High School Sports

Preview: Midland Valley at Airport

Site: Bob Mooneyham Sports Complex. Time: 7:30 p.m.

Storyline: The first game of the Region 5-3A campaign could well turn out to be the deciding factor in this season’s championship race. Defending champion Midland Valley beat Airport in the region opener last season, and cruised to the title with the Eagles finishing second.

Midland Valley notes: The Mustangs are off to a bit of a surprising 4-1 start, winning four in a row after falling to North Augusta in the season opener. Along the way, the ostensibly rebuilding team scored impressive wins over Mid-Carolina (21-14), Silver Bluff (7-6) and, last week, Batesburg-Leesville (14-8) … MV sports a balanced offensive attack. Quarterback Marquett Carr has 352 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the books and is 39-for-79 passing for 353 yards and two scores. Jeremy Robinson has 305 yards and two TDs by land and leads the team in receiving with nine catches for 47 yards.

Airport notes: The Eagles closed the non-region phase of the schedule last week with a 31-9 win over Battery Creek and a 5-0 record. It’s the first 5-0 season start for Airport since 1998 … Ironically Battery Creek had a 9-0 before three minutes had elapsed in the game and before it ran its first offensive play. The Eagles, whose running game was shut down for the most part in the first half, turned to the passing of WT Murden to get going. Murden finished with 184 yards and 61 yards rushing, 37 of which came on his one scoring run of the night. Receiver Deonne Hopkins had a big night with five catches for 114 yards and two TDs … For the season, Murden is 58-for-94 passing for 756 yards and 10 touchdowns with just one interception, and leads the team in rushing with 606 yards and eight TDs on 76 carries. Ryan Smith has 515 yards and five scores on 80 totes and has eight receptions for 76 yards and two TDs. The balanced receiving corps features Derek Cushman (13-192-3), Josh Salley (10-160), Sam McCllelan (10-104-1) and Hopkins (11-178-3) … Linemen Chris Phillips (54 tackles, 2 sacks) and Jacob Branham (40 tackles, 3 sacks) and linebackers Charlie Crane (54 tackles, 2 sacks) and Shawn Felder (46 tackles, 1 interception) have been solid on defense.

Series history: Midland Valley has won two of the last three outings vs. the Eagles, but Airport still has a commanding 16-6 edge in the series.