AS WE MOVE into week five of the season, there are 22 ranked football teams with unblemished records in South Carolina. Of those, five are from the Midlands.
The question is “can any of those break the apparent curse” on Midlands teams when it comes to winning a state title? No team from the Midlands has captured a 4A championship since 1993, when coach Joe Wingard’s Richland Northeast Cavaliers won the Division II title over Hartsville. There hasn’t been a 4A-DI winner since coach Jerry Brown’s Spring Valley Vikings won in 1988. Blythewood won a 3A crown in 2006, Batesburg-Leesville won the 2A title in 2005, and in Class A, we have to go all the way back to 1975’s Swansea team coached by Doug Bennett.
So, here’s a look at our five undefeated teams and whether or not they can break that curse:.
Brookland-Cayce Bearcats (5-0): The Bearcats are 5-0 for the first time since 2004. That said, this team is a long shot at a title appearance. They are not dependable enough in the passing game to balance an offensive attack that will be needed in the 3A playoff bracket. They also turn the ball over, and they won’t be able to overcome that against a strong 3A lower state field. This team could finish 9-1 or 8-2 in the regular season and have a respectable round or two of the playoffs.
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Dutch Fork Silver Foxes (4-0): This team is a favorite in the run for a title. Losing Jordan Berry to graduation has forced this team to get better in the passing game by spreading the ball out more. Derek Olenchuk is a good high school quarterback and running back Matthew Colburn is one of the top three or four running backs in 4A. Defensively, there are some areas they will need to improve upon, especially in the pass defense.
Dutch Fork can finish regular season 11-0, 10-1 at the worst.
Fairfield-Central Griffins (4-0): The Griffins are stronger this year than last, and they have an excellent chance at getting back to the title game and competing for the championship. With DeAndre Belton running the offense, the Griffs are explosive and have beaten four good football teams. I don’t see a team remaining on their regular season schedule that should cause them problems.
Spring Valley Vikings (4-0): The Vikings have not faced a quality opponent yet. I’m not sure they will face a huge test this season, though their region rivals always play them tough. Their defense applies good pressure to the quarterback and doesn’t give up big plays. Offensively, they are tough to stop, especially when running back John Miller is hot. They need to avoid turnovers to compete in the 4A-DI brackets.
White Knoll Timberwolves (4-0): The Timberwolves haven’t faced a challenging opponent. The combined record of their opponents thus far is 3-14
. White Knoll has a chance at competing for a playoff spot out of Region V-4A but that will be the extent of it. I see three potential/probabl losses on their record in Spring Valley, Dutch Fork, and North Augusta and the Lexington game is a rival game that could go either way. If they do slip into the playoffs, I don’t see them getting out of the first round.