9:31 mark of the 2nd quarter when Woodruff scored their only points of the night on a 24 yard fieldgoal by Logan Gaspar. JL Mann answered with a long drive to take a 14-4 lead to the half. Neither team would get much going in the 2nd half until JL Mann struck with 10:32 to play in the game.
The positive in this for Woodruff is that you battled hard with a 5A team all night long. While non region games don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, they can tell you little bits about who a team is or has potential to be. One thing that we can confirm so far is that Woodruff is going to give offenses fits and will keep them in games when we get to the meat of the schedule. If they can get just enough production out of their playmakers on offense in Carson Tucker, Nemo Cochran, and Tae Goggins, they might just be a dark horse in their region.
York 70 Union County 49
Do you like offense? Then boy, would you have loved this wild back and forth. Union County has been one of the more interesting stories in our coverage area so far this season, having opened with a win at Newberry in week 0, and having gone toe to toe with Gaffney before the game was ultimately canceled and deemed a no contest due to inclement weather with 2:00 to play in the 1st quarter.
So, what to make of Union so far? I know I am beating a dead horse, but I am still gonna say it again.. Non region games don’t matter. But, sometimes they do give you an idea of what teams could be when they get into the “real season” when region play starts. At this point, we have found that the Yellow Jackets do have a good offense. The duo of QB Ben Black and WR MJ Porter is fun to watch. Running Back Cam Owens has shown that he will be a name we say a lot this year as well.
Those 3 all had big games again in last night’s back and forth tussle with the York Cougars. Ben Black was 15 for 29 with 175 yards and 4 TDs. Porter hauled in 8 passes for 119 yards and 2 TDs. Cam Owens ran for 216 yards on 22 carries with 2 TDs. Union had a couple more receivers log a score last night as well. Will Turner had 38 yards on 3 snags with 1 TD and Khristian Means had 1 catch for a 6 yard TD.
This game was dueling banjos until late in the 4th quarter when York scored 14 unanswered to pull away.
So, going back to what we make of Union so far.. Non region so far has not shown us what they might be on the defensive side of the ball. York had only played one game prior to last night, beating Nation Ford 33-20. You can infer they at least have an offense that has a proclivity for scoring points in bunches. So, it stands to reason that they were outmatched a bit last night. I have to be honest.. Had it not stormed last week and the Gaffney game played out, though Union’s offense was keeping pace, eventually Gaffney’s depth would have shown through and they’d have done the same thing late that York did last night and pulled away. However, even if that were the case, the Yellow Jackets would probably still be ok once they get into region play, because they’d be better matched.
In short, the Yellow Jackets have the offensive weapons to make a lot of noise. But their defense is still a question mark. Because they have played a tough non region schedule to this point, save for a rebuilding Newberry, it has seemed like they might struggle down the stretch. But, not everything is as it seems with non region. If you formulated arguments for how good a team is based on on region, Spartanburg would be terrible, Dorman and Byrnes are world beaters, and Gaffney is in a heap of trouble. We all know those statements are laughably far from true. Union’s true colors will better show later on. Just like with Gaffney, give them some time.
Walhalla 42 Chesnee 30
The Chesnee Eagles through non region play so far have shown to have the same problem they have had the last couple of years. They can hang points and move the ball. Even when they dig themselves into an early hole, they can battle back and hang for a while. But, they let games get away from them in the 2nd half. That happened again last night.
The Razorbacks jumped out to a 2 score lead early, and were up 16-0 with around 4:00 to play in the 1st when Chesnee finally broke onto the scoreboard on a long 40 yard 4th down TD run by Davion Stradford to make it 16-7. That score held until Stradford scored again on a 33 yard TD pass from KJ Proctor that cut the deficit to 16-14 with about 4:00 to go in the half.
Walhalla answered with a TD drive to go back up 2 scores with around half a minute to play in the half.
Chesnee got the ball to start the 2nd half and went on a drive that ended in a 32 yard fieldgoal by Ezequiel Lazarin to cut it to 22-17. Chesnee would take the lead 23-22 after capitalizing on a fumble on Walhalla’s ensuing possession to score on a 5 yard run by Damarius McDowell.
It was short-lived as Walhalla reclaimed the lead on their next possession set up by a couple of big plays. Chesnee would muster one more long drive to tie it at 30. Walhalla responded with 12 unanswered on 2 long drives that ate up most of the final quarter to pull away.
It is no secret that with Abbeville and Liberty in their region, Chesnee is going to need to make the most of every offensive possession in region play, trying not to fall behind. They have the potential with their offense’s ability to sustain drives and control the clock to hang with anyone (there’s their positive). But, can they manage to control the clock enough to not give opponents in region a chance to pull away in the 2nd half? Can Chesnee find a way to finish games?
St. Joe’s 54 Landrum 13
Last week, Landrum opened the season with a big win over a 4A opponent on the road at Berea. Colton Link earned our player of the week honor with 175 rushing yards and 3 TDs. This week, they hosted a familiar foe – the Saint Joseph Catholic School Knights.
St Joe’s and Landrum have similar offensive styles. So, naturally, your inclination is to think that this game is over in 2 to 2 and a half hours and both teams just wear the grass out running the ball. Shockingly, that was not the case early on. St. Joe’s won the toss and elected to receive, and on their opening drive, they got Landrum on their heels quickly. St Joseph’s, while they did not do anything big or take any deep shots, they came out doing the unexpected and passed the ball. Swing passes and screens helped them go right down the field and they took the early 7-0 lead.
Things only snowballed from there for the Cardinals. The Landrum offense could not get anything going. On each of their first 7 possessions of the game, they struggled to move the ball. Each of those possessions resulted in a punt. To compound things, the punt game was not strong for the Cards. Shanks, short punts, etc all kept setting the Knights up with short fields. After that first possession, St Joe’s went back to their typical offense and ran the ball with ease.
In short, it was just a tough night for Landrum. They could not stay with their blocks early on, couldn’t move the ball, and were missing a lot of arm tackle attempts. It almost seemed as if mentally, they were never in the game.
The lone positive from the game as far as playing goes is that Colton Link added another couple of rushing TDs to his resume. Beyond that, these next 2 weeks are winnable games as they renew their rivalry with Polk County next week, and take on Spartanburg Christian Academy the following week.
Ultimately, the biggest positive for the Cardinals is that they should be just fine as they get into region play. They did not sustain any injuries last night and should they stay healthy, they won’t face another team as strong as St Joe’s until they face Abbeville and Liberty in consecutive weeks in region play.
That’s a wrap on week 2! Have a safe and happy Labor Day and enjoy the start of college football. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!