It’s been a challenging few weeks for high school teams because of the devastating floods throughout the Midlands.
Some players, coaches and families were displaced because of the floods. On the field, teams went more than a week without practicing and some played two games in a span of five days. Things should start to get back toward a regular routine this week as we enter the final few weeks of the regular season.
Here are some of the highlights through Week 8 of the season:
Good rivalry brewing
Even though they have met just two times, Lexington and River Bluff has all the makings of a budding rivalry in the future.
The two teams played games that went down to the final seconds, with Lexington winning 16-15 in 2014 and then edging the Gators 27-24 on Friday night in front of a crowd of an estimated 8,000 fans.
After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field for a prayer after a hard-fought game.
“It is good for Lexington County and it is good for both school districts,” Lexington coach Josh Stepp said Saturday morning. “Both teams have great kids and coaching staffs. It is going to be a close game every year because both teams are very similar.”
And with the way both teams are playing this season, there might be a chance the teams face each other in the postseason this year. Lexington is 7-1 and tied for first place with Irmo in Region 5-4A, while the Gators are 6-2.
Irmo and Dreher have been two of the biggest surprises in the Midlands in region play.
After starting 1-5, the Yellow Jackets began Region 5-4A play with victories over White Knoll and South Aiken. Irmo has gotten strong play from quarterback Mason Smith, who ran for three scores Friday against South Aiken. Jeffrey Tharpe, Shykeem Bradley and Ronnie Jamison also have been factors on offense for the Jackets.
After a 2-2 start to the year, Dreher has won three straight, including region wins over Lower Richland and Camden. The Blue Devils have a strong QB in Avery Armstrong and a tough combo in the backfield in Jay Washington and Earl Preddy, who had six TDs against Camden
Dreher’s defense also has shined during the streak and picked off four passes Friday against the Bulldogs.
Logjam in Region 2-2A
Region 2-2A is living up to its billing as one of the toughest 2A conferences in the state.
Region frontrunners Batesburg-Leesville and Strom Thurmond each stumbled Friday with losses to Abbeville and Saluda, respectively, creating a four-way tie for first place with two games left.
Batesburg-Leesville hosts Strom Thurmond on Friday before finishing the season at Saluda.
Westwood defensive back Mark Mickens spoke to his teammates and classmates on a 20-second video played during Friday’s pep rally for the game against Ridge View.
Mickens suffered a neck injury during the Sept. 5 game against Clover, and is now in Charlotte doing his rehab.
“I want to say thank you guys for all the prayers, letters and visitors,” Mickens said. “Special shoutout to Westwood football. … I can’t play for you but you can so give 100 percent. I love you guys and go Redhawks.”
Hammond’s Smith picked for all-star game
Hammond quarterback Graham Smith was picked to play in the Offense-Defense All-American game in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Jan. 1.
Smith will be presented with a jersey to commemorate his selection at the school in the coming weeks. The senior threw for 161 yards and a TD on Friday for the Skyhawks, who are 7-0 on the season.
Early Preddy (Dreher) – Ran for 204 yards and five touchdowns and also returned an interception for TD in win over Camden.
Cole Douglas (Dutch Fork) – After struggling against Ridge View on Tuesday, quarterback threw for 273 yards and a TD and also ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns in win over Blythewood.
Brandon Blake and Taylor Schadewald (Lexington) – Blake threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns, two to Schadewald, who caught four passes for 115 yards.
Josh Tucker (Airport) – Threw for 172 yards, rushed for 86 and had three total TDs in win over Gilbert.
Logan Bailey (Chapin) – Had 218 yards of total offense and had a hand in five TDs in win over Lower Richland.
Ones to watch
Some up of the top games in the Midlands for Week 9:
Blythewood at Westwood – Contrast in styles with Blythewood’s high-flying offense and Westwood’s physical running game.
Dreher at Chapin – Winner is in driver seat in Region 4-3A.
Irmo at Lexington – Yellow Jackets look to be peaking late in the season, but face a tough challenge in the Wildcats.
Midland Valley at Airport – Eagles can basically wrap up region title with win over Mustangs, who have 1-2 punch in Dre’Kwon and Daniel Carr.
Strom Thurmond at Batesburg-Leesville – Winner remains in race for Region 2-2A lead. Loser might be looking at a third or fourth-place finish.