commentary

Foxes face tough task

November 27, 2013 

Quarterback Derek Olenchuk will lead Dutch Fork against Byrnes in the Class 4A Division I playoffs Friday.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

Jim Baxter answers questions about high school sports:

QUESTION: What do you think Dutch Fork’s chances are against Byrnes on Friday? Is this the Foxes’ year?

A: Dutch Fork is one of the best-coached teams in the state in terms of the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. There are so few out there focusing on those elements. I was impressed with their performance against Spring Valley and, though I knew it would be a great game, I was surprised the Foxes got the win.

The Foxes can create problems for Byrnes using their two-tight end set, running the screens, and riding Matt Colburn’s ground game. Can they score on the Rebels? Yes; and they can score frequently. I like the match-up in the trenches. The Foxes are so big and well-coached there that they could win that battle.

But Byrnes’ offense is going to be the key to this game, and I don’t think that any team in the state other than Northwestern can slow that offense. I think it will be a heavyweight battle of offenses, but the Rebels will be too potent and outscore Dutch Fork.

Q: Are you guys going to start believing in Sumter now that we beat two big teams? Can the Gamecocks get it done?

A: I was not a believer in the Gamecocks and felt they would be “one and done” in the playoffs. But they executed a great defensive plan against a good Mauldin team and they went on the road last Friday and beat an even better Hillcrest team. They managed to do it with a solid defensive performance and special teams, as it came down to a field goal for the win.

I’m a believer. Summerville has been inconsistent on offense all season and, though they beat an impressive Boiling Springs team last week, the Gamecocks will steal a victory from the Green Wave. I like Sumter’s defense against the Summerville offense.

Now, it’ll be tough for them to win the state championship. Everyone in the 4A brackets except for Byrnes and Northwestern are playing for second place. Northwestern is the best team in the state and will win the Division II title. I don’t see Byrnes losing to anyone remaining in the Division I bracket.

Q: Will anyone be punishedAre there going to be any punishment for what happened in the Lexington vs. Byrnes game

A: If you are referring to the incident with the Byrnes time out and touchdown late in the game, I spoke to coach Bobby Bentley this week. He says the time out was called because his player was down from a late hit, for which Lexington was penalized. I’ve looked at the film, and there were several plays on which the Wildcats were called for personal fouls. Some might believe coach Bentley called the time out for the purpose of scoring another touchdown. I don’t think there will be any additional punishment beyond the penalties called in the game.

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