High School Sports

Preview: Central at Keenan

Site: Bolden Stadium. Time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

Central notes: The mighty Eagles from Pageland will invade Bolden Stadium for the Region 4-2A opener in a foul mood, Central got off to a typically fast start, winning the first three games of the season, but things have not gone well over the past two weeks. Joey Mangum’s team dropped back-to-back games to county rivals Cheraw and Chesterfield. It was the third time in the past four seasons that the Eagles were swept in the annual Chesterfield County series … Still, don’t pity Central, who remains one of the premiere Class 2A programs in the state. Last season the Eagles went 14-1 and lost a heartbreaking 7-6 contest vs. Dillon in the state championship game … How good has the program been under just two head coaches – Mangum and Al Usher? Central is 326-96 overall, 147-21 in region play and 58-27 in the state playoffs with eight title game appearances and four championships on the books since the new consolidated school opened for business in 1976. Yes, it’s quite a resume … This year’s team is rebuilding after taking a serious graduation hit. Running backs Mardu Smith and Deaja Blakeney are the new go-to men on offense. Veteran Kegan Funderburk, who has eight sacks, is the veteran leader on defense.

Keenan notes: The Raiders improved to 4-1 last week, but needed a late rally to get past underdog Dreher. In fact, Keenan needed two late touchdowns passes from Antonio Perry to Spencer Jasper to pull out a 34-31 win … Perry is now 57-for-100 passing for 1,127 yards and 13 TDs and also has 313 yards and three scores by land. Phillip George leads the team is rushing with 362 yards and five TDs on 53 carries. Jasper and Dennis Rowe have been Keenan’s big-play receivers. Jasper has 24 catches for 416 yards and five TDs, while Rowe has 21 grabs for 502 yards and seven TDs … George is a standout on defense, as well, with 24.5 tackles, two sacks and one interception. James Barnes is the top hit man with 26 tackles. Kendrick Hipps had 16.5 tackles and 4.5 sacks … Once again, the Raiders have a chance to prove themselves against a quality foe.

Series history: The Raiders had no fun in their first-ever trip to Pageland to take on the Eagles last season. Central crushed Keenan 49-7 on the way with winning the region championship.