Lou Bezjak

Sizing up Midlands’ four unbeaten teams

Spring Valley is one of four unbeaten high school football teams left in the Midlands.
Spring Valley is one of four unbeaten high school football teams left in the Midlands. jblake@thestate.com

With seven weeks of the high school football season in the books, four Midlands teams are undefeated.

Let’s see what hurdles are left for the teams and which has the best chance to finish the regular season unbeaten.

Gilbert (6-0)

The Indians are 6-0 for the second consecutive year, and the next two weeks will determine whether they will remain unbeaten.

Gilbert hosts Brookland-Cayce and Strom Thurmond back-to-back in Region 5-3A play. Both B-C and Strom Thurmond are ranked in the Class 3A poll.The Indians split with the teams last season.

Hammond (6-0)

The Skyhawks are no strangers to an unbeaten regular season, and their biggest threat will be next week against Porter-Gaud.

The Cyclones are the SCISA 3A runner-up but are coming off a 38-14 loss Friday to First Baptist. Hammond has scored 50 or more points in each of its past three games.

Newberry (6-0)

The Bulldogs might have the toughest road of the four teams.

Newberry, ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, hosts No. 9 Broome on Friday and travels to defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Chapman on Oct. 20.

Spring Valley (6-0)

The Vikings have four remaining games, beginning Friday against Irmo. If Spring Valley wins, all eyes will be on the matchup with Dutch Fork on Oct. 20. The Silver Foxes are ranked just ahead of them in the Class 5A poll, and the game will likely determine the Region 5-5A title and be the biggest challenge to an unbeaten season.

Two QBs shining for Gilbert

Gilbert coach Chad Leaphart has a pair of talented sophomore quarterbacks in Josh Strickland and Jy Tolen, and both have contributed the Indians’ 6-0 start.

Strickland earned the job last season when he took over for an injured Tyler Thomas, but it could have been Tolen in that position. Because of the eight-quarter rule, Strickland and Tolen took turns dressing Friday for varsity. It was Strickland’s turn to dress against River Bluff when Thomas was injured.

Strickland didn’t give up the job as he finished with 1,576 yards passing. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season Friday and has completed 70.1 percent of his passes.

Leaphart has implemented Tolen into the offense, and the sophomore gets three or four predetermined series each week. Tolen has delivered on the field. He is 35-of-52 passing for 481 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 153 yards and a score.

Abrams nearing another milestone

Newberry running back Amir Abrams is getting close to another milestone.

The senior, who rushed for 221 yards Friday against Woodruff, is 65 yards short of 5,000 yards for his career.

This week’s stars

Manny Bright, Gilbert – Caught nine passes for 147 yards against Swansea. In the past two games, Bright has 22 catches for 438 yards.

Bryce Thompson, Dutch Fork – Senior rushed for 127 yards and four touchdowns, caught two passes for 74 yards and a score in second straight start at running back. Thompson has nine touchdowns in last five quarters.

Kendrell Flowers, Irmo – Caught five passes for 160 yards with a TD and also rushed for 100 yards

Corbett Glick, Hammond – Was 15-of-20 for 244 yards and three scores against Augusta Christian

Kyle Wright and Trey Norman, Ben Lippen – Wright went over 1,000-yard mark by rushing for 176 yards and two scores. Norman caught season-high seven passes for 159 yards and two TDs.

Looking ahead

Here are some of top games this week:

Barnwell at Batesburg-Leesville – B-L knocked the Warhorses out of the playoffs last season.

Brookland-Cayce at Gilbert – Reed Charpia should be back at QB for B-C, which looks to hand Indians first loss for second consecutive year.

Broome at Newberry – Matchup of top 10 teams in Class 3A

Lexington at Dutch Fork – Wildcats have won two straight but face stiff test in Dutch Fork.

Ridge View at York – Blazers look to bounce back after blowout loss to South Pointe.

South Pointe at Westwood – Defending state champion and nationally ranked Stallions won’t have quarterback Derion Kendrick when they head to Midlands for second consecutive week.

Spring Valley at Irmo – Vikings coming off a bye against Yellow Jackets, who snapped two-game losing streak.