Week 4 Recap
This Friday night, I made my first trip down to Wilder Stadium, home of the Clinton Red Devils, for the first time since I was 5 years old. The name was fitting for both the game and this week in general. Let’s dive into what happened on the gridiron in week 4 of the 2023 high school football season.
Chapman 22 Clinton 21
Wilder Stadium lived up to the name in this matchup of 2 teams that, if we are being honest, are not on a matter of “if”, but “when” as far as a playoff matchup between them goes. Aside from Belton-Honea Path, Daniel, and Broome, both the Red Devils and Panthers are easily among the best in the upperstate in the 3A classification.
The Panthers received the opening kickoff of this 5th meeting between the 2 sides since 2020 and marched 80 yards right down the field, scoring when Coleman Gray hit Shawn Cunningham in the flat, and he escaped for a 65 yard TD catch and run. It wasn’t the TD that set the tone for the rest of the night, though. It was in the decision to go for 2.
Chapman ensured they would put the pressure on Clinton to keep up by going for 2, and they succeeded. From that point on, the game was all about missed opportunities, many of which were self-inflicted for both teams.
After Clinton tied it at 8 on their ensuing possession, the game turned sloppy and lopsided in the penalty margin. Clinton, with their offensive line that returned just 1 starter from last season, has been prone to commit a lot of holds and false starts. They got a lot of them – especially holds. The emotion of the game led to several personal fouls called as well. It seemed that every time the Red Devils found some momentum, they could not get out of their own way. In total, the Red Devils were penalized 16 times for 142 yards compared to Chapman’s 11 yellow hankies for 99 yards.
On the flip side, the Panthers leaned heavily on big plays behind the legs of Mathai Scott, Coleman Gray, and via the hands of Shawn Cunningham. They were able to move the ball, but apparently made a conscious decision not to kick fieldgoals but rather go for it on 4th down, especially in the redzone. Chapman turned it over on downs 3 times, all after reclaiming the lead 15-8 on a 58 yard TD run by Coleman Gray.
That 15-8 score held up until the 1:24 mark of the 3rd quarter when the Red Devils used some trickery to tie it via a 35 yard halfback pass from Rhett Gilliam to Keleja Byrd.
With momentum shifting, the Panthers needed an answer, and it was ultimately Coleman Gray that took the team on his shoulders and delivered. Chapman opened the 4th quarter with a nice drive capped by a hard-fought 2 yard TD rush by Gray, with the ensuing PAT making it 22-15.
The 2 sides came up empty on their next 2 series, with Clinton going 3 and out and the Panthers turning it over on downs at the Clinton 2 yard line – which set up the wild finish.
With 1:40 left on the clock, Clinton QB TuShuawan Richardson, a junior with good elusiveness and ability to change directions in a dime as well as make ridiculous throws from weird angles – not quite like Patrick Mahomes, but more like former Chapman QB Colton Bailey, took his team on his shoulders. They used short passes along the outside and quickly getting out of bounds to drive into the red zone. It came down to a goal line stand and Richardsonn delivered, hitting on a 5 yard slant for a TD as the clock hit zero.
Following precedent, the Red Devils went for the win. And why not? It is a playoff preview against a good team at home in the regular season. It did not work out as planned, as the Panthers got pressure on Richardson and flushed him from the pocket. He threw towards the middle of the endzone in desperation, only to have the pass batted away by Chapman senior linebacker Reece Lynch, securing the win for the Panthers with no time on the clock.
As mentioned earlier, Coleman Gray took the Panthers on his shoulders and demonstrated just how much of a tough, physical, and capable dual threat he can be. He had 17 rushes for 161 yards and 2 TDs. But that isn’t to overshadow his arm. He also completed 8 of 17 passes for 153 yards with a TD and a pick.
Shawn Cunningham led the receiving corps, hauling in 6 of Gray’s passes for 137 yards while Mathai Scott ran the ball 8 times for 94 yards to go with his 2 receptions for 16.
Chapman, now 4-1 on the season, will take on Union County next week in Inman.
Northwestern 49 Gaffney 24
Many will look at this score and say that it is the biggest surprise of the week. The truth? It isn’t. The Northwestern Trojans are loaded on both sides of the ball, and even with all the athletes Gaffney has, this game was never going to be easy. That was evident from square one as the Trojans returned the opening kickoff for a TD.
Don’t get me wrong. Gaffney is a good team and they have checked off every box since they opened the season with a tough loss to Crest. Riley Staton has shown improvement, even in having faced such nasty defenses as South Pointe and Mallard Creek. Despite that, Gaffney has leaned heavily on their defense and big plays from the likes of Emazon Littlejohn and Jaiden McDowell. Staton has not had a bad game or faced enough adversity. He did Friday night.
Riley struggled with accuracy and decision making for much of the game with several overthrows, a pick, and some moments where he held on to the ball for too long. All things that are typical of a first-year starter.
Ultimately, the Indians were just overpowered by the stifling defense of the Trojans and the speed and athleticism of Turbo Richard. The game was honestly over by half with Northwestern up 35-3. But, Gaffney did a good job of not lying down in the 2nd half. Sure, that’s something Gaffney fans will not be satisfied with resting on. But, if you ask Dan Jones, sometimes, it takes a good butt kicking to wake you up and set the rest of the season straight. This is adversity Gaffney needed. The question from here is not if they are in trouble or if they are frauds. This game, rough as it was, is not necessarily indicative of anything. The best teams have a bad night.
The question is how Riley Staton and the Indians respond. The schedule most certainly doesn’t get any easier for them as they go down to Fort Dorchester next week.
Boiling Springs 31 Greer 14
Another unsurprising result in this game. Boiling Springs picked up their first win under Matt Reel a year ago at Dooley Field when they defeated the Yellow Jackets 27-25. This time, the Bulldogs are a much-improved and more experienced squad that has more than proven themselves. On the flipside, Greer, despite having LaDainnian Martin, is just not that good right now. They have struggled all season with Martin being their lone bright spot.
The only surprise here, and a positive for Greer, is that they led the Bulldogs 7-3 after a quarter. From there, it was all Boiling Springs, outscoring them 28-7.
Javen Chhim led the way for the Bulldogs on the ground with 107 rushing yards on 17 attempts. RyShaun Morgan was just 9 yards shy of the century mark with 91 on 15 carries. Lincoln Huskey had just 21 rushing yards on 10 carries, but he scored 3 TDs – one from 7 yards out, another from 6, and a 1 yarder. Husky was also 11 of 20 with 177 yards and a TD.
Eli Mobley was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver with 4 catches for 110 yards, but the lone receiving TD went to Kyle Patterson from 22 yards out.
LaDainnian Martin led the way for Greer with 95 yards and a TD on 14 carries. Chase Byrd hauled in 3 passes for 106 yards with a TD while QB Chris Hall went 6 for 13 with 112 yards and a TD.
Boiling Springs, who has now surpassed last year’s win total with 3, will host Clover in their final non region tune up next week while Greer hosts Westside.
Clover 35 Dorman 13
The Cavaliers, fresh off a bye week, made a change this week. Jake Morris opted to start Riley Scruggs at QB over David Sorenson. Scruggs did not have a bad night — mainly because like South Carolina with their offensive line issues has to air it out a lot with Spencer Rattler, so did Dorman. Scruggs put it up 28 times, completing 17 passes for 243 yards and a pair of TDs. His blemish was that he threw 2 interceptions.
The Cavaliers had 4 receivers in double figures – most notably KD Hainsworth, who had 9 receptions for 178 yards and both receiving TDs. Travon Fernandez logged 62 yards on 6 snags.
Only 1 ball carrier for Dorman put up double digits – Jarvis Pearson, who had 64 yards on 11 touches.
The Cavs essentially found themselves in a 14-0 hole early that they could not dig out of, only managing to pull as close as 14-7 before the Blue Eagles scored 14 unanswered to all but put it away.
Dorman, now 1-3, will go on the road to take on a tough opponent in the River Bluff Gators next week.
- In further “chalk” results, Byrnes handled business after a slow start, scoring 21 unanswered from the 2nd quarter up to the midway point of the 4th quarter for a 28-7 win against Wren and Spartanburg overpowered Riverside with their superior depth for a 49-6 W.
Broome 58 Berea 6
The Broome Centurions offense is hotter than a.. Well, insert cliche metaphor here..
That did not bode well for what was a complete mismatch against the Berea Bulldogs.
The most surprising thing here is that Broome had more passing yardage than rushing. The Centurions amassed 408 yards of total offense – 250 of which came through the air. Jaylen McGill ran for just 48 yards and 2 TDs to go along with 2 catches for 25 yards and a TD.
Kamajay Brackett-Brannon was their leading rusher, going for 110 yards on 9 carries with a TD. That complemented his 11 for 13 night through the air with 250 yards and 3 TDs.
Greyson Bradley pulled in 5 passes for 105 yards to lead the way.
Broome, who has now amassed over 1,000 yards of offense in the last 2 games combined, will host Woodruff next week in what should be quite an intriguing matchup.
Union 20 Laurens 17
In a battle of 2 teams who have struggled mightily this season, especially on defense, this was one that you had to feel good about your chances in if you were the Union County Yellow Jackets.
Union managed to score 34 points on Broome last week. Coming into a matchup against a Raiders squad that had surrendered 210 points over their first 4 games of the season, that had to inspire some confidence in the Jackets.
Laurens jumped out to a 17-7 lead that they carried to the half. From there, it was all running back Cam Owens and the Yellow Jackets. They shut the Raiders out the rest of the way, while Owens added a pair of rushing TDs, both from a yard out to make for 13 unanswered as the Jackets earned a much-needed first win of the season.
Owens led the way with 78 yards on 23 carries with 3 TDs as well as 98 receiving yards on 5 catches. Yellow Jacket backup Quarterback Qa Brannon added 41 yards on 4 attempts and starting QB Keyshon Harden added 33 on 8 rushes. Harden was also 8 for 16 with 105 passing yards.
Union will hit the road to Inman next week to take on the Chapman Panthers.
Woodruff 40 Chesnee 14
Brett Sloan’s Wolverines got back into the win column in strong fashion Friday night, defeating the much-improved Chesnee Eagles at home.
Chesnee slung the ball around a lot in this game, throwing it a total of 30 times – something unheard of with the Eagles over the last few years running an option-style offense. They went 14-30 in total, with KJ Proctor going 13-29 with 130 yards and an interception. Carson Gossett completed his lone pass for 15 yards.
Adonis Burgess led the way with 104 yards on 8 catches. Despite the passing numbers, it was the ground game that accounted for all the scoring for Chesnee.
Austin Bigford scored both of the Eagles’ touchdowns in the game, tallying 66 yards on 11 carries. KJ Proctor was not far off with 60 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
On Woodruff’s end, they set the tone quickly, scoring in just 2 plays on a 64 yard catch and run by Kory Scott. While the Eagles pulled as close as 13-7, Woodruff outscored them 27-8 from there on.
The Wolverines’ passing attack, led by QB TJ Morris, was 13-19 with 272 yards and 3 TDs. Kory Scott was the leading target with 224 total yards on 8 touches with 2 rushing and 1 receiving TD. Aiden Gibson also logged 123 yards on 18 carries with a TD in the win for Woodruff.
Next week, the wolverines go to Broome while Chesnee has their bye week.
Landrum 40 Spartanburg Christian Academy 20
This game went about as one would expect of SCISA depth vs 2A public school depth. Landrum opened up a 40-6 advantage heading into the 4th quarter before the Warriors managed to hang 2 TDs on them to make it look better.
Colton Link was instrumental in the win again on both offense and special teams, logging a 58 yard punt return TD.
AJ Lindsey got the scoring party started, and also ended it, breaking things open with a 45 yard TD run up the gut, and then nabbing a pick 6 late in the 3rd quarter. Another guy by the same first name – AJ Medvar, followed it with a 45 yard catch and run on a screen for a TD. Colton Link added a 2 yard rushing TD to make for the 19-6 advantage at the half that the redbirds only added to when Landrum recovered an onside kick to start the 2nd half, leading to a 34 yard TD scamper by QB Titus Poore.
The Cardinals will have a big battle next week at home as they take on another nearby rival in the Blue Ridge Tigers.