Preview capsules for Week Eight of the high school football season

  • Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 12:29 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, October 18, 2013 12:31 a.m.
Staff photo by Mike Adams
North Augusta’s Willie McCloud did some tough running in last week’s loss to Lexington.
Staff photo by Mike Adams North Augusta’s Willie McCloud did some tough running in last week’s loss to Lexington.

North Augusta (6-1, 0-1) at White Knoll (6-1, 1-0)

Last time they played

North Augusta defeated White Knoll 33-0 last season.

Players to watch

North Augusta

• Brandon Maddox, OL/DL. Maddox has been rounding into the form that made him an All-Aiken Standard defensive lineman and now he’ll be called on to help fill the shoes of injured Shrine Bowl offensive tackle Jake Whitley, who’s out with a knee injury. Maddox will be part of a rotation of three players at left tackle along with fellow defensive lineman Colton Johnson and Patrick Lynn, a junior listed at 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds.

• Willie McCloud, RB. It wasn’t his best statistical game, but McCloud is coming off one of his overall best performances where did a lot of tough running between the tackles.

• Keyon West, WR. The Yellow Jackets have a lot of athletic, capable receivers but West stands out with his ability to make spectacular plays and turn routine receptions into breakthrough gains.

White Knoll

• Quin Jones, RB. Jones averaged more than 14 yards per carry in last week’s 35-20 win over Aiken and is closing in on 1,000 yards for the season.

• E’Mond Brown, RB. Brown had nine carries for a team-high 132 yards against Aiken and teams with Jones for a powerful 1-2 punch.

• Christian Taylor, OL. At 6-foot-5 and about 330 pounds, Taylor has college offers Coastal Carolina, Marshall and N.C. State, and he’s received interest from several others.

What this means

This is close to a must-win game for North Augusta if it hopes to win the Region 5-AAAA championship. After last week’s unexpected loss to Lexington in the region opener, the Yellow Jackets can’t afford to give up any more ground to either the Wildcats or Dutch Fork – a winner over South Aiken. If they win tonight, they’ll take care of business with any potential tiebreaker with White Knoll.

Fresh off their victory over Aiken, the Timberwolves are trying to prove they’re for real and one of the top contenders for the region crown. A win tonight would be a huge statement confirming that pursuit.

Keys to the game

In last week’s loss, Lexington was able to move the chains and control the clock for big chunks of the game. White Knoll will try to duplicate that feat by dominating possession of the ball with its running game.

The Timberwolves work primarily out of the I-formation or go to a two-back pro-style formation, allowing them to feed both Jones and Brown. While most of their plays will be runs, the Yellow Jackets have to be conscious of the quarterback Craig Blakey hitting them with an occasional pass. For the season, Blakey’s 35-for-56 for 689 yards and six touchdowns.

“We have to honor the pass,” North Augusta head coach Dan Pippin said. “It seems like whenever they throw it’s a touchdown and they’re not real predictable.”

Pippin said his squad will focus on executing its gameplan. It won’t be as easy without Whitley, who’s definitely out tonight but doesn’t have a torn ACL according to Pippin.

“I hate for injuries to happen, but the other kids have to respond,” Pippin said, knowing Whitley’s absence will leave a void, but one the Jackets must fill to continue their pursuit of a region title. “The kid can’t play, we’ve got to move on. I wish he was playing but we aren’t going to throw in the towel, I can guarantee that.”

What they’re saying

“The biggest thing we’ve got to see is we’re a big game for everybody. People are always going to give us their best shot, so we’ve got to be ready every day – Sunday through Thursday, and not just on Friday,” — Dan Pippin, North Augusta head coach

South Aiken (1-6, 0-1) at Lexington (6-1, 1-0)

Last time they played

South Aiken defeated Lexington 20-14 last season.

Players to watch

South Aiken

• Bo Baldwin, QB. Baldwin will be charged with leading the Thoroughbreds offense and must also identify how the Wildcats are lined up on defense, ensuring that everybody has the correct assignment against expected pressure.

• Damian Brown, RB. Brown carried the load for the T-Breds ground game last week, rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown without help from Adam Allen, who’s expected to return tonight to provide a 1-2 punch out of the backfield to help South Aiken control time of possession.

• Rasool Clemons, DE. Disrupting Lexington’s rhythm on offense will be critical for South Aiken and Clemons is by far their best player at breaking things up with 32 tackles this season – 11 for a loss of yards.

Lexington

• Will Hunter, QB. Hunter is a good athlete who can buy time to find open receivers and has passed for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns this season – including a game-winning 94-yard strike in last week’s upset of North Augusta.

• Garvin Jackson, RB. Jackson is a power runner who can make defenders miss and is coming off a 21-carry, 115-yard performance that included a touchdown.

• Grayson Chumley, LB/RB. Chumley plays with power and had nine tackles last week, including a game-saving stop in the backfield on a fourth-and-1 situation.

What this means

South Aiken is currently on the outside of the Region 5-AAAA race and desperate to get in the mix. Overall, the Thoroughbreds have lost six games in a row since winning their season opener and are trying to snap that skid. Doing it against a region opponent, one that they beat a season ago, would be even sweeter for the club that has been close in many of its setbacks but failed to get over the hump for a critical win.

Lexington is fresh off an upset win at North Augusta and is looking to stay at the top of the region standings. It will have the chance to settle a score from last year’s loss, a season when the Wildcats went 3-8 and missed the playoffs. They’ve already doubled that win total, and barring a huge collapse, are on target to play in the postseason.

“Lexington is playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said South Aiken head coach Jeremy West. “We’ve got to be able to withstand their initial charge and keep the game close.”

Keys to the game

South Aiken’s defense has got to improve in the passing game if it has any chance of winning. While there’s more pressure on the defensive backs to step up their performance, the front seven must apply more pressure to force Hunter into difficult situations. West said his secondary has gotten better each day in practice this week, and that will have to continue through tonight.

“They run the ball well and they’ll try to exploit us through the air,” West said. “Their quarterback and receivers are very good, hit their spots and don’t drop many balls.”

As has been the approach all season, South Aiken will try to establish the running game to keep a dangerous opponent on the sidelines while creating favorable passing opportunities. The T-Breds won’t be physically overwhelmed by the Wildcats, but have to be aware of a savvy defense that has some hard hitters and a knack for knowing where the ball is going.

“They held North Augusta to 14 points,” West said of Lexington, which held the Yellow Jackets well below their average of 43 points per game prior to last week, “they’re doing something right.”

What they’re saying

“We’re trying to get better and put a complete game together on both sides of the ball. We have to get where we need to be on offense and defense in the same game,” — Jeremy West, South Aiken head coach

Dutch Fork (5-2, 1-0) at Aiken (1-6, 0-1)

Last time they played

Dutch Fork defeated Aiken 63-14 last season.

Players to watch

Dutch Fork

• Derek Olenchuk, QB. The Silver Foxes have gotten a lot out of their returning quarterback, who has 1900 yards, 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions while completing 74 percent of his passes.

• Matt Colburn, RB. Colburn has 949 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns despite missing all of one game and most of another. He had 295 yards and five touchdowns against Dorman.

• Lane Ecton, DB. Ecton leads the team with 52 tackles, including four for loss and two sacks. He’s also deflected five passes and blocked a kick.

Aiken

• Tremaine Gaffney, LB. Against such a balanced offense, the Hornets’ linebackers will need to be disciplined and versatile.

• Dramel Coleman, RB/DB. Coleman has been a force in every facet of Aiken’s game, and he may need to add to his four interceptions to keep the Hornets from giving up big yardage.

• Nakeem Spann, RB. Having been hampered by a leg injury since he finally broke through against Irmo, Spann is expected to start tonight.

What this means

The Hornets scored 20 unanswered points a week ago against White Knoll, but the problem was they got down 35-0 before that happened.

Head coach Brian Neal said that his team has to learn how to put together a solid attack for four quarters to be competitive in these four remaining games.

“Going into the game, I thought we were ready to play, and then White Knoll hit us in the mouth a little bit,” he said.

Tonight’s game against defending the defending region champions will be about putting out a solid performance throughout the game, not in spurts they way Aiken has been.

Keys to the game

As impressive as Olenchuk’s numbers are, Neal was more impressed with his command and leadership for the Silver Foxes.

“He’s under control,” Neal said. “He definitely runs the offense.”

Because of that, the biggest challenge for the Hornet defense will be disrupting Olenchuk’s plans with pressure and sure tackling against the running game.

When the Hornets have the ball, that might be the best opportunity to play a different kind of defense, Neal said. If his offensive line can keep things moving for Coleman, Spann and quarterback Caleb Heath, they can limit how many chances the Silver Foxes get.

“We’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage to some extent,” he said.

What they’re saying

“We’ve been competitive at times. I feel good about the way we’ve played when we’ve put things together and done the right thing,” Brian Neal, Aiken head coach

Swansea (5-2, 2-0) at Strom Thurmond (6-1, 2-0)

Last time they played

Strom Thurmond defeated Swansea 42-7 last season.

Players to watch

Swansea

• Travis Loadholt, RB. Loadholt broke Midland Valley’s back with 30 carries for 208 yards and three touchdowns last week, but he also opened the door for the Mustangs with a late fumble.

• Clay Lucas, QB. Lucas is a bit of a “surprise” according to Strom Thurmond coach Lee Sawyer, showing the ability to run and throw so far this season.

• Defensive line. Even after losing star linebacker Johnathan Sutton to a knee injury, the Tigers’ front seven is big and capable of wreaking havoc.

Strom Thurmond

• Jauveer Hammond, QB. The senior has thrown for almost 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns and also has 700 rushing yards and six more scores.

• Chad Gilchrist, RB. The sophomore had his best game of the season in last week’s win over Airport, racking up 150-plus yards and three touchdowns.

• Kenyatta Dunbar, LB. Again the Rebels’ leading tackler with 44, Dunbar and the rest of the linebackers will be important to stopping the Tigers’ offense.

What this means

This game could be important anytime, but with it landing square in the middle of the Region 5-AAA slate for both teams, it will set the tone for the home stretch.

“That’s the key, it’s only two region games left after this,” Sawyer said.

Because of that, the winner will be the only undefeated team in the region and have the upper hand in the tie breaker. With a loss, the Rebels would need the Tigers to lose to both Brookland-Cayce and Gilbert to have a shot at the region crown.

Keys to the game

In addition to Loadholt, the Tigers often bring wide receiver Chance Walker – a “jet,” as described by Sawyer – across the formation to take a handoff. As a result, Walker had 105 rushing yards and a score a week ago against the Mustangs.

“They kind of make you read the keys as far as where they’re going with the football,” said Sawyer.

He also said Loadholt will act as a Wildcat quarterback to further complicate things.

On offense, the focus will be in the trenches.

“We’re just going to have to somehow be able to handle their front seven,” Sawyer said.

Because of the sheer size of the Swansea defensive line, running may be tough sledding as it was for Midland Valley. Sawyer said that may mean a focus on the passing game for the Rebels, something Hammond has become more and more prolific doing as the season has gone on.

What they’re saying

“The winner of this game, it doesn’t win it for you, but it puts you in the driver’s seat,” — Lee Sawyer, Strom Thurmond head coach

Brookland-Cayce (6-1, 1-1) at Midland Valley (4-3, 1-1)

Last time they played

Midland Valley defeated Brookland-Cayce 28-21 last season.

Players to watch

Brookland-Cayce

• Zeke Walker, QB/S. In addition to being a dual threat behind center, Walker is one of two key Bearcats to play both ways. He accounted for more than 240 yards of total offense and two touchdowns against a stout Strom Thurmond defense.

• TJ Myers, RB. Myers battled for a team-best 75 yards in last week’s critical region win over Gilbert.

• Da’jon Amaker, WR/S. Another body the Bearcats use both ways, Amaker’s athleticism is an asset both in the passing game offensively and in the defensive backfield.

Midland Valley

• Daniel Carr, QB. The current Aiken Standard Player of the Week had a monster game in last week’s loss to Swansea when he accounted for 387 yards of total offense and six touchdowns.

• Kameron Brown, WR. Usually when Carr has a big game, so does Brown whose 137-yard, three-touchdown effort moved him to second among all area receivers with 533 yards this season on 33 receptions that has produced nine touchdowns.

• Justin Rogers, DT. The big defensive lineman is expected to return from injury which should shore up the Mustangs run defense.

What this means

Last week, the Mustangs were in control of their playoff destiny with a chance of clinching either first or second place in Region 5-AAA. Following a 47-42 loss to Swansea, they find themselves in a much different position tonight. A loss to the Bearcats will leave them in fourth place in the region, guaranteeing nothing regarding the postseason.

“It’s not a given you’ll go to the playoffs in fourth place,” Midland Valley head coach Rick Knight said. “These next two games (against Brookland-Cayce and Airport) are critical. We’ve got to win these next two.”

The Bearcats are in the same boat. They stormed through the non-region portion of their schedule, going undefeated. But the Bearcats were soundly beaten by Strom Thurmond in their Region 5-AAA opener and can’t afford a second loss if they hope to place second or third.

They did bounce back with a 40-27 win over a solid Gilbert squad, a team the Mustangs defeated 35-28. There’s a lot of familiarity between the programs, beyond being region rivals. Bearcats head coach Rusty Charpia has a lot of connections to Midland Valley, where his father Reed Charpia once served as head coach. Rusty has helped revive B-C after a disappointing 1-9 season in 2012.

“Brookland-Cayce has had a turnaround year,” Knight said. “But we get to play them at home, so that’s a plus.”

Keys to the game

Knight expects the unexpected from B-C. In the past, he’s built a gameplan for the Bearcats based on what they’ve shown in game film, only to see them use brand-new formations and schemes against the Mustangs.

“I have no idea what Brookland-Cayce will run at us. They change everything against us,” said Knight, who conceded that Walker will likely have the ball in his hands a great deal – so limiting the damage he does will be critical. It won’t be easy, especially with Midland Valley’s erratic defense. But it can’t let Walker or the Bearcats other ball carriers run wild or dominate the ball.

What they’re saying

“We have to look at it like this is the first game of the playoffs, double elimination. This is a must game for us,” — Rick Knight, Midland Valley head coach

Ridge Spring-Monetta (4-3, 1-2) at Williston-Elko (6-2, 4-0)

Last time they played

Williston-Elko defeated Ridge Spring-Monetta 55-14 last season.

Players to watch

Ridge Spring-Monetta

• Travious Wigfall, RB. Wigfall is a big part of Ridge Spring-Monetta’s offense. He has rushed for 860 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season.

• Samuel Bedenbaugh, QB. Bedenbaugh has been a big part of the passing game in previous weeks as a receiver, but this week he will be asked to fill in as the quarterback for the Trojans.

• Corey Hopkins, LB. Hopkins is one of the Trojans leading tacklers. He will be important in slowing down the run game of the Blue Devils.

Williston-Elko

• Justice Wallace, DE. Wallace recorded a crucial sack to seal the Blue Devils’ 6-0 win over Hunter-Kinard-Tyler last week.

• Faheem Richburg, WR. Richburg scored the lone touchdown in last week’s win, and he has emerged as a reliable option with 20 catches for 318 yards in addition to some carries in the running game.

• Antonio Coleman, RB. Despite missing some time due to injury, Coleman has 515 yards and seven touchdowns on 77 carries, and he brings a speed element to Williston-Elko’s wishbone attack.

What this means

Ridge Spring-Monetta is coming off of its first region win of the season and is looking to continue that success. The task will be difficult against a physical Williston-Elko squad. The Trojans have improved from last year, and tonight’s game will be a measuring stick of how much of an improvement they have made.

Williston-Elko battled in its win over H-K-T, turning away another potential challenger to the Blue Devils’ Region 4-A throne.

“I was real proud of the grit they showed throughout the entire football game,” head coach Dwayne Garrick said.

A win tonight would clinch that title for the Blue Devils for the fifth straight year.

Keys to the game

Garrick felt the Blue Devils could’ve scored at least 21 points in their win over H-K-T, but holding penalties and fumbles bogged them down. With so much of its offense at least set up by the run, those types of mistakes are even more costly.

“The key word is ‘finish,’” Garrick said of both drives and games. “We’ve got to learn how to finish and put people away.”

Defensively, the Blue Devils showed Garrick something beyond “grit” last week; it showed him that his squad is capable of man coverage. That could help in the pass defense and also free up the front seven to focus on Wigfall and the Trojan backfield.

“He can pick ’em up and put ’em down,” Garrick said of Wigfall’s running ability.

The Trojans were forced to simplify their offense with the absence of Reggie Preston, one of the area’s leading passers. Bedenbaugh will step in for Preston as quarterback, and Corley didn’t want to overload him in his first week.

“We had to simplify, not because of ability, (Samuel) has the ability, but we didn’t want to put him in any situations he wasn’t comfortable in yet,” Corley said.

Ridge Spring-Monetta is expecting the Blue Devils to load up in an attempt to stop the run, but Corley is confident the team can still make plays. He mentioned that the threat of the passing game is not gone.

“If I’m on the Williston-Elko side I’d load up to stop the run,” Corley said. If our offensive line plays well we have a good chance.”

Corley added that on defense his team will have to take some chances in order to stop the Blue Devils’ running game.

What they’re saying

“We can’t keep hanging on like that. We’ve got to be able to put points on the board,” — Dwayne Garrick, Williston-Elko head coach.

“We just have to make enough plays to be in the game in the fourth quarter. That’s the key.” — Heath Corley, Ridge Spring-Monetta head coach

Wagener-Salley (5-2, 2-1) at Fox Creek (5-2, 2-1)

Last time they played

Wagener-Salley defeated Fox Creek 32-0 last season.

Players to watch

Wagener-Salley

• Malcolm Stroman, QB. The senior has cleared the 1,000-yard mark passing, has more than 400 rushing yards and had a hand in 19 total touchdowns.

• Eric Corley, RB. Even after the War Eagles’ bye week, Corley is the area’s top rusher with 875 yards and 16 touchdowns on 125 carries.

• Santrale Moore, OL/DE. In addition to his work opening holes for Stroman and Corley, Moore will be expected to team with fellow end RJ Tyler to contain the Predators’ weapons.

Fox Creek

• Deondré Baskett, QB/DB. The Predators will have to utilize Baskett’s arm and legs to have success. He has 487 passing yards on the season and 343 rushing yards.

• Jaquan Williams, RB. Williams is one of the Predators trio of backs who have been a key part of the running game for Fox Creek. He is the team’s leading rusher.

• Darshon Broadwater, WR. Broadwater is the leading receiver for Fox Creek, and he is also a threat in the return game.

What this means

Fox Creek will be looking to pick up its third region win of the year. The predators have already doubled their win total from last season, and are looking to show more improvement against Wagener-Salley. The Predators will try to avenge the shutout loss suffered at the hands of Wagener-Salley last year.

The War Eagles, meanwhile, are seeking to pick up steam after their week off.

“We’ve talked about with the players, we’ve got three big games going into the playoffs,” said head coach Ken Tucker.

Wagener-Salley has likely secured a spot in the Class A, Division II playoffs, and a region title seems out of reach. With games remaining against the Predators, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler and Ridge Spring-Monetta, region placement and playoff points for good seeds are still on the line.

Keys to the game

Tucker said that Fox Creek’s offense is predicated on misdirection and counters in the running game. That combined with Baskett’s ability to find Broadwater over the top make the work up front paramount.

“We’re going to have to be aggressive up front with them and try to re-establish the line,” he said.

On the other side of the ball, the War Eagles need to get their own running game going to set up the play-action passing game. The biggest target there is Tyler, who has 19 catches for 422 yards and three scores this year, but Tucker said it all depends on Corley and the offensive line making the run a threat.

“It just allows our playmakers to make plays,” he said.

The Predators are well aware of the War Eagles running capabilities. Schneider said the team is not only gearing up to limit Corley, they have also taken note of Stroman’s ability to run the ball.

“They’re fast and big, Schneider said. “We’ll have to do a good job of containing (Stroman) and slowing the running backs down,” Schneider said.

In terms of Fox Creek’s run game it will be boosted by the return of Ikel El. He participated in his first practice on Wednesday, and Schneider said he was running hard in practice.

What they’re saying

“We’d like to finish these last three games pretty strong,” — Ken Tucker, Wagener-Salley head coach

“The kids have done a good job dealing with all of the distractions that comes with homecoming, so I’m feeling pretty good,” — Russ Schneider, Fox Creek head coach

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