Here are five observations or things that stood out in the eighth week of high school football in the Midlands:
Flora’s Mr. Special Teams
Teams might want to avoid kicking to A.C. Flora’s Quincy Riley but that didn’t happen Friday night.
Riley returned his fifth kick for a touchdown in the 42-7 win over Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The senior also picked off two passes as Flora won its fifth consecutive game.
Gray Collegiate closing in on first region title
Gray Collegiate is getting close to its first region title in football.
The War Eagles defeated Calhoun County, 43-22, to improve to 2-0 in Region 3-2A play. Gray Collegiate can clinch at least a tie for the region title Thursday against Eau Claire.
First wins for Swansea, Northside Christian
Swansea and Northside Christian became the final Midlands teams to get their first victories Friday night.
Swansea defeated Pelion, 22-14, and gave Eric Pack his first win as interim head coach. Northside Christian defeated Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach, 50-18. It was the Crusaders’ first victory as an 11-man program.
Lower Richland, Airport rally to keep region title hopes alive
Lower Richland and Airport pulled out late victories Friday to keep their region title hopes alive.
The Diamond Hornets scored with two seconds left to defeat Lakewood, 22-14. Lower Richland is 3-0 in Region 4-4A play and can win the region championship by beating AC Flora this week. The Falcons also are 3-0 in region play and have won five in a row.
Airport came back from 13 points down and Hayden Riner’s field goal with 2.7 seconds left gave the Eagles a 37-34 win over Aiken.
With the win, Airport is in a four-way tie for first in Region 5-4A standings with North Augusta, South Aiken and Brookland-Cayce. The Eagles close region play with SA and B-C the next two weeks.
Airport will need to win both games and hope for a North Augusta loss to clinch outright the region title.
Three weeks ago, Westwood was ranked in the top 10 in the Class 4A SC Prep Media poll.
But after three consecutive losses, the Redhawks are in danger of missing the playoffs. Ridge View defeated Westwood, 28-7, on Friday to drop the Redhawks to 0-3 in Region 3-4A play. Westwood has scored just 14 points combined in its last two games.
Westwood has games against Lancaster and Richland Northeast left and needs to win them both to make the postseason.
Kazarius Adams, RB Gray Collegiate – Freshman rushed for career-high 276 yards and six touchdowns in win over Calhoun County.
Brandon Caughman, QB, Airport – Passed for 314 yards and a TD and ran for three touchdowns in win over Aiken.
Kendrell Flowers, RB, Irmo – Wake Forest commit ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns in win over Lugoff-Elgin.
Walyn Napper, WR, Ridge View – Threw for a TD, ran for one and caught a TD pass to along with 175 all-purpose yards in win over Westwood.
Ty Olenchuk, QB, Dutch Fork – Was 20-of-28 passing for 348 yards and three touchdowns in win over Lexington. Receivers Gage Zirke (8 catches, 176 yards, TD) and Jalin Hyatt (9 catches, 125 yards, 2 TDs) also had big games.
Braden Walker, RB, River Bluff – Rushed for 346 yards and four touchdowns in win over Chapin. It was his second 300-yard rushing this year and he now has 1,153 yards this season.
How Midlands Top 10 Fared
1. Dutch Fork (7-0) – Defeated No. 7 Lexington, 51-7
2. Hammond (8-0) – Defeated Laurence Manning, 41-23
3. Camden (6-2) – Lost to Chester, 21-19 (OT)
4. Blythewood (5-2) – Lost to Sumter, 29-17
5. River Bluff (6-1) – Defeated No. 10 Chapin, 28-17
6. Westwood (4-3) – Lost to Ridge View, 28-7
7. Lexington (4-3) – Lost to No. 1 Dutch Fork, 51-7
8. Gilbert (4-3) – Lost to Strom Thurmond, 18-13
9. A.C. Flora (5-2) – Defeated Orangeburg-Wilkinson, 42-7
10. (tie) Spring Valley (5-2) – Defeated White Knoll, 31-9
10. (tie) Chapin (4-3) – Lost to No. 5 River Bluff, 28-17
This Week’s Schedule
Eau Claire vs. Gray Collegiate (At Keenan HS)
Abbeville at Saluda
Batesburg-Leesville at Fox Creek
Ben Lippen at Porter-Gaud
Brookland-Cayce at Aiken
Calhoun County at Columbia (At Keenan)
Cardinal Newman at Hammond
Chester at Fairfield Central
Edisto at Gilbert
Indian Land at Camden
Lakewood at Dreher (Memorial Stadium)
Lexington at Chapin
AC Flora at Lower Richland
Lugoff-Elgin at Blythewood
Mid-Carolina at Woodruff
North Central at Lewisville
Northside Christian at Colleton Prep
Richard Winn at WW King
Ridge View at South Pointe
River Bluff at White Knoll
South Aiken at Airport
Spring Valley at Sumter
Union County at Newberry
Westwood at Lancaster
York at Richland Northeast