Lou Bezjak

Region 5-5A football showing its strength early in the season

Irmo coach Coach Reggie Kennedy and the Yellow Jackets are one of four unbeaten teams in Region 5-5A.
Irmo coach Coach Reggie Kennedy and the Yellow Jackets are one of four unbeaten teams in Region 5-5A. online@thestate.com

Through the first three weeks of the high school football season, Region 5-5A has flexed its muscles in nonregion action.

The seven-team region is a combined 15-4 with four of them – Spring Valley, Irmo, White Knoll and Lexington – unbeaten. Irmo’s 3-0 start is its best since 2005, while Lexington is 3-0 for first time since 2011.

One team missing from the unbeaten list is Dutch Fork, which was No. 1 in the state but had its 16-game winning streak snapped by Fort Dorchester on Friday.

But the Silver Foxes should bounce back and are one of the favorites to win the region. Throw in Blythewood and River Bluff, under first-year coach Blair Hardin, and you have the makings of one of the top regions in Class 5A.

“There used to be a time where Columbia football was an afterthought, and it didn’t get as much credit as teams in the Upstate. I don’t think that is the case anymore,” Spring Valley coach Robin Bacon said. “This region was pretty good last year with five of six teams winning a first-round playoff game. Each school has good head coaches and assistants throughout the region, so I’m not surprised by how many teams are having success so far.”

Bacon said the early season success is a good indicator of what to expect when region play rolls around in two weeks.

“It is going to be a dog fight, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the region winner doesn’t go undefeated,” the third-year coach said. “Usually, there would be one or two easy games in the region you could count for wins, but you can’t do that this season.”

Muschamp pays visit to see Tindall

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp and linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler took time Friday before the Gamecocks’ opener against North Carolina State to do a little recruiting.

The two coaches were at Harry Parone Stadium for about a half to see Spring Valley linebacker Channing Tindall play against Richland Northeast. Tindall finished with 10 tackles in the 45-7 victory.

The Gamecocks are in the mix for Tindall, one of the state’s top prospects who is expected to make his college decision later this month. He also is considering Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Florida State.

Cardiac Cards

Both of Cardinal Newman’s victories this season have come in dramatic fashion.

The Cardinals scored with 1:05 left to tie the game and won in overtime against Florence Christian on Aug. 17. On Friday, T.J. Wise hit Patrick Reedy on a 5-yard pass with 14 seconds remaining for the 21-20 win against Trinity-Byrnes.

A week of firsts

A few first-time occurrences from this week’s action:

Gray Collegiate’s win against Dreher was the first time it defeated a Class 4A program.

Lower Richland coach Rodney Barr and Northside Christian’s Stacy Bell each picked up the first wins at their school. LR’s victory snapped a 19-game losing streak and was the first home game played on its new field turf.

This week’s stars

Gilbert offense: Rolled up 595 yards and averaged eight yards a play against River Bluff

Hunter Helms, Gray Collegiate: Threw for more than 300 yards and had game-winning TD pass to Chylon Thomas with 44 seconds left against Dreher

Tyler Dixon: In his first varsity action, the freshman running back ran for 175 yards in Lugoff-Elgin’s win against Midland Valley.

Amir Abrams, Newberry: Scored five times and now has two touchdowns or more in 12 consecutive games

Nate Miller, Columbia: Had 233 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in win against C.A. Johnson

Looking ahead

A look at some of the top matchups in the Midlands next week:

Ben Lippen at Hammond: The top two teams in SCISA 3A meet for an early-season test.

Chapin at Newberry: Bulldogs have won five of past six against Eagles and have dominated the series historically.

Lexington at North Augusta: Lexington is looking for 4-0 start and has won the past two against North Augusta.

Summerville at Dutch Fork: Silver Foxes look to bounce back after their loss to Fort Dorchester.

Sumter at Spring Valley: Matchup of 3-0 teams ranked in the top 10 of the Class 5A poll

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