Week 9 Recap
The penultimate week of the 2023 high school football season has come and gone and the playoff picture/region championships are set. Next week is going to be loaded with region championship games locally. But, before we can get there, let’s dive in to what happened this week.
Gaffney 29 Dorman 14
The Dorman Cavaliers have been surprisingly competitive since they started region play with a win over Boiling Springs a month ago. They were 3 plays away fro upsetting Byrnes last week, and came into their final home game of the season against the region championship favorite Gaffney Indians confident and looking to pull an upset.
Once again, they were competitive, but in the end they were out matched. The 2 sides were scoreless going into the 2nd quarter after Dorman squandered a chance to take a 1st quarter lead via a missed fieldgoal with just under 4 minutes to play in the stanza.
Gaffney would draw first blood just a little over a minute into the 2nd frame when Jaiden McDowell punched it in from 4 yards out. After Dorman missed yet another fieldgoal, the Indians added on with a 31 yard TD strike from Riley Staton to Emazon Littlejohn, but Jake Spadavecchia missed the PAT, leaving the lead at 13-0 with 5:39 to play in the half.
Dorman finally broke into the score column with about 2 minutes to play in the half, taking advantage of a Gaffney fumble that set them up at their own 43. They went 57 yards, scoring on a 15 yard TD pass from Brice O’Neal to Travion Fernandez to cut the deficit to 13-7.
The Indians answered quickly via a 29 yard TD pass from Staton to Drew Medley that made for the halftime margin of 20-7.
Gaffney would add a Spadavecchia 25 yard fieldgoal on their first series of the 2nd half to make it 23-7 before Dorman once again found paydirt on Brice O’Neal’s 2nd TD pass of the night to Travon Fernandez, this time from 13 yards out.
In the waning seconds of the 3rd quarter, it was the Indians that salted it away on a 14 yard TD run by Riley Staton, but could not convert the 2.
Riley Staton finished the night 17 for 30 with 231 yards and 2 TDs to go along with his rushing TD. Jaiden McDowell tabbed 28 carries for 147 yards with a TD to lead the Indians’ rushing attack. Jamarcus Smith hauled in 6 catches for 80 yards and a TD.
On the Dorman side of things, Brice O’Neal was 24 of 47 with 311 yards and 2 TDs. The run game was virtually non-existent for the Cavs, with their leading rusher being TJ Jassoway with just 3 attempts for 41 yards. Fernandez totaled 61 yards on 5 receptions, including both of their TDs to lead the Cavs’ passing attack.
Dorman will wrap up the regular season next week with the annual renewing of The City Rivalry on the road at Viking Stadium next week while the Indians will host Byrnes, who was on bye this week, with the region 2-5A title on the line.
Boiling Springs 24 Spartanburg 17
This game had the looks of being a low scoring and ugly slugfest on paper. Both offenses have been inconsistent, with Boiling Springs experiencing just a hair more success in that department thanks in part to their QB Lincoln Huskey. Spartanburg’s offensive line has struggled all year, leading to the Vikings being able to average just around 14 points per game. The thing these 2 squads had in common was that they both have extremely physical and stingy defenses. That was what made this look like a 6-3 final on paper.
But, it gets worse. Spartanburg also came into this game short-handed with quite a bit of their roster either unable to play (for undisclosed reasons) or injured. What looked like a 6-3 kind of game, by kickoff Friday night, looked more like it could be an old-school 3-0 slobberknocker.
Fortunately, these 2 squads proved that paper is typically wrong.
The Vikings, due to injury to TJ Johnson, had to go with Sophomore Trey Burke as their starting quarterback. Burke drew first blood for Spartanburg when he hit Justin Rice for a 33 yard TD on 4th and 7 with about 8:00 to play in the first quarter. That would be all the offense they could muster in the first half.
Boiling Springs went on to score the next 24 unanswered. Husky and the Bulldogs answered the Vikes’ opening TD drive with an 80 yard drive of their own, capped by a 3 yard TD run by Lincoln himself to tie it at 7. After forcing a 3 and out on Spartan High’s next possession, a 40 yard punt return set the stage for the Dogs to strike again at the plus 20 yardline. Minutes later, Husky connected with Kyle Patterson for a 19 yard TD to the back of the endzone, giving the Bulldogs the lead they would not relent.
Jeremiah Favorite added on with a 37 yard pick six to make it 21-7, and kicker Michael Dueck tacked on a 32 yard fieldgoal with just 16 ticks to play in the half, making for the margin at the break.
Spartanburg came roaring back in the 2nd half thanks to some help from their special teams unit. Kicker Will Love added a 34 yard fieldgoal to cut the deficit to 24-10 with 6:05 to play in the 3rd quarter. About 2 minutes later, the Vikings blocked a Boiling Springs punt, returned 12 yards by Peyton Jones for a TD to make for what would be the final score in the game.
Spartanburg wasn’t without opportunities to flip this one. But, when asked, as they have done all season, the Bulldog defense stepped up and kept them in this game. On one instance, the Vikings were driving into the Boiling Springs end of the field looking to at least tie it at 24 when JoJo Barrett forced a fumble recovered by fellow senior linebacker Kohen Sloand. The Vikings turned it over twice more, both on downs, with the 2nd one pretty much putting the game on ice.
Lincoln Huskey only ended up playing a half in this game, exiting just prior to the start of the 3rd quarter with what appears to be a shoulder injury. Despite that, his line was solid. He was 9-13 with 101 yards and a TD to go along with his rushing TD. Eli Mobley was the leading receiver with just 2 snags for 49 yards. Kyle Patterson also hauled in a pair of receptions for 35 yards and a TD. Javen Chhim logged 43 yards on 14 carries to lead the ground game.
Spartanburg was led by Trey Burke, who finished 10 for 21 with 127 yards and a TD. Freshman Tailback Trenton Lynch led the rushing attack with 12 touches for 72 yards.
The win, which was the first over Spartanburg in 4 years, and their first ever over a team coached by Mark Hodge, ended the regular season for Boiling Springs with a 4-6 (1-3 region) record, doubling their win total from Matt Reel’s first season at the helm a year ago. The Bulldogs also locked up a berth in the playoffs with the victory, marking their 2nd straight playoff appearance. They’ll have a bye week to rest up and get healthy before finding out their destination next Friday night.
In the 4A ranks, Greer took care of business and then some against one of their close-by rivals Wade Hampton. Both LaDainninan Martin and Chris Hall tallied over 100 yards rushing – Martin with 152 and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries, and Hall with 113 and a TD on 9 attempts. Nick Holmes also added 2 rushing TDs to go with his 74 yards on 4 touches. Brock Diggins led the receiving game with 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 4 catches. Tycorion Gist also had a receiving TD on 2 catches for 46 yards. Of note, Kaden Rowland, the backup QB also had a TD run late in the 4th quarter that made for the final margin, as the Yellow Jackets throttled the Generals 65-7 to set up the “Battle of Greer” next week as they host the Riverside Warriors at Dooley Field with the region 2-4A title on the line to wrap up the regular season.
3A continues to go exactly as expected.
- Chapman continued their trend of jumping ahead early and continuing to pour in while playing solid defense. They traveled to Blue Ridge and struck on just the 3rd play from scrimmage, capping a 52 yard drive with a 23 yard TD scamper by Coleman Gray. They converted the 2, as is also an established trend for Harry Cabaniss’ Panthers to go up 8-0, never looking back. Blue Ridge scored 2 garbage time TDs to make it look respectable, but Chapman scored 30 unanswered out of the gate, cruising to a 50-21 win to stay undefeated in region play, setting up a winner-take-all date with the Broome Centurions next week. Coleman Gray was 5-5 for 117 yards and 2 TDs through the air with 5 carries for 49 yards. Mathai Scott tallied just 42 rushing yards, but had 3 TDs to lead the ground game. Ra’Shawn Cunningham was the leading receiver with 3 catches for 77 yards.
- Broome once again amassed over 450 yards of total offense, 368 of which came on the ground, as they eased into a 55-6 win over the Carolina Trojans. Unsurprisingly, Jaylen McGill led the way with 12 rushes for 228 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kamajay Brackett-Brannon was the next closest with just 5 attempts for 75 yards and a pair of TDs. He was also 6 of 9 passing for 67 yards and a TD. The lone passing TD was thrown to Tre’Sean Suber, who had 4 snags for 33 yards to go with it.
- Woodruff was on bye this week. They face Union on the road next week in their regular season finale.
Emerald 49 Union County 35
On a chilly and damp Union County Fair Friday night, the Yellow Jackets hosted the Emerald Vikings with a playoff berth on the line. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. These 2 defenses have struggled and then some this year. Following the shootout last night, the Vikes have given up nearly 300 points (298 to be exact) this season. Union has not fared much better. In fact, they have been much worse. Granted, when you have Broome, Chapman, Clinton, and Chester to contend with, you can’t help but give up lots of points. But, in total, the Jackets have now surrendered 444 points following last night.
Needless to say, the score is far from being 2 strong offenses going at it. Don’t get me wrong. Both teams have some playmakers that definitely had their chances to shine. Union County Sophomore QB Qa Brannon has a particularly strong arm for a sophomore. While he was only flushed from the pocket 3 times and only was pressured a couple of times, he did exactly what any Qb with a decent arm should do when he is not under pressure. He completed 6 of 19 passes for 157 yards and 2 TDs with his lone blemish being a pair of picks, one of which seasled the game for Emerald late. Wide receiver Quan Jeter had a whale of a game on both special teams and offense, logging a 90 yard kickoff return TD as well as hauling in 2 passes for 84 yards and a TD. Ej Jeter also had a TD reception to go with his 3 snags for 48 yards. But make no mistake, the star of this Union County offense is and has been Cam Owens.
The senior running back was shaking tacklers and breaking off big run plays all night long, amassing 119 yards on 21 carries with a TD.
In the end, this game came down to just a couple of moments late in the 4th quarter. After trading blows all 2nd half, Emerald took a 42-35 lead with just under 9 minutes to play in the game. The Yellow Jackets went 3 and out on their ensuing offensive series, and made a crucial mistake, getting called for a kick-catch interference on the fair catch attempt, setting the Vikings up in plus territory. At the Union 12, facing a 4th and 10, they converted on a slant that set up a 1 yard TD run by KD Abney on the very next play that made it a 2 score game with 3:59 left on the clock.
Union managed to drive it down into the Vikings’ red zone needing a score to keep their hopes alive, but Brannon was flushed and threw back towards the middle of the field, overthrowing his target and getting picked off. The interception was returned to the Emerald 44, where the Vikings were able to melt the clock the rest of the way.
Union County, still looking for their first region win of the year, will have to beat the Woodruff Wolverines in their regular season home finale next week, and do so handily in order to keep their season alive and get into the 3A playoffs. It’s not outside the realm of possibilities, but with Woodruff’s offensive resurgence this season, it will likely take the best game of the season for the Yellow Jackets’ struggling defense to make it happen.
Ninety-Six 27 Chesnee 20
The Eagles took to the road with a chance to maybe lock up the 2 seed out of region 1-2A Friday night. Chesnee has established themselves as an offensive threat, having turned heads ever since region play got underway. The Eagles offense was solid once again in a lower-scoring affair than what we have been accustomed to seeing out of them this year, amassing 366 yards of total offense. Only 158 of those came via the run.
KJay Proctor went 12 of 21 for 208 yards and a TD with an interception in the game. Five different Chesnee receivers logged double figures with Hayden Webb and Kaylob Blanton leading the way. Blanton had 81 yards on 5 catches with a TD. Webb hauled in 3 passes for 71 yards. Austin Bigford led the ground attack with 116 yards on 17 rushing attempts with a pair of TDs.
Chesnee drew first blood in the game on the 3rd play, when Proctor hit Kaylob Blanton for a 44 yard TD pass to go up 7-0. From there, the Wildcats scored the next 27 unanswered before the Eagles put up a furious 2nd half rally.
In the end, the game came down to a goal line stand on 4th down, which oddly enough was how the first half also ended. That is sure to leave Chesnee fans with a whole lot of “what if” from this game. But, the good news is that the Eagles are locked into the playoffs and will be either the 3 or 4 seed depending on how their home regular season finale goes next week against Liberty.
Landrum was the lone team locally that ended up having their game moved up to Thursday due to the forecasted potential inclement weather. They went on the road to Liberty, where their tough go at it through region play continued, as they fell 40-33.
The Cardinals had a late lead in this one, being up 7 with 3:30 to play. Liberty cut the deficit to 1 with a quick TD, failed the 2 point try, and then recovered an onside kick that set the Red Devils up for a TD and a 2 point conversion to go up 7 with 29 ticks left on the clock. It came down to a last second heave that was batted down in triple coverage going for Colton Link deep.
Link ran for 3 TDs, while QB Titus Poore ran for 1 and threw for another in the loss.
Landrum, still looking for their first region win, must beat Blacksburg in the regular season finale next week to secure a playoff spot.