It was an offseason of change for the Irmo High football program. Those changes have paid off through the first two games.
The Yellow Jackets defeated J.L. Mann 49-7 on Friday to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2006. The 49 points were the most scored by an Irmo team since 2009.
“I am not real surprised with it,” Irmo coach Reggie Kennedy said. “Watched the kids have more commitment in the offseason and doing the little things away from the field.”
Kennedy brought in five new assistant coaches in the offseason, as two of his coaches left for head coaching jobs. Joe Blackwell came from Camden to be Irmo’s offensive coordinator. Blackwell also has coached at S.C. State and has added a more run-pass option into the Yellow Jackets’ offensive attack.
Kennedy is reunited with defensive coordinator Ronnie Baker, who was on his staff at Sumter when it played for a state title in 2013. Baker was at Chester the past two years. Irmo switched to a 4-2-5 defense, and Division I prospect Trajan Jeffcoat has flourished.
Robert O’Connell, who was head coach at Richard Winn last year, is Irmo’s quarterbacks coach and has meshed with Sumter transfer John Regin. The junior, who was Kennedy’s ball boy at Sumter, threw three TD passes Friday.
“It’s been a good marriage with the new coaches coming in,” Kennedy said. “We aren’t as predictable on offense with more run-pass option, and our new defensive scheme fits the kids we’ve got here.
“We know we have a long way to go, but I am pleased with how things have gone so far.”
Rolling the dice
Faced with the possibility of going to overtime or going for the win against South Aiken, White Knoll coach Dean Howell decided to gamble.
Howell went for 2-point conversion with 1:54 left after the Timberwolves scored on a 91-yard drive to cut the Thoroughbreds’ lead to 34-33. The gamble worked as quarterback Caleb Sheldon hit Douglas Summers on the conversion to give White Knoll its first 2-0 start since 2013.
“I told my guys in the fourth quarter if it came down to it at the end, we were going to go for two,” Howell said in an interview on 107.5 FM after the game. “We practice those kind of plays every Wednesday.”
Chapin coach Justin Gentry knows he might have to settle on one quarterback at some point this season. For now, the two-quarterback system is working for the Eagles.
A week after Roger Perdoni came off the bench to spark the Chapin offense, it was LaRob Gordon’s turn Friday night against Mid-Carolina. Gordon threw for 145 yards and two TDs, one to brother Xzavion, and also rushed for 24 yards.
Gentry is no stranger to playing two quarterbacks. Both Trad Beatty and Cooper Bemis shared time last year as the Eagles advanced to the Class 4A Lower State championship.
No Madden curse
Ridge View coach Perry Parks didn’t hand out a game ball following his team’s 17-9 win over Blythewood. He handed out something better – a copy of Madden ’18, which was released this week.
Defensive back Cam Perry was recipient of the video game after returning an interception for touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Parks has given out a copy of the game in each of the three years he has been the Blazers’ coach.
Lexington defense – Wildcats held A.C. Flora to 148 yards for first shutout since 2014.
Trajan Jeffcoat, Irmo – Defensive end had four sacks in win over J.L. Mann.
Amir Abrams, Newberry – Running back rushed for 205 yards and two scores against Keenan.
Julian Jackson and Carlos Aponte, Gray Collegiate – Two running backs combined for four touchdowns and each rushed for more than 100 yards with Jackson going for 127 and Aponte 116. It’s the first time in school history Gray had two backs rush for more than 100 yards in one game.
Charles Simons and JaQuain Hills, Richland Northeast – Simons threw for 252 yards and two TDs, both to Hills who finished with 204 yards receiving.
A look at some of the top matchups in the Midlands for Week 2:
Fort Dorchester at Dutch Fork – Most anticipated game in the Midlands this year and matches No. 1 vs. No. 2 ranked teams in Class 5A. Gamecocks fans can get a glimpse of USC commit and Fort D quarterback Dakereon Joyner.
Lexington at Brookland-Cayce – Bearcats won last year’s meeting with a goal-line stand.
Irmo at Chapin – Both teams are 2-0 and feature big-time playmakers on offense and defense.
Richland Northeast at Spring Valley – Sword and Saber Trophy on the line for two teams who play at Harry Parone Stadium. They will try to match a four-overtime thriller from last year.
Laurence Manning at Hammond – Two of top SCISA 3A programs go at it. Skyhawks were impressive in their opener and are coming off a bye.