Lou Bezjak

Marquee matchups highlight Week 9 schedule in Midlands

Dutch Fork's Blake Branham comes up with a game-sealing interception against Spring Valley last year. The two teams meet Friday with Region 5-5A title on line.
Dutch Fork's Blake Branham comes up with a game-sealing interception against Spring Valley last year. The two teams meet Friday with Region 5-5A title on line. jblake@thestate.com

If you are high school football fan, this week’s slate of games is one of the best of the season.

Several region titles will be decided this week, with three marquee matchups highlighting the next-to-last week of regular season. Here is a look at three of the top games:

Newberry at Chapman (Thursday)

This is a matchup between No. 1 Chapman and No. 3 Newberry with the winner claiming the Region 3-3A championship.

The teams split their two meetings last year with Chapman winning 34-27 in the playoffs on its way to the Class 3A championship.

The game features two Mr. Football finalists in Chapman quarterback Colton Bailey and Newberry running back Amir Abrams, who has 5,363 career rushing yards and 88 TDs.

Abrams won’t be the only 5,000-yard back on the field as Chapman’s DJ Twitty went over the 5,000-yard plateau Friday against Mid-Carolina.

Spring Valley at Dutch Fork

The top two teams in the Midlands meet with the Region 5-5A championship and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs based on the way the brackets are set up this year.

Spring Valley is one of four unbeaten teams left in the area and has scored 40 points or more in seven of its eight games. The Vikings are averaging close to 450 yards of offense per game, most of it coming on the ground.

Dutch Fork has been on a roll since the loss to Fort Dorchester and Bryce Thompson has taken over at running back. The Shrine Bowl selection has 13 total TDs and rushed for more than 180 yards in each of the past two games.

It will be interesting to see who plays at quarterback for Dutch Fork. Sophomore Ty Olenchuk had a strong game in relief of Graeson Underwood on Friday against White Knoll.

The Silver Foxes won eight straight in the series and scored 30 points or more in five of those games.

Fairfield Central at Chester

The game should decide Region 4-3A championship and features two teams ranked in the top 10 in Class 3A.

If Chester wins, it wins the region title. Fairfield Central will need to beat Chester and beat Indian Land next week. The Griffins would win the region with a victory against Chester and if Indian Land loses to Camden next week.

FC has won three straight after a 2-3 start, while Chester is on an eight-game winning streak after opening loss to Westwood.

SCHSL to look into Eau Claire-CA Johnson brawl

Richland One athletic director Bob Matz said they are still sorting out the details from Friday’s brawl during the Eau Claire-C.A. Johnson game at Bolden Stadium.

The fight happened in the second quarter with C.A. Johnson having the ball. It’s still uncertain what caused the teams to go at it. According to coaches, there was a lot of trash talk. In the play before the fight broke out, there was a fumble recovery by C.A. Johnson and several rough blocks.

In the video recorded by ABC Columbia (WOLO-TV), one player from C.A. Johnson had his helmet ripped off and several players appeared to throw punches. Coaches also got in the mix trying to pull their players away.

After the melee, officials decided to end the game with Eau Claire winning, 37-0.

EC coaches said the video of the fight was turned over to Matz, and he will turn it in to the South Carolina High School League.

SCHSL assistant commissioner Charlie Wentzky hadn’t seen the tape as of Saturday morning but will review it before handing out any punishments involved. He said a decision is likely Tuesday or Wednesday.

The EC and C.A. Johnson fight wasn’t the only one across the state Friday as a brawl ensued during the postgame handshake between South Aiken and North Augusta.

Region 5-4A jammed at top

Lower Richland’s victory over Chapin has made the Region 5-4A race interesting.

Chapin and Dreher are tied for first place with 2-1 region records with Lower Richland and Orangeburg-Wilkinson both at 1-1. Chapin plays O-W next week while LR, which has split with Chapin and Dreher, faces O-W on Oct. 27.

Dreher’s lone region game left is against A.C. Flora on Oct. 27.

If the region finishes in a three-way tie, total points given up during head-to-head meetings will determine the champion. Second place would go to the head-to-head winner of the two teams left.

This week’s stars

Tevaughn Higgins, Lower Richland – The quarterback ran for 213 yards, three touchdowns and was 8-of-14 passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns in win against Chapin.

Bryce Thompson, Dutch Fork – Had third straight 100-yard rushing game and finished with 188 yards and three touchdowns.

Corbett Glick, Hammond – Was 22-of-27 for 280 yards passing and three TDs.

Amir Abrams, Newberry – Had 187 yards and four touchdowns in win against Clinton.

Looking ahead Part 2

Here are some of the other top games this week:

Westwood at Ridge View (at Spirit Communications Park) – Second consecutive year the Blazers play at the home of the Columbia Fireflies. Winner has inside track to third-place finish in region.

Swansea at Brookland-Cayce – If Swansea wins, Tigers finish second in Region 5-3A. B-C needs a win against Swansea and ST next week to finish second.

Chapin at Orangeburg-Wilkinson – Loser is likely out of the Region 5-4A title race.