Chester (6-1, 1-1) vs. Chapin (7-0, 2-0)
Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Cecil Woolbright Stadium, Chapin
Julius Pendergrass, Chester. The Cyclones' star running back has 567 yards, second on the team behind Brent Minter (598), but Pendergrass knows the way to the end zone best. He has a team-high 10 touchdowns.
Michael Weimer, Chapin. The pressure will be on Weimer this week because injuries and illness will diminish the Eagles' firepower. He is having a good season, having completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,380 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Chester junior Tony McNeal, one of the Southeast's top underclassmen, suffered a torn ACL in the Cyclones' 28-24 loss to Fairfield Central two weeks ago. Tevin Worthy filled in last week, leading the team to a 24-21 victory against Lugoff-Elgin. McNeal will have surgery once the season ends and is being fitted for a knee brace that likely will allow him to play tonight. He won't be very mobile, but he's more of a pocket passer.
Chapin enters their biggest game of the season at less than 100 percent. Junior Jalen Pauling is out with the flu while senior wide receiver Victor Frick has a foot injury. Chapin coach Scott Earley said Pauling's absence will especially hurt because he plays offense, defense and contributes on special teams in the return game.
Earley's first team in Chapin has put together a special season by playing its best when it counts the most. Chapin will run into a Chester team with a similar mentality. The Cyclones have played in the past two Class 3A championship games. They lost both but playing on the road against an unbeaten team won't faze them.
"At the end of the game (in last week's 24-21 victory against Lugoff-Elgin) the players showed championship mettle. They didn't bat an eye. I like the way our team is mentally. We'd like to continue that."
- Chester coach Maurice Flowers
"We've been able to overachieve all season. The difference this week is we're playing the wrong team at the wrong time."- Chapin coach Scott EarleyTHE PICK
Chester's large offensive line, featuring a pair of future Division I college players, gives the Cyclones the edge on offense. Chapin has shown the ability to win low-scoring games and shootouts this season. Chester, though, appears just as mentally tough but with more talent.
Chester 17, Chapin 13