Lower Richland (3-2) vs. Dreher (4-1)
Site: The Diamond Mine. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: LR finished non-region testing with a winning record for the first time since 1995, which gives the Diamond Hornets a shot at posting its first overall winning record since 1992. Darryl Page rotates quarterbacks heath Gilmore and Howard Henderson. Gilmore is 23-for-44 passing for 361 yards and four touchdowns and has 132 yards and one TD by land. Henderson, a transfer from Dreher, is 31-for-81 passing for 310 yards and four scores. D’Andre Smith is the top running threat with 436 yards and two TDs on 76 carries. Jontai Jackson (17-248-3) and Larry Collins (11-262-4) are the top receivers Once again, a weak non-region schedule casts doubt on Dreher’s Region 5-3A projection. Last year, the Blue Devils went 5-0 and finished 7-3 in the regular season but did not make the state playoff cut. A loss to LR in the region opener for the second year in a row will not bode well for the Devils’ postseason aspirations. QB Avery Armstrong is 32-for-56 passing for 661 yards and three touchdowns, and has run for a team-high 389 yards and four TDs. RB Donovan Ward has 378 yards and six scores on 75 carries. Bradford Lemmons is the top receiver with 23 catches for 290 yards and five TDs.
Series history: Lower Richland has won six in a row on the field against Dreher, but last year’s win had to be forfeited. Still, the Diamond Hornets have a commanding 22-7 series lead in the modern era.
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A.C. Flora (2-3) vs. Camden (4-1)
Site: Memorial Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Camden closed non-region play with a convincing 48-20 win over Lakewood. The Bulldogs amassed 411 rushing yards on the way to the rout with Brandon Hampton in the forefront. The senior tailback posted 169 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries in less than three full quarters of play. Camden’s first-string defense allowed just seven points before Jimmy Neal called off the dogs. Safety Nelson Semple led the way with 10 tackles (six solos), one interception and one PBU. Fellow defensive back Jordan Sumpter had a 38-yard fumble return touchdown. LB Omar Mingo had six tackles and two PBUs. Up front, Jace Stukes rang up seven tackles and one sack A.C. Flora has won two in a row after dropped three in a row at the outset. This time, the Falcons turned away Airport, 24-10. Most of the highlights were on the defensive side. Linebacker James Croffie had 14 tackles, five TFL, three sacks and two caused fumbles. Croffie had plenty of help from spur Austin Foster (10 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 QB pressure) and safety Rion Davis (10 tackles, 1 interception). Fullback Aven Pollard was the headliner on offense with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
Series history: Flora has won two in a row, but Camden’s series lead stands at 14-5.
Chapin (2-3) vs. Westwood (2-3)
Site: Cecil Woolbright Field. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Westwood closed non-region testing with an impressive 32-14 win over 4A district rival Ridge View. The Redhawks are primed to make a serious run at the top of Region 5-3A. The conference opener will be telling for the second-year team. Christian Brown has emerged as Westwood’s go-to running back after starting the season primarily as a defender. Brown ran for a season-high 154 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries last week. He now leads the team with 445 rushing yards. QB Chris Patterson has 419 yards passing and three TD passes and 258 yards rushing and one scoring run on the books. Adonus Lee (20-312-3) and Vyncint Smith (11-191-1) are fine receivers. Westwood’s biggest improvement has been on defense behind the play of Stephen Timmons (32 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks), Raymond Hall (29 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks), Bradley Carter (19 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks) and Deante Drakeford (27 tackles, 2 interceptions) Chapin endured yet another inconsistent non-region showing, but the Eagles hope to put it together again when it matters the most. QB Matt Charpia is 84-for-124 passing for 1,126 yards and nine touchdowns. Carter White (20-407-2) and Brandon Livingston (17-200-1) have emerged as solid receivers. But the running game has been disappointing. On defense, the Eagles have struggled against the run. Linebackers Nate Blakenship and Tyler Weimer led the hit parade with 78 and 60 tackles, respectively.
Series history: Chapin scored a 28-13 win in the first meeting with the Redhawks last fall.
Strom Thurmond (4-1) vs. Brookland-Cayce (5-0)
Site: Strom Thurmond Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Brookland-Cayce’s 5-0 non-region run is one of the big surprises of the season. Can the Bearcats keep it going in Region 5-3A play. B-C will get a good idea od where it stands against the Top 10 Rebels, who have lost only to unbeaten 4A North Augusta. The Bearcats rise has been the result of a new offense that emphasizes the running game. The go-to man in the shotgun, double-wing attack is fullback Ti Myers, who has run for 441 yards and three touchdowns on 94 carries. But the man who makes it work for B-C is senior Zeke Walker who runs the offense at quarterback and anchors the defense at safety. Walker has accounted for 13 touchdowns on offense (seven runs, six passes). Another key factor in the successful formula to date has been the aggressive play of the defense. Grant Petrey (34 tackles) and Kyle Stinson (29 tackles, 2 interceptions) are among the unit leaders Strom Thurmond is coming off a 27-20 loss to North Augusta. QB Jauveer Hammond is the man B-C must somehow contain. Hammonds ran for 134 yards and one TD and was 17-for-31 passing for 231 yards and two scores against NA. Receiver Kendall Hill, who caught six passes for 129 yards last week, is another playmaker of note.
Series history: Strom Thurmond has won five in a row against B-C and leads the series by a 9-4 margin. The Bearcats last success against the Rebels came in 2003.
Airport (1-4) vs. Swansea (3-2)
Site: . Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Swansea ended a two-game losing streak with a 44-14 win over Barnwell. To date, QB Clay Lucas is 60-for-84 passing for 664 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception. RB Travis Loadholt has 446 yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries. Nick Hopkins (19-226-2) and Craig Johnson (18-225-2) are the primary receiving targets. Veteran kicker Arthur Myers has been outstanding, converting 19 of 20 PATs and four of five field goals. Chris Brunswick (47 tackles, 5 TFL), Reggie Hampton (41 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 interception) and Devin Johnson (30 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks) have been the defensive leaders. Hampton had 10 tackles and five tackles for loss against Barnwell Airport is fresh from a 24-10 loss to Lower Richland and is off to its worst start since 2004.
Series history: Swansea halted a three-game losing skid against Airport with a 22-0 win last season. It was the Tigers second win in five tries in the series.
Gilbert (3-2) vs. Midland Valley (3-2)
Site: Tomahawk Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Gilbert had a productive offensive performance during the non-region phase of the season, but a troubling showing on defense is the main concern at the start of the Region 5-3A campaign. The Indians averaged 37.8 points, 177.6 passing yards and 257.8 rushing yards per game in five tune-ups. The defense has yielded an average of 36.6 points and 367 yards per game. QB Mitch Spires is 64-for-115 passing for 888 yards and five touchdowns and has run for 352 yards and 11 scores. RB Jakayus Leaphart has 593 yards rushing and eight TDs on 69 carries. WR Raymond Padgett has 21 catches for 440 yards and three TDs. Gabe McNatt’s 50 tackles tops the hit list on defense Midland Valley closed non-region play with a 35-0 win over 1A Baptist Hill. Cousins Daniel and Dre Carr are the Mustangs offensive playmakers. QB Daniel Carr passed for 166 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 129 yards last week. RB Daniel Carr had 115 yards rushing and one TD on 17 totes.
Series history: Midland Valley was a 33-14 winner in the first meeting of the teams last season.