Top high school football teams to watch in the Midlands
A look at this week’s top six matchups in the Midlands and picks for each game.
Chapin at River Bluff
Players to Watch: C: OL Hank Manos, WR Xzavion Gordon; RB: LB Noah Johnson, RB, Antonio Gantt
Notes: Second meeting. River Bluff won an emotional 24-17 victory in the first game after lineman Lewis Simpkins’ death. … Game is debut for River Bluff coach Blair Hardin, who coached at North Myrtle Beach last year. … Chapin WR Xzavion Gordon had 62 catches for 1,147 yards and 14 TDs last year.
Dutch Fork at Independence (NC)
Players to Watch: DF: WR/DB Bryce Thompson, RB Ron Hoff; I: LB Tylon Lawson, RB Elijah Beamer
Notes: Dutch Fork won last year, 45-0, on its way to a 15-0 season and Class 5A state championship. The Silver Foxes are ranked No. 1 in SC Prep Football Media Poll for 5A. … Game is a homecoming for Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts and assistant coach Jason Barnes. Knotts led Independence to six state titles, while Barnes was a receiver at Independence before playing at South Carolina. … Game is debut for Independence coach Mike Natoli.
Pick: Dutch Fork
Lugoff-Elgin at Camden
Radio: 102.7 FM
Players to Watch: OL Wyatt Campbell, DE Ahmad Bryant; C: RB Jericho Murphy, CB Ryland Ayers
Notes: Camden has won five straight against its rival, including last year, 49-27. … Camden leads all-time series, 30-7. … Eleventh time that two rivals have opened season against each other. … Game is debut for new Camden coach Brian Rimpf. … Lugoff-Elgin defensive end Ahmad Bryant had 122 tackles last year.
Sumter at Ridge View
TV: WACH Fox 57.2/1250 (Time Warner Cable)
Players to Watch: S: QB Zykiem Jackson, LB Cooper Mota. RV: WR Bernard Porter, DL Damion Daley
Notes: Sumter leads series 4-2, but Ridge View won last season, 22-15. … Ridge View head coach Perry Parks is a Sumter grad and two-year letter winner for the Gamecocks. Parks had 47 catches for 525 yards and six TDs during his senior year at Sumter. … Ridge View linebacker Terry Carson had 117 tackles last season.
University Christian (Fla.) at Ben Lippen
Players to Watch: UC QB Clay Boyd, OL Oake Stripe; BL: QB Trad Beatty, RB/LB Kyle Wright
Notes: First meeting. … University Christian has won two straight Florida Class 2A championships and nine in its school history. … Ben Lippen won its first SCISA 3A title last year. … University assistant coach Heath Nivens is a Dutch Fork grad who played at South Carolina under coach Lou Holtz. He also was head coach at Ben Lippen from 2003-07.
Pick: Ben Lippen
Nation Ford at Irmo
Players to Watch: I: DE Trajan Jeffcoat, WR Kendrell Flowers; NF: WR/DB Ben Tuipulotu, DB Malik Barber
Notes: Second meeting. Nation Ford won last season, 28-27. … Irmo coming off three straight losing seasons. The Yellow Jackets were 6-6 in 2013 and 7-6 in 2012. … Nation Ford’s Ben Tuipulotu is a BYU commit.
Pick: Nation Ford
(Picks in bold face caps)
Oakbrook Prep at HEATHWOOD HALL
BATESBURG-LEESVILLE at Ridge Spring-Monetta
BLYTHEWOOD at Rock Hill
BROOKLAND-CAYCE at Lake Marion
CALHOUN COUNTY at Pelion
CARDINAL NEWMAN at Florence Christian
Crestwood at LOWER RICHLAND
FAIRFIELD CENTRAL at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler
GILBERT at Gray Collegiate
HAMMOND at Spartanburg Christian
Keenan at NEWBERRY
LEE CENTRAL at C.A. Johnson (Bolden Stadium)
NORTH CENTRAL at Eau Claire
Saluda at STROM THURMOND
SPRING VALLEY at Fort Mill
SWANSEA at Battery Creek
Westwood at CHESTER
West Florence at LEXINGTON
WHITE KNOLL at Aiken
WOODRUFF at A.C. Flora