Preview capsules for Week Five of the high school football season

  • Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013 12:35 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, September 27, 2013 4:11 p.m.
Staff photo by Mike Adams
Wagener-Salley’s Eric Corley (15) is the area’s leading rusher heading into tonight’s game against Williston-Elko
Staff photo by Mike Adams Wagener-Salley’s Eric Corley (15) is the area’s leading rusher heading into tonight’s game against Williston-Elko

Wagener-Salley (4-1, 1-0 Region 4-A) at Williston-Elko (3-2, 1-0)

Last time they played

Williston-Elko defeated Wagener-Salley 54-19 last season.

Players to watch

Wagener-Salley

• Eric Corley, RB. Corley has maintained his top spot among area runners with 85 carries for for 672 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

• RJ Tyler, TE/DE. Tyler, a UNC Charlotte commit on offense, will need to stand tall on defense, according to head coach Ken Tucker. The senior has 36 tackles, six tackles for loss and a sack this year.

• Santrale Moore, OL/DE. Moore is the team’s leader in tackles for loss with seven, and he recovered a War Eagle fumble for a touchdown in last week’s win over Blackville-Hilda.

Williston-Elko

• Andrew Milligan, RB. Due in part to injuries to other backs, Milligan has emerged as the Blue Devils’ leading rusher with 42 carries for 283 yards and four touchdowns.

• Dalton Mundy, QB. Mundy accounted for four touchdowns in last week’s thrashing of region foe North, throwing for three and running for another.

• Christian Sapp, WR/DB. In addition to efforts on offense, Sapp is third on the team with 23 tackles to go with two interceptions and a tackle.

What this means

Wagener-Salley took a step forward in Region 4-A play with its 34-27 home win over traditional region power Blackville-Hilda, but this is anything but the traditional Region 4-A.

Head coach Ken Tucker pointed to the balance of the region, saying that even if his team could score a win over four-time defending region champ Williston-Elko, tough games are ahead. Strategically, though, beating the Blue Devils would give the War Eagles an early edge.

“It puts us up one game on Blackville and Williston, and it’s a position that our school hasn’t been in, in a very long time,” Tucker said.

Blue Devil head coach Dwayne Garrick also talked about the advantages of winning against the War Eagles so early in the region slate. He also reiterated what has been his stance about the difficulty of Region 4-A and the importance of every game.

“I don’t think you can lose a game in this region and win the region,” he said.

Keys to the game

On offense, Williston-Elko has been more balanced this year, between the pass and the run and in terms of who gets the ball.

Instead of one back dominating the carries the way Kendric Salley and Jarius Jenkins have in recent years, six Blue Devils have 15 or more carries through five games, and five of them have 100 yards or more.

“It doesn’t change a lot because it’s still the same offense,” Tucker said. “They’ve probably got one of the best offensive lines in Class A football.”

Garrick said that, even though his wishbone attack will provide opportunities for multiple backs inherently, the wealth won’t be as evenly spread this week as it has been against Denmark-Olar and North.

“Well, I don’t think quite as many players are going to touch the ball this week,” he said. “This will be a lot tougher game than the last couple weeks.

When the War Eagles have the ball, Tucker said it would be vital for his team to control the ball and put up points after sustained drives.

“If you’ve watched them the last couple weeks, the defense hads set them up with short fields,” he said. “We can’t let them do that.”

Garrick said that Wagener-Salley’s playmakers, particularly Corley and dual-threat quarterback Malcolm Stroman, are “special players” that will require extra attention. Stroman has thrown for 715 yards and seven touchdowns while running for 247 yards and four scores.

“We’ve got to make sure we know where they are,” Garrick said of the War Eagles’ skill guys.

What they’re saying

“One of the messages after the game Friday night was not to let that win lose his game for us.” — Ken Tucker, Wagener-Salley head coach

“If we win this game, it’s going to give us an advantage. ... It’ll be a really tough football team out of the way.” — Dwayne Garrick, Willison-Elko head coach

South Aiken (1-4) at Spring Valley (4-0)

Last time they played

Spring Valley defeated South Aiken 35-21 last season.

Players to watch

South Aiken

• Adam Allen and Damian Brown, RBs. Allen and Brown have been the focus of the offense, combining to carry the ball 102 times for 590 yards and five touchdowns this season.

• Will Holbrook, LB. Holbrook’s the leader of the Thoroughbred defense which is coming off a strong showing against Strom Thurmond when Holbrook recorded 17 tackles and an interception.

• Matt Albertson, P/WR. Albertson has been a reliable target in the passing game but he’s become a weapon on special teams where his punts can shift the battle of field position in South Aiken’s favor.

Spring Valley

• Christian Miller, LB. The Alabama commitment is one of the best defensive players in the country and is coming off a three-sack performance where he forced two fumbles. His father, Corey Miller, was a star at South Carolina before playing in the NFL.

• John Miller, RB. Miller is the top ball carrier for Vikings and ran 28 times for 289 yards and three touchdowns last week when the team had 65 rushes for 464 yards.

• Chris Adams, QB. Adams is the player who orchestrates the offense and is a threat to pass and run for big yardage.

What this means

South Aiken finds itself in a familiar predicament. It’s desperately looking for a win that will provide points for a potential playoff push, but more importantly will boost morale and reward players for all the hard work. The T-Breds are coming off a hard-fought 21-7 loss to Strom Thurmond in a game it could’ve won if not for turnovers at critical junctures. If they can clean up their mistakes, it would get them that much closer to a breakthrough victory that would be a rallying point for head coach Jeremy West’s squad.

“We’ve got to get a win somewhere,” West said. “When we do, it’ll start going in the right direction.”

South Aiken will also be looking to avenge a loss to Spring Valley from last season. It won’t be easy, as the Vikings have started the 2013 campaign undefeated – albeit against mostly inferior competition. This could be their greatest challenge to date, including a 42-15 win over Lexington.

Keys to the game

South Aiken has got to avoid the self-inflicted wounds that has plagued it in recent weeks – all losses.

“We shouldn’t be making the mistakes we’re making,” West said. “It’s too late in the season, we should be better at holding on to the football and not making crazy penalties in critical situations.”

If the T-Breds can’t improve in this regard, it likely won’t have a chance against the team that was ranked No. 7 in Class AAAA in the most recent South Carolina Prep Football Media Poll. It won’t be easy going against Miller & Co. who have displayed a penchant for forcing turnovers as they fly to the ball.

They must also be disciplined on defense and make sound tackles against the Vikings’ double-wing offense. Spring Valley will spread the ball to a number of players, so South Aiken defenders must make sure they’ve got their assignments covered and stop Viking ball carriers on first contact rather than letting them break loose for game-breaking runs.

While the T-Breds must be ready for a variety of sweeps and misdirection runs, they have to honor the Vikings’ passing game. They can’t be lulled into a false sense of security that Spring Valley won’t pass, as Adams has exploited opponents for approximately 300 yards through the air this season.

Look for Rasool Clemons to play a part in neutralizing Spring Valley’s aerial assault. Clemons is dynamic at breaking through the line and disrupting plays in the backfield. Ten of his 20 tackles on the season are for loss of yards and he consistently draws a double team, if not attention from three blockers. That has created opportunities for his teammates to make plays.

What they’re saying

“Once we get over the hump, this team can accomplish what they want to accomplish but we’re going to struggle until we do that,” — Jeremy West, South Aiken head coach

Baptist Hill (4-1) at Midland Valley (2-2)

Last time they played

Midland Valley defeated Baptist Hill 22-6 last season.

Players to watch

Baptist Hill

• Dakota Holmes, RB. Although the Bobcats are more of a passing team, they’ll do a lot of different things to get the ball in the hands of Holmes, their top playmaker who has rushed for 520 yards this season.

• Dominique Brant and De’Angelo Frasier, WRs. Brant and Frasier are big targets and use their size to make plays over opposing defenders before running past – or through – them, combining for 35 receptions and 629 yards.

• Troy Harrison, QB. Harrison is a capable runner, but is a big-time passer, with his throws accounting for 1,223 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season.

Midland Valley

• Daniel Carr, QB. Carr had his best game of the season in last week’s loss to Silver Bluff, totaling 367 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns while under intense pressure.

• Kameron Brown, WR/S. Brown has come back from an early-season injury with a vengeance, catching 18 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns, completed a pass for 47 yards and will take on a greater role in the Mustangs’ secondary.

• Dré Carr, RB. Midland Valley fed the ball to Dré Carr in last year’s matchup against Baptist Hill and his 24-carry, 192-yard, two-touchdown performance was the difference in the Mustangs’ first win of 2012.

What this means

The Mustangs are looking to right the ship as their good vibes from back-to-back wins were dashed in a 53-33 loss to Silver Bluff last week. They’ll try to regain their winning form and bump the record back over .500 in the last non-region game of the regular season.

“We knew we were going to have problems there, Silver Bluff’s a good team,” said Rick Knight, Midland Valley’s head coach. “We need to get back on track and need a win going into region.”

The Mustangs are also looking to shore up a leaky defense. They’ve allowed opponents to score an average of 40 points per game this season and will need to improve to compete in what looks to be a very challenging Region 5-AAA. Knight suggested some personnel tweaks will be made starting tonight in an effort to improve. In addition to Brown logging more time in the secondary, fellow receiver Justin Mealing also figures to play two ways more often as a possible solution.

Although Baptist Hill is a Class A program, Midland Valley will have its work cut out making strides on defense. The Bobcats, ranked seventh in the South Carolina Prep Football Media Poll, have scored 179 points in five games, operating out of the spread formation.

Keys to the game

The biggest thing for the Mustangs is improving on defense. They have to be able to get some stops in order to keep the offense from trying too hard to compensate. Knight said he’ll try to mix Baptist Hill up with a combination of pressure and extra players dropping back in pass coverage to try and prevent the Bobcats from going deep.

While it will be a challenge going against the Bobcats, the Mustangs are very capable of posting some big numbers. They’re scoring an average of more than 37 points in their past three games.

“They have to deal with us too,” Knight said. “The offense has looked good and played well.”

The passing game is flying high with Daniel Carr throwing to big targets – Brown and Trenton Baughman. Midland Valley works intermediate and deep down the field and has the luxury of workhorse running back Dré Carr to pound the ball on the ground. He’s capable of running for 150 or 200 yards in any game, especially if defenses are focused on stopping the passing game. Look for him to get the ball early and often tonight going against the Bobcats’ 4-3 defense.

What they’re saying

“We’re going to try and get smarter. We can’t get faster in a week,” Rick Knight, Midland Valley head coach

Aiken (1-3) at Irmo (0-4)

Last time they played

Irmo defeated Aiken 17-7 last season.

Players to watch

Aiken

• Dramel Coleman, RB/LB. The reigning Aiken Standard Player of the Week is on fire lately, with three interceptions in the last two weeks to vault into area leaders.

• Caleb Heath, QB. Heath ran for 53 yards and a score and threw for 61 more in the Hornets’ first win of the season last week.

• Jermaine Gaffney, MLB. With a big, physical line across the way for Irmo, the playmaking in the Aiken defense may need to come from the linebacking corps led by Gaffney.

Irmo

• Shyheim Copeland, RB. Copeland had 224 rushing yards and three scores in last week’s close loss to Lexington.

• Demetrius Lewis, QB. A true dual threat, Lewis ran for 108 yards and threw for 161 against Lexington, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Nick Jenkins.

• Andrew Boyton, DL. Boyton leads the team with four tackles for loss and three sacks, but he isn’t as big as his cohorts at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds.

What this means

Aiken is coming off its first win of the season, a 20-7 victory over Richland Northeast at home.

Head coach Brian Neal said that the morale boost from getting into the win column had resulted in a good week of practice, but he added that the Hornets have a tall task ahead of them.

Irmo is winless on the year, but the Yellow Jackets’ four losses are to teams that have combined for 12 wins already this year, and three of the losses were by a touchdown or less. Just a year ago, Irmo lost its first three games before winning 6-of-8 to close out the regular season.

“Well, I hope it carries over to help us,” Neal said of the momentum from last week’s win. “Don’t let the record fool you; Irmo’s a good football team.”

Keys to the game

Just between Copeland and Lewis, Irmo racked up better than 330 rushing yards last week, and Neal said the pair of seniors feeds off each other.

“Those are two playmakers, for sure,” Neal said.

He added that the Lewis – listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds – also wasn’t afraid to throw the ball downfield, which will require the Hornets to be disciplined on defense if they hope to defend all the facets of the game.

“On defense, we’ve got to hold our ground, be fundamentally sound and make plays,” he said.

On both sides of the ball, Neal pointed to a big, athletic line for the Yellow Jackets. Especially when the visiting Hornets have the ball, winning the battle up front will be key for their triple-option offense establishing a ground presence to free Heath up in the passing game.

What they’re saying

“It’ be huge for our program, no doubt about it. ... A win at Irmo would be huge for our program.” — Brian Neal, Aiken head coach

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