High School Football

Dutch Fork-Lexington, Blythewood-Sumter, plus Week 8’s other top games, predictions

Here are the top games to watch and predictions for Week 8 of high school football in the Midlands:

Can’t Miss Games

Chester (7-1) at Camden (6-1): Matchup of two teams ranked in Class 3A polls. Chester is defending Class 3A champion and its lone loss came against Rock Hill. Camden lost to Fairfield Central 21-20 last week and would drop to third place in region with loss. Chester QB Zan Dunham missed last week’s game against Keenan but should be back for Friday’s game. Dunham and Stan Mills have combined for 21 rushing TDs this season. Camden’s Willis Lane leads Midlands with 1,144 yards rushing. As a team, Camden is averaging 293 yards per game on the ground.

Laurence Manning (7-0) at Hammond (6-2): Teams ranked No. 1 vs. No. 2 in SCISA 3A poll. Hammond is averaging 40.8 yards per game. Five-star prospect Jordan Burch leads Hammond in rushing TDs (8), sacks (8) tackles for loss (15). Hammond’s Andre Wilson has three punt returns for touchdowns this season. Hammond has scored 47 points or more in five straight games.

Lexington (6-1) at Dutch Fork (7-0): Dutch Fork clinches Region 5-5A title with victory. The Silver Foxes enter game with 33-game unbeaten streak and lead all-time series with Lexington 9-8. Dutch Fork receiver Jalin Hyatt needs 263 receiving yards to become the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (Jordan Berry holds all-time mark at 3,291 yards). Dutch Fork has outscored opponents 323-63 this year. Novean Mitchell leads Lexington defense in quarterback hurries (15) and tackles for loss (12). Lexington is averaging 252.2 yards a game rushing per game.

Ridge View (4-3) at Westwood (5-2): Ridge View leads all-time series 5-3 and swept Westwood last year, including 41-38 win in the playoffs. Ridge View has won three straight after 1-3 start. RV’s Cincere Scott has 861 all-purpose yards and has thrown for a TD, ran for two scores and caught four TDs. Westwood QB Ahmon Green has accounted for 16 of the team’s 23 offensive touchdowns and needs 58 yards for 1,000 passing on the season. Westwood’s CJ Johnson had 17 tackles last week against York and leads team with 85.

Strom Thurmond (7-1) at Gilbert (6-1): First-place in Region 5-3A on line in matchup between teams ranked in top 10 of Class 3A. Strom Thurmond leads all-time series 7-2. Gilbert QB Jy Tolen has thrown for 2,483 yards and 26 TDs this year. The Indians are averaging 546 yards of offense per game. Brandon Williams leads Strom Thurmond with seven sacks and Jay Williams is the Rebels’ top pass catcher with 44 receptions for 737 yards and six TDs.

Sumter (6-0) at Blythewood (5-2): Matchup of top two teams in Region 4-5A. All-time series is tied 2-2. Blythewood QB Josh Strickland is 36-of-43 for 540 yards and eight touchdowns over his last two games. Sumter is ranked No. 5 in 5A and has won 17 straight regular-season games. Sumter features South Carolina commit O’Donnell Fortune and one of the best defenses in the state. The Gamecocks are giving up 8.3 points, 73.3 yards a game and just 1.9 yards per play.

Week 8 Midlands game schedule, predictions

Predictions from The State’s Lou Bezjak and Chris Dearing. (All games at 7:30 p.m.)

AC Flora at Orangeburg-Wilkinson (Lou-AC Flora; Chris-AC Flora)

Airport at Aiken (Lou-Airport; Chris-Airport)

Batesburg-Leesville at Ninety-Six (Lou-Batesburg-Leesville; Chris-Batesburg-Leesville)

Brookland-Cayce at Midland Valley (Lou-Brookland-Cayce; Chris-Brookland-Cayce)

Calhoun County at Gray Collegiate at Midlands Sports Complex (Lou-Gray Collegiate; Chris-Gray Collegiate)

Cardinal Newman at Wilson Hall (Lou-Cardinal Newman; Chris-Cardinal Newman)

Chester at Camden (Lou-Camden; Chris-Chester)

Columbia at Hemingway (Lou-Hemingway; Chris-Columbia)

Crestwood at Dreher at Memorial Stadium (Lou-Crestwood; Chris-Crestwood)

Dutch Fork at Lexington (Lou-Dutch Fork; Chris-Dutch Fork)

Eau Claire at CA Johnson at Bolden Stadium (Lou-CAJ; Chris-CAJ)

First Baptist at Heathwood Hall (Lou-Heathwood; Chris-First Baptist)

Fox Creek at Saluda (Lou-Saluda; Chris-Saluda)

Indian Land at Keenan (Lou-Indian Land; Chris-Indian Land)

Irmo at Lugoff-Elgin (Lou-Irmo; Chris-Irmo)

Lakewood at Lower Richland (Lou-Lower Richland; Chris-Lower Richland)

Laurence Manning at Hammond (Lou-Hammond; Chris-Hammond)

Newberry at Clinton (Lou-Newberry; Chris-Newberry)

Newberry Academy at W.W. King (Lou-Newberry Academy; Chris-Newberry Academy)

North Central at Lee Central (Lou-Lee Central; Chris-Lee Central)

Pelion at Swansea (Lou-Swansea; Chris-Swansea)

Richard Winn at Calhoun Academy (Lou-Richard Winn; Chris-Richard Winn)

Ridge View at Westwood (Lou-Westwood; Chris-Ridge View)

River Bluff at Chapin (Lou-River Bluff; Chris-River Bluff)

South Pointe at Richland Northeast at Harry Parone Stadium (Lou-South Pointe; Chris-South Pointe)

Spring Valley at White Knoll (Lou-Spring Valley; Chris-White Knoll)

Strom Thurmond at Gilbert (Lou-Gilbert; Chris-Gilbert)

Sumter at Blythewood (Lou-Sumter; Chris-Sumter)

Union County at Mid-Carolina (Lou-Union County; Chris-Union County)

Season Totals for predictions

Lou Bezjak: 161-45-1

Chris Dearing: 167-39-1

SC Prep Media Polls


Class 5A: 1. Dutch Fork (13); 2. Byrnes; 3. (tie) Dorman, Fort Dorchester; 5. Sumter; 6. Clover; 7. Carolina Forest; 8. River Bluff; 9. (tie) T.L. Hanna, Gaffney

Also receiving votes: Lexington, Laurens, Rock Hill

Class 4A: 1. Myrtle Beach (13); 2. Daniel ; 3. South Pointe; 4. Wilson ; 5. AC Flora ; 6. Eastside ; 7. North Myrtle Beach; 8. Belton Honea Path; 9. Wren; 10. Greenville

Others receiving votes: Hartsville, Walhalla, Travelers Rest, Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Westwood

Class 3A: 1. Dillon (9); 2. Chapman (4); 3. Chester; 4. May River; 5. Gilbert; 6. Camden; 7. (tie) Aynor; 7. Wade Hampton; 9. Strom Thurmond; 10. Union County

Others receiving votes: Union County, Lake City, Woodruff, Fairfield Central, Newberry, Marion

Class 2A: 1. Abbeville (12); 2. Barnwell (1); 3. Southside Christian; 4. Oceanside Collegiate; 5. Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 6. Timberland; 7. Saluda; 8. Andrew Jackson; 9. Gray Collegiate; 10. Mullins

Others receiving votes- Woodland, St. Joe’s, Whale Branch

Class A: 1. Wagener-Salley (9); 2. Green Sea Floyds (4); 3. Lamar; 4. Lake View; 5. (tie) Blackville-Hilda, Branchville; 7. C.E. Murray; 8. Ridge Spring-Monetta; 9. Great Falls; 10. Denmark-Olar

Others receiving votes- Baptist Hill, Cross, McCormick, Whitmire, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler


Class 3A: 1. Hammond ; 2. Laurence Manning; 3. First Baptist; 4. Heathwood Hall; T-5. Ben Lippen; T-5. Cardinal Newman

Others receiving votes: Porter-Gaud, Augusta Christian

Class 2A: 1. Trinity-Byrnes; 2. Florence Christian; 3. Robert E. Lee; 4. Hilton Head Christian; 5. Orangeburg Prep

Others receiving votes: Greenwood Christian, Northwood Academy

Class A: 1. Thomas Heyward; 2. Carolina Academy; 3. Pee Dee Academy; 4. Bethesda Academy; 5. Colleton Prep

Also receiving votes: None

8-man: 1. Andrew Jackson Academy; 2. Clarendon Hall; 3. Richard Winn Academy; 4. St. John’s Christian; 5. Wardlaw Academy

Also receiving votes: None

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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.