Here are my keys to victory in top Midlands football matchups this week:
BROOKLAND-CAYCE AT AIKEN: Region play begins, and the Bearcats can ill-afford to make mistakes. No turnovers and limited penalties and a solid ground game could wear down a good Aiken team that has too many players playing both ways. KEY PLAYER: Charles Balkom, RB, Brookland-Cayce
SWANSEA AT AIRPORT: Another region match up. The Eagles have found a different game plan with a replacement quarterback. Balancing his abilities through the air and on the ground and stopping Swansea’s QB from making big plays will be key. KEY PLAYER: Josh Tucker, QB, Airport
DUTCH FORK AT IRMO: Battle for pride — these teams don’t like each other. Dutch Fork has played strong at the quarterback position recently and Irmo has managed to blow leads in two games in the past three weeks. Consistency on defense is a must for Irmo. KEY PLAYER: Cole Douglass, QB, Dutch Fork
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DREHER AT LOWER RICHLAND: Region match up between a Dreher team trying to find it’s groove and a Lower Richland team that is dangerous with the big play. Dreher will need to contain the big-play ability of the Diamond Hornets to avoid an upset. KEY PLAYER: Larry Collins, WR, Lower Richland
SOUTH FLORENCE AT BLYTHEWOOD: The Bengals are on a roll, and the Bruins are licking their wounds after an offensive sputtering last week in a loss to Ridge View. Bruins will need more defense this week than they showed last. KEY PLAYER: David Isreal, QB, Blythewood