Week 9 4A/5A Preview
Gaffney 6-2 (2-0) at Dorman 3-5 (1-1)
Last week Gaffney beat Boiling Springs 17-7, while Dorman came up just short at Byrnes, falling 28-26.
The Indians were locked in a defensive battle with the Bulldogs, and should expect a similar type of game this Friday at Dorman. They leaned heavy on star running back Jaiden McDowell, and once again he responded, finishing the night with over 150 yards from scrimmage and both Indians touchdowns. Dorman has struggled to stop the run for most of the season, and if Gaffney wants to put points on the board, the run game is their best chance. Putting the ball in the air 25+ times would be risky against a Dorman defense that has racked up 8 interceptions over the last 3 games.
Dorman’s defense was able to keep them in the game against Byrnes with a pair of interception returns for touchdowns in the first half, while the offense sputtered early. The offense finally got going in the fourth quarter, with wide receiver K.D. Hainesworth finishing with a pair of touchdown catches to give Dorman a chance at a game tying two-point conversion.
Dorman will need to get things going early on offense if they want to hang around with Gaffney. This Indians team can lean on you, wear you down along the line, and then hit you with big plays on both sides of the ball. Gaffney doesn’t appear to have any glaring weaknesses, so the Cavaliers will need to be great in all three phases. Dorman has gotten big plays on defense and special teams recently, but the offense remains inconsistent. They’ll need to be sharp on that side this Friday, or Gaffney will pull away and set up a winner take all region title match up with Byrnes next week.
Spartanburg 4-4 (0-2) at Boiling Springs 3-6 (0-3)
Spartanburg is coming off of a bye, while the Bulldogs lost to Gaffney.
Boiling Springs held their own against a great Gaffney team, but ultimately came up short again. Points could be scarce for the Bulldogs again, as they face a Vikings team that boasts one of the best defenses in the state. Linebacker Cam Smith is a tackling machine, and defensive lineman Damien Coates can wreak havoc in the backfield. Boiling Springs will need better play along the line if they want to keep quarterback Lincoln Huskey upright all night. Huskey has shown that when he has time, he can be very effective in picking apart defenses.
The Vikings have some questions of their own on offense, most notably the health of quarterback T.J. Johnson. He left the Gaffney game with an injury, and will likely be a game-time decision. If he’s unable to go, I expect the Spartanburg offensive game plan to look very different from what it has so far this season. The Vikings have some playmakers on offense, and I would be curious to see how they find ways to get the ball in Justin Rice’s hands if Johnson can’t go.
At the end of the day, the story of this game is going to be the defenses. Both are playing at a high level right now, and points are going to be very hard to come by on Friday night. Field position is going to be crucial. Whichever team can take advantage of a short field, and finish with touchdowns in the redzone, is going to come away with the win. This game will be huge in determining the final playoff spot in the region (while the loser will get strong consideration for an at-large bid).
Greer 3-5 (2-0) at Wade Hampton 2-6 (0-2)
Greer was on a bye, while the Generals fell to Laurens 23-13.
I’m not going to overthink this one. The Yellow Jackets’ offense has been rolling lately scoring just under 40 points a game over their last 3. Running back LaDanian Martin is healthy and should torch a Wade Hampton defense surrendering 41 points per game.
Look for Greer to go heavy run early, and the Generals won’t be able to stop it. I think Coach Will Young will be the only one who could stop Martin from topping 200 yards on the ground this week. Yellow Jacket should roll and keep their eyes on the region title and a 1 seed in the playoffs.