Week 1 Recap
Chaos. Absolute chaos. That is the only way to accurately describe week 1 (although it was really week 2) of the 2023 high school football season. We had a 3A team upset a perennial 5A powerhouse. The defending 5A state champs that have won 6 out of 7 state titles since the 5A classification was created, were upset. Several local programs under new head coaches picked up their first wins. To put it plainly, we got a week 10 kinda night, and these are the nights that you live for when it comes to high school football. It is what makes high school football so great.
Spartanburg 17 Dutch Fork 6
The Vikings and Silver Foxes are no strangers to one another, having played each other twice a year ago. Round one at Viking Stadium came down to the final seconds, when the Silver Foxes kicked a game-winning field goal to complete a 27-25 comeback. The 2nd round happened in the third round of the playoffs down in Irmo, and did not go near as well for Spartanburg.
The Vikings once again made the trek down I-26 Friday hoping to finally break through against Tom Knotts’ perennial juggernaut. They did just that, using some clutch plays on the defensive side of the ball.
Spartanburg drew first blood on a 27 yard field goal from Will Love with 7:05 to play in the 1st stanza, capping a 12 play, 46 yard drive.
Dutch Fork managed to string together a couple of drives in the 2nd quarter, one of 11 plays for 40 yards and the other for 8 plays and 12 yards, with each ending in a field goal, giving the Foxes a narrow 6-3 margin that held up until the 4th quarter, thanks in part to a huge interception by Demario Bookhart that ended a Dutch Fork drive deep in the red zone.
Justin Rice gave the Vikings the lead for good when he hauled in a 12 yard pass from TJ Johnson for the game’s first TD with 6:23 to play, capping a 16 play, 76 yard drive.
It was the defense that sealed it when Damion Coates recovered a fumble forced by Cam Smith and took it 2 yards on the scoop-n-score with 6 seconds to play.
TJ Johnson went 10 for 16 with 77 yards through the air with a TD, while rushing for 31 yards on 14 attempts. 2 other Vikings rushed for double figures – Trenton Lynch and Trey Harris, Lynch with 51 yards on 8 carries and Harris with 31 on 10 touches.
Spartanburg will look to ride the momentum into an intriguing home matchup against Kamajay Brackett-Brannon, Jaylen McGill, and the Broome Centurions next week.
Chapman 17 Byrnes 14
In 2019, when the Chapman Panthers were in the peak of the Mark Hodge era there, the Panthers defeated Byrnes in a jamboree. While, obviously, nothing much can be said from a 2 quarter preseason scrimmage, it began an interesting debate. With the offensive prowess of the Panthers, could they beat Byrnes in a regular season game?
Last year, we got a chance at having that answered with the Rebels prevailing in overwhelmingly dominant fashion 54-7.
This year, the 2 sides decided to rematch, this time in Inman, and in the early going, it looked like it was going to be deja vu.
Byrnes jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, striking first on a 35 yard TD pass from QB Andrew Stevens to Armoni Weaver, and again on a Tre Segarra 42 yard TD rush.
Shockingly, those 2 1st quarter TDs would be all the offense the Rebels could muster, as the Panther’s defense shut them out the rest of the way, consistently keeping their offense in position to rally back.
With 10:16 to play in the 3rd quarter, the Panthers finally cracked the scoreboard, striking on a 22 yard fieldgoal to cut the deficit to 14-3, which would be the score heading to the fourth quarter.
Following a Byrnes fumble that set the Panthers up near midfield, Coleman Gray capped the drive with a 9 yard TD run to make it a 1 score game.
Once again, the Rebels would kill a drive with a fumble, giving the ball to Chapman at their own 42 with about 6 minutes to play in the game. The Panthers made them pay when Keanu Na bowled his way in for a 2 yard rushing TD to give the Panthers the lead 17-14 with 3:31 to play.
Byrnes had sufficient opportunities to try and come back, but in the end were denied by a game-sealing interception from Shawn Cunningham at the Chapman 25 yard line with just 34 ticks on the clock.
Chapman will turn their attention to another big matchup against a 5A opponent with the next chapter in “The friendliest rivalry” with the resurgent Boiling Springs Bulldogs while Byrnes will take on Greenville.
Boiling Springs 55 Mauldin 0
A week ago, Boiling Springs made a splash despite falling to TL Hanna 34-26. The Bulldogs outplayed the Yellow Jackets, but in the end, could not quite complete the comeback despite a few chances. They followed that effort up by making a statement on the road at Mauldin.
Let’s call a spade a spade for the sake of getting the obvious out of the way. Mauldin is young and has a new staff. So, yes, it could be argued the opponent isn’t good. But, that would require complete ignorance of what they managed to do against a good TL Hanna team a week ago.
The fact of the matter is that Boiling Springs did something they haven’t in a while – absolutely dominated an opponent that they were better than.
Lincoln Huskey was absolutely phenomenal, going 18 of 23 for 333 yards and 5 TDs. Two Bulldog receivers tallied in double figures – Sophomore Grayson Crowe , who logged 80 yards on 4 snags with a TD, and Tre’Sean Taylor, who had 70 yards on 4 catches. Javen Chhim led the rushing attack with 44 yards on 9 attempts.
The Bulldog defense held the Mavs to under 150 yards of total offense in the shutout, which was Boiling Springs’ first shutout victory since October 2020, when they blew out Fort Mill 63-0.
All of that suffices to say that if you are counting continued signs of progress as the measure of success for 2023 for Matt Reel’s squad, this was definitely a huge step forward.
The Bulldogs will get a huge litmus test next week as they host the Chapman Panthers fresh off their huge upset win over Byrnes.
Dorman 34 North Augusta 13
Jake Morris picked up his first win as the head coach at his alma mater in fairly dominant fashion, as his Cavaliers routed the North Augusta Yellow Jackets.
Dorman struggled to get their offense going in a loss on the road last week at Greenville, falling down 28-6 before mounting a furious comeback. This week, no doubt they were looking to get off to a better start in front of their home crowd, and they did exactly that.
The Cavs drew first blood with 4:15 to play in the 1st when QB David Sorenson hit K.D. Hainsworth for a 60 yard TD pass, capping a 2 play, 57 yard drive. They added on early in the 2nd quarter when Sorenson ran it in from a yard out to put the exclamation point on a 9 play, 47 yard scoring drive.
The 2 sides traded blows the rest of the half, going into the intermission with the Cavaliers up 21-7.
After the Yellow Jackets cut the deficit to 1 score on their opening drive of the 2nd half, the Cavies responded with 14 unanswered to put it away.
David Sorenson aired it out for a total of 125 yards on 7 completions in 11 attempts with a TD. He also ran for 44 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 13 carries. KD Hainsworth hauled in 3 passes from Sorenson for 78 yards with a TD, while Keenan Arcega-Whiteside had 3 receptions for 43 yards. TJ Gassoway was the leading rusher for the Cavaliers with 69 yards on 11 touches.
Dorman will take to the road next week for a date with the Greenwood Eagles.
Gaffney 63 Union 7- Game of the Week
Gaffney was angry after getting outplayed by Crest on the road last week and looking, not for a confidence builder, but for more of a punching bag to relieve their frustrations on. Unfortunately for Union County, that did not bode well. The Yellow Jackets lost a lot from the team that competed with Gaffney before a thunderstorm ultimately led to the cancellation of the remainder of the revival of the “Highway 18 Rivalry” a year ago at Union County Stadium.
Gaffney? Polar opposite. All their offensive firepower save for Grayson Loftis and Suga Jefferies are back. It did not take long for new Indian QB Riley Staton and company to put this game away.
Jaiden McDowell got the scoring started early with a 50+ yard run in the first minute of the game. The Indians piled on 42 unanswered before Union finally got on the board with their lone TD of the night with 3:47 to play in the 1st half.
The 2nd half was played with a running clock, but that was about the only mercy given to Brian Thompson’s team, as the Indians scalped the Jackets.
Things aren’t easy from here out for Dan Jones’ squad as Gaffney hosts South Pointe next week, followed by Mallard Creek, Northwestern, and Fort Dorchester consecutively leading to their region opener against Spartanburg.
Union goes on the road to York next week, looking to avoid an 0-3 start.
Hillcrest 41 Greer 20
It can be argued that nobody has had a more brutal schedule these first 2 weeks than the Greer Yellow Jackets. They opened last week to the tune of a blowout 48-20 loss to Daniel. This week, they traveled to Simpsonville to take on the Hillcrest Rams.
Prior to the game, it was made public that star running back LaDainnian Martin would not play for the Yellow Jackets. Yet despite that, the game got off to a promising start. Neither team scored until Greer broke the goose egg with 2:22 to play in the 1st quarter on a 1 yard TD rush by Chris Hall. It all went downhill from there.
The Rams went on to score 34 unanswered points behind a pair of Avery McFadden TDs – 1 rushing and 1 receiving. Greer went on to pull back within 2 scores on a pair of TDs in the 4th quarter, a rushing and a receiving TD by Chris Hall before Avery McFadden sealed the deal with another rushing TD with 5:12 to play in the game.
Greer was led by Chris Hall, who only averaged about 3 yards per carry, but had 35 yards on 13 carries with 2 TDs. The Yellow Jackets used 2 QBs- Kaden Rowland, who went 7 for 9 with 74 yards and a TD, and Keedyn Platt, who was 8-21 with 96 passing yards. Chase Byrd and Brock Diggins led the way receiving, with Byrd hauling in 8 passes for 96 yards and Diggins snagging 5 for 58 yards.
Greer will look to avoid an 0-3 start next week as they travel up highway 14 to take on their rivals at Blue Ridge.
Broome 49 Chesnee 20
The Centurions “shocked the world” (not really if you know anything about the weapons they have) when they went to Powdersville and beat the Patriots last week thanks to a game-saving tackle to stop a 2 point conversion by Chance Williams.
If they had any doubters (which would be nothing short of ignorance) after last week, Powdersville gave Abbeville everything, at one point leading them by 3 scores before the Panthers rallied all the way back. Broome also followed last week’s win up with a dominant performance this week.
Broome established dominance from square one in this game. They scored on each of their first 3 drives – each of over 60 yards, and each ending in a TD. On the first one, Senior RB/CB went up the gut and spun his way into the end zone for a 7 yard TD. The 2nd score came on a 32 yard strike where Kamajay Brackett-Brannon checked down to Junior Wideout Grayson Bradley who broke a tackle and cut towards the sideline and took off for the TD untouched until he broke the plane of the goal line. On the 3rd drive, Jaylen McGill scored his first TD when he cut to the right side of the defense on a run off tackle and found a seam, avoiding an ankle grab tackle attempt as he waltzed into the end zone.
Chesnee finally found paydirt on their 3rd series of the night when Carson Gossett pitched the ball to Noah Lawter along the sideline for a 9 yard TD, cutting the deficit to 21-7.
From there, it was all Broome until late in the 3rd quarter when Gossett once again connected with Noah Lawter on a pitch, who broke loose for a 50 yard run, cutting it to 35-14. Chesnee would muster just one more score on the final play of the game – a long 41 yard TD pass from Gossett to Kaylob Blanton, who scored as the horn sounded to make for the final score of 49-20.
Make no mistake about it, Broome should never be discredited. I also won’t discredit what Chesnee did to Blue Ridge last week. I still think Chesnee is a much-improved team that was just over matched in this one. A lot of teams are going to be outmatched when they face the likes of KBB and Jaylen McGill. They both have natural speed, elusiveness, and are a holy terror that you will have to find a way to contain if you want to have a shot at beating Broome.
Speaking of the dynamic duo, Brackett-Brannon was 5 for 11 with 83 yards and 3 TDs to go with 10 rushes for 120 yards. McGill was the star of the show with 16 carries for 193 yards and 3 TDs as well as a 14 yard receiving TD. Sophomore wideout Tre’Sean Suber also had a receiving TD as part of his 2 snags for 31 yards.
Chesnee’s 2 QBs, KJay Proctor and Carson Gossett combined to go 16-25 with 166 yards and a TD. Gossett accounted for 122 of them. Noah Lawter logged 136 yards and 2 TDs on 11 rushing attempts. Kaylob Blanton had 6 catches for 93 yards and the lone receiving TD of the night for the Eagles.
Chesnee will hit the road again Friday to face the Walhalla Razorbacks while the Centurions have an interesting matchup with Mark Hodge and the Vikings just up the road from them.
Woodruff 44 Fountain Inn 6
Woodruff defeated the Fountain Inn Fury 44-6 for the first win of new Head Coach Brett Sloan’s tenure to even their season record at 1-1. New Woodruff QB TJ Morris had 3 TD passes- 2 of them to Kori Moates and 1 to a Kory of a different spelling (Kory Scott). Tre Rodgers added 2 more TD runs while Freshman Aiden Gibson had his first TD rush.
Woodruff will have a tough road test next week as they go to JL Mann.
Landrum 36 Berea 7
Brent Bridges picked up his first win as head coach at Landrum behind an epic performance from Colton Link, who had 4 rushing TDs. A pick 6 from Ty Foster made for the final blow, as Landrum dominated their way past the Berea Bulldogs for the 2nd consecutive year to open their season.
They will look to go to 2-0 next week on the road in a place that has not historically been kind to them as they face the Saint Joe’s Knights.