There is no question Dutch Fork football has taken a meaningful step up in rank under Tom Knotts, who made his reputation while leading two different Charlotte area high schools to seven North Carolina state championships.
The Silver Foxes have gone 29-9 to date in three seasons under Knotts, winning three straight region titles with a combined 15-0 conference report card. But Dutch Fork has not yet made the leap to true championship contender status. DF has lost back-to-back second-round games at home under Knotts.
The goal is to alter the postseason equation this Friday when the Silver Foxes host Boiling Springs, who scored an upset win over Blythewood last week. Dutch Fork opened the Class 4A Division I sweepstakes with an easy 49-21 win over Hillcrest.
The win featured big-numbers performances by quarterback Derek Olenchuk, running back Matt Colburn and receiver Jordan Berry. Olenchulk was 29-for-32 passing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Colburn dashed for 185 yards and five scores on 22 carries. Berry hauled in 17 Olenchuk pitches for 245 yards and one tally.
Lineman Auntrell Mack, who was credited with six tackles and three tackles for loss, was the DF defensive headliner.
Olenchuk is 222-for-323 passing this season for 2,930 yards and 13 TDs.
Colburn is up to 997 yards and 15 touchdowns on 114 carries. Not bad, considering he has been a starter for just three games. Since the Lexington game in the penultimate game of the regular season, Colburn has been sensational with 811 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 11.2 yards per carry and 270.3 yards per game.
Berrys school-record haul against Hillcrest put him at 108 receptions for 1,642 yards and nine touchdowns to date.
Lane Ecton (76 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions) is the Silver Foxes defensive stalwart with teammates Marcus Taylor (63 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack), Jamar Winston (61 tackles, 5 TFL, 5 sacks) and Omar Staley (45 tackles, 10 TFL, 8 sacks) providing solid backing.
As if Dutch Fork needed any extra motivation this week, the opposition is Boiling Springs which upset the Silver Foxes, 28-27, in the second round a year ago. The Bulldogs from Spartanburg County raced to a 31-0 lead but had to hold on to finally dispatch Blythewood 44-36 a week ago.