Lou Bezjak

Weather throws Midlands football teams curveball early in season

Like many local teams, Spring Valley and Richland Northeast played on Saturday because of rainy weather Friday.
Like many local teams, Spring Valley and Richland Northeast played on Saturday because of rainy weather Friday. Special to The State

It’s been anything a normal start to the season for Midlands high school football teams.

In Week 0, many teams’ games were either delayed or postponed because of heavy rain. This week, the remnants of Hurricane Hermine forced teams to alter their schedules with half of them playing a day early on Thursday and the others playing Saturday.

“It is one of those things you are used to having your routine and you don’t know how kids respond out of the routine,” Spring Valley coach Robin Bacon said Saturday after his team’s 49-48 over Richland Northeast in four overtimes.

Bacon’s Vikings have responded with a 3-0 start, which included a win over Fort Mill in Week 0 that didn’t get done until almost midnight because of delays. On Saturday, Spring Valley had to play four overtimes and more than three hours of football before defeating rival Richland Northeast.

Bacon said his team practiced longer on Thursday to get ready for the game because of early dismissal Friday and no practice.

“You prepare for every possible scenario. We really prepped Thursday a lot and that really helped us,” Bacon said.

Bacon was giving him Sunday off before returning to practice Monday morning with no school because of Labor Day. In the meantime, he was ready to catch up on a little rest after an exhausting few weeks.

“I’m just ready to go to bed,” Bacon joked.

Surprising starts

Brookland-Cayce and Gilbert have been two of the surprising teams early in the season and both are off to 3-0 starts.

B-C, the largest Class 3A school in the state, has back-to-back victories over 4A Airport and 5A Lexington in its start. The Bearcats are off until traveling to Chapin on Sept. 16.

Gilbert is unbeaten in Chad Leaphart’s first season after its 21-17 victory over River Bluff on Saturday. The win came at a price as quarterback Tyler Thomas left the game with a broken collarbone and will be out several weeks, according to coach Chad Leaphart.

Freshman Josh Strickland replaced Thomas and was 11-of-17 for 176 yards and two TDs.

Richland 2 thrillers

Games involving Richland 2 schools haven’t disappointed over the past two weeks.

Ridge View rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat Blythewood 23-21 on Aug. 26

On Saturday, Spring Valley survived four overtimes to defeat rival Richland Northeast, 49-48, and keep the Saber and Sword Trophy for the fifth straight year.

Two more Richland 2 schools play each other this week as Westwood travels to Blythewood.

Helping out

The Gilbert student body presented Lewis Simpkins’ family with a check for $2,030 before the start of Saturday’s game against River Bluff.

Simpkins died Aug. 10 after collapsing on the field. Both River Bluff and Gilbert coaching staffs wore #LongLiveLew T-shirts and the Simpkins were honorary captains before the game.

“It is impressive that our students raised $2,000. We just wanted to do something,” Gilbert coach Chad Leaphart said.

A silent auction also was held and raised more than $5,000 the USWE90 foundation for the Simpkins family.

Streak snapper

Edisto’s 13-7 win over Eau Claire on Saturday snapped the state’s longest losing streak.

Edisto had lost 24 straight games before the win over the Shamrocks.

Top performers

Trad Beatty and Xzavion Gordon, Chapin – Beatty threw for 253 yards and three TDs and rushed for 48 and a score in win over Irmo. Gordon had five catches for 135 yards, including the game-winning 9-yard TD, and also rushed for a TD.

Rahmel Burton, Lugoff-Elgin – Rushed for 195 yards and two TDs as the Demons moved to 2-1 for first time since 2009.

Bobby Irby, Dutch Fork – Caught five passes for 170 yards and two TDs as the Silver Foxes knocked off No. 1 Fort Dorchester.

Ali Kelley and Jalen Smith, Ridge View – Duo played big role in Ridge View scoring a school-record 68 points against Ninety Six on Thursday. Kelley rushed for 205 yards and three TDs, while Smith threw for 310 yards, rushed for 71 and accounted for five touchdowns.

Nate Miller, Columbia – Rushed for 219 yards and three TDs in win over C.A. Johnson.

Jaylon Riley, Westwood – Rushed for 201 yards and a TD against South Florence.

Anthony Salters, Dreher – Scored four touchdowns in three different ways (defensive, rushing, passing) in 38-14 win over Gray Collegiate.

Rasheed Taylor, Brookland-Cayce – Rushed for 118 yards and two scores, and caught four passes for 31 yards in B-C’s upset win over Lexington.

Bryce Thompson, Ben Lippen – Had 202 all-purpose yards and four TDs in 56-0 win over Oakbrook Prep.

Ones to watch

A look at next week’s top matchups in the Midlands:

Airport at Gilbert – At 3-0, Indians are one of the surprise teams so far and Eagles looked good in win over Lower Richland.

Dutch Fork at Summerville – Second straight trip to Low Country for Silver Foxes, who are coming win over No. 1 Fort Dorchester

Fairfield Central vs. Ridge View – First football game at Spirit Communications Park, home of the Columbia Fireflies. Blazers look to continue 3-0 start.

Hammond at Ben Lippen – Possibly the game of the year in SCISA 3A. Ben Lippen is much improved and 3-0 on the season. The Skyhawks carry a 27-game winning streak into the matchup.

Newberry at Chapin – Eagles have come-from-behind to win last two games. Newberry coming off first loss of season.

Spring Valley at Sumter – Vikings are 3-0 and have won by a combined total of 12 points. Gamecocks have won two straight after opening loss to Ridge View.

Westwood at Blythewood – Rivalry game for two schools, who both are 2-1 on the season.

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