Three things we know
He keeps raising the bar
It’s hard to top Gilbert running back Jakayus Leaphart, but the senior keeps besting himself.
He started the season with 146 yards, and two weeks ago notched 274 yards and five touchdowns. This week, in leading the Indians to a win, Leaphart posted three more touchdowns and 287 yards. He scored on runs of 57, 34 and 47 yards. Few running back – Batesburg-Leesville’s Terrance Wilson and Dutch Fork’s Matt Colburn – have been as reliably productive this season. The Indians have one regular season game remaining, and at the rate he’s going, Leaphart might crack 300 yards.
That was a classy move
At the end of their first drive of the game, the Skyhawks gave the ball to senior Blaire Epting, who ran untouched for a 5-yard touchdown.
It was the first career carry for Epting, who had served as a team manager for three years. Epting had not been able to play football because he has dwarfism and is unable to tackle. But on Senior Night at Edens Stadium, there was no need for that. Augusta Christian agreed not to tackle Epting on the play, and Hammond allowed the Lions to return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to even the score. The result was not just a 44-20 win for the undefeated Hammond Skyhawks, but a special memory for one of the team’s most loved members.
It’s almost over
This is the final week of the regular season for South Carolina football except SCHSL Class 4A. Playoff pairings will be set by this time next week, and championship weekend is around the corner. Playoffs begin Nov. 7, and state championships will be played Nov. 21-22 for SCISA, Nov. 28 for SCHSL Class A and 2A, and Dec. 6 for SCHSL Class 3A and 4A.
Three things we don’t know
Will Spring Valley bounce back?
The Vikings (5-4, 1-3), who average 26 points per game, were held to 12 points and 286 yards in a loss against Dutch Fork. Spring Valley closes its season with Ridge View and undefeated region leader Westwood. To have a shot at the postseason, the Vikings need quality wins to close out the regular season. To do that, Spring Valley must cure its fourth-quarter woes.
Who will dominate Region 5-4A?
With Irmo’s win over Lexington, the Yellow Jackets are 2-1 in region 5-4A, and one of three teams with a shot at the region title. White Knoll has won seven in a row and is undefeated in the region, but faces River Bluff, the conference’s other 2-1 squad, next week. While other regions have their playoff seedings fairly well solidified, Region 5-4A will not be clear until week 12, when Irmo and River Bluff go head-to-head.
Will Dreher or Camden make it to the playoffs?
Though both Dreher and Camden have been placed on probation and barred from postseason competition after a fight between some of their players on Oct. 17, both teams won their games this week and are in a three-way tie for first place in Region 4-3A at 3-1. The programs have both submitted requests for appeals to keep their playoff hopes alive, but with one week left in the regular season, time is running out.
Three top performers
Georgi Hristova, Irmo: Kicked a 47-yard field goal
Jakayus Leaphart, Gilbert: Rushed for 287 yards and three touchdowns
Tate Fant, Dutch Fork: Completed 23 of 31 passes for 189 yards and rushed for a touchdown
Three to watch
DUTCH FORK AT WESTWOOD
This game will determine the region championship. Both teams are undefeated in the region; Westwood is 9-0 overall while the visiting Silver Foxes are 7-2. The teams have nearly identical scoring margins – the Redhawks have averaged 44 points and allowed 8; Dutch Fork averages 46 points and allows 11 per game.
BROOKLAND-CAYCE AT AIRPORT
The Bearcats won their matchup in the second week of the season but have lost three in a row at the end of the season. Airport is on a three-game win streak and looking to hold on to second place in region 5-3A.
PELION AT KEENAN
The host Raiders and Pelion Panthers are both coming off losses and looking to keep themselves in the playoff picture. Pelion needs a big defensive effort to slow the Raiders, who are averaging 31 points and 358 yards. Pelion averages 26 points.
What they said
“We wondered when the light would come on. I’m not sure came on too bright, but it came on to some extent.”
— Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts, on the Silver Foxes’ fourth-quarter rally at Spring Valley
“We haven’t done anything the easy way all season, starting with getting off to a 0-4 start.”
— Swansea coach Chad Leaphart, on clinching the Region 5-3A title with a 24-18 win at Brookland-Cayce
“He is, hands down, the best player in the state.”
— Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson on Mr. Football finalist Dupree Hart, who posted five touchdowns and 404 all-purpose yards this week
Akilah Imani Nelson