Three questions answered; three things we don't know; top players of the week; and more.
Three Questions Answered
Airport's dominance is astounding
The Eagles trounced Midland Valley 38-7 in a game between Region 5-3A's top teams. Airport (6-0, 1-0) was ranked No. 6 in Class 3A but is primed to reach the top five after No. 1 Chester and No. 3 Lake City lost. The Eagles play four teams with losing records, to close the regular season and have a second consecutive region title in their sights.
Hammond still has the touch
The Skyhawks start as many freshman as seniors (three each). But the three-time defending SCISA Class 3A champions know how to make big plays with the game on the line. Trailing Ben Lippen most of the game, Hammond scored 11 points in the game's final two minutes to win 24-21, its 13th consecutive victory dating to last season.
Summerville, Stratford caught a break
The schools faced likely banishment from the Class 4A playoffs after a postgame fight following Summerville's 38-19 win on Sept. 25. Instead, after reviewing video footage, SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton chose to suspend 22 players from between 1 to 3 games while placing the schools on warned status. Other schools placed on probation this decade for fighting (Wilson, Lake City, Marlboro County, Northwestern, et al.) are not happy.
Three Things We Don't Know
Can Chapin really win Region 4-3A?
Scott Earley, Chapin's first-year coach, keeps talking about how lucky his team is. But everyone knows its better to be lucky than good. Chapin, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, is 6-0 after a 24-21 victory against No. 9-ranked Lugoff-Elgin Friday night. Chapin has tough games with defending region champion Chester and Fairfield Central this month. But the Eagles have proved resilient.
Is Gilbert demoralized after Friday night?
The Indians beat rival Batesburg-Leesville last season, but on Friday the Panthers rolled to a 38-7 victory despite Gilbert having a better record. Gilbert has another tough Region 3-2A game with Newberry this week, so the Indians need to recover or face getting buried in a tough region.
How high will C.A. Johnson finish in Region4-A?
The Green Hornets (5-1, 3-0) have already assured themselves of a non-losing season. But their place among the top teams in the region remains unsettled. C.A. Johnson plays Williston-Elko (6-0, 3-0), Hunter-Kinard-Tyler (4-2, 2-1) and Blackville-Hilda (5-1, 3-0) in the final three weeks.
Three Top Performers
Chas Dodd, Byrnes
With his future college coach watching, Dodd threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns as the Rebels lost 42-34 at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.). Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was on hand to watch Dodd, who committed to the Scarlet Knights last summer.
Brandon Quattlebaum, Dutch Fork
Sophomore running back rushed for 171 yards and scored two touchdowns in a 41-33 win at Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
W.T. Murden, Airport
Senior quarterback threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns in 38-7 victory against Midland Valley. Murden also scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter.
Three Top Games for Next Week
Batesburg-Leesville at Strom Thurmond
After a convincing 38-7 victory against rival Gilbert to start Region 3-2A play, Batesburg-Leesville will move up from its No. 10 ranking in Class 2A. But the Panthers will not pass No. 7 Strom Thurmond, which opened region play with a 21-20 victory against Mid-Carolina.
Lugoff-Elgin at Chester
A difficult beginning to Region 4-3A play continues for Lugoff-Elgin. The Demons lost 24-21 at No. 7 Chapin on Friday and must prepare for a trip to formerly top-ranked Chester, (5-1, 0-1) which will drop from the top spot following a 28-24 loss at Fairfield Central. Lugoff-Elgin needs a win or it faces a road game in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Irmo at North Augusta
This game will go a long way to deciding the Region 5-4A title. It pits Irmo's potent offense, featuring RB Mustafa Greene, QB David Olson and WR David Frazier, against a North Augusta defense that has allowed 69 points in six games.
Three Sound Bytes
"These kids believe in what we are teaching and don't believe they will lose in a close situation at the end. I guess you call it a strong will to win just because we think we can." - Chapin coach Scott Earley, after his Eagles beat Lugoff-Elgin 24-21
"Coach (Erik) Kimrey told me to read Joey's eyes and try and make a move on the ball. I saw Joey try to look me off, but when the ball was up in the air, I got a good break on it." - Hammond senior Aaron Walters, whose interception of Ben Lippen's Joey Carter set up the game-winning field goal in a 24-21 Skyhawks win.
"It's something they'll never forget. I know we came out here to play a football game. This was a great opportunity for them. Some of them had never flown before, we went to the beach today. We had a great time." - Byrnes coach Chris Miller, after his Rebels lost 42-34 at St. Thomas Aquinas before 20,000 people in a battle of the nation's top two teams Friday night.