Barry Byers: Make football predictions with heart, not head

bbyers@heraldonline.comAugust 21, 2012 

OK, I’m gonna admit defeat after just one week of high school football.

It’s easy to say no more predicting, but after seeing what the Northwestern Trojans did to the Gaffney Indians, I need to go more with my heart instead of breaking down a game in my head.

During my podcast last week, I boldly predicted that Gaffney is by far the best team in the state this season; I said if Northwestern could avoid the rush and quarterback Mason Rudolph could get the ball away quickly to his speedy receivers, the Trojans would have a chance.

I also said that was a tall order because Gaffney would bring the house on defense and not allow Northwestern’s offense to execute.

Northwestern kicked butt in a 49-19 win and Rudolph rained passes on the Indians. Rudolph looked like Aaron Rodgers playing against a junior-high team. Rudolph completed 25 of 38 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns, and ran one in.

Upcoming opponents beware. The Trojans won every aspect of the game. The had two long kick returns, showed a speedy, ballhawking secondary, controlled both lines and used LaThomas Long the way they used former standout Jarrett Neely as a tough runner coming out of the backfield as a receiver.

What a win by the Trojans, one that has to go down as on of the greatest victories in school history. In my 33 years of doing covering high school sports, I’ve never known Northwestern to be such a decided underdog going into a game. They won’t have to worry about that again this season.

Region 3-AAAA, in this writer’s opinion, is the best in the state. It includes Clover, Fort Mill, Lancaster, Nation Ford, Northwestern, Rock Hill, South Pointe and York.

Aside from Northwestern, three other region teams opened seasons on Friday and their record at the end of the night was 4-1.

South Pointe controlled Irmo in a 17-10 victory, but made way too many mistakes. The score could have been a lot worse, but as Stallions coach Strait Herron said: “It’s a win.”

Nation Ford got off to as great start, beating Forestview (N.C.) 38-0. Making his first start, quarterback Dalton Helms passed for 255 yards and 3 touchdowns, and ran for another.

As predicted, Nation Ford could be the surprise team in the region this season.

York also played and scored all of its points in the first quarter of a 14-6 win over Chester. I heard somewhere last week, oh yes it was my podcast, that if the Cougars put up a couple of touchdowns, the defense is good enough to carry home the victory.

It’ll take more than that, but the Cougars’ defense is as good as the one Rock Hill and Northwestern put on the field earlier this century.

And then there was Clover, which took an early uppercut and never checked out of the woozy mode. The Blue Eagles are young and numbers are way down. Their coach, John Devin, promises that his players will compete and play hard. But starting 0-1 after a 35-0 loss to South Aiken is gonna require a lot of healing.

And to the folks who asked why we didn’t cover Rock Hill and insisted it was because we don’t like them, this Bearcat from the class of 1970 wants you to know that they did not play a real game.

They played in the Lexington scrimmage and won 14-7 and how that score showed up on our list is a mystery.

So all of you upset Bearcats fans, be at District Three Stadium on Friday night when Rock Hill opens the season at 7:30 p.m. against Dorman.

The other season openers for Region 3 teams are Lugoff-Elgin at Fort Mill and Andrew Jackson at Lancaster.

Also on Friday, South Pointe goes to Blythewood, Boiling Springs hosts Nation Ford, Clover goes to Forestview and York is idle.

Northwestern plays at Conway as part of a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Myrtle Beach plays Irmo at 8 p.m.

•  Lions power: Can’t get away without congratulating Will Mitchell and his Lewisville Lions on their 38-12 win over rival Great Falls.

The game was Mitchell’s first as a head coach and he had his Lions ready. Mitchell submitted the following game stats:

Qua Walls was 11-of-22 passing for 199 yards and 3 TDs, he had 11 carries for 65 yards and a TD; Mac Means had 12 carries for 112 yards and a TD, had one catch for a 30-yard TD; Cody Montgomery caught four passes for 86 yards and a TD; Allen Jordan had 3 catches for 30 yards; Christian Cok had one catch for 28 yards and a TD; Tony Gaston had two catches for 26 yards.

The Lions had 347 yards of offense and allowed only 129.

•  State poll: The S.C. Prep Media Poll is conducted by The (Columbia) State with voting from Ben Breiner, Greenwood Index-Journal; Barry Byers, Rock Hill Herald; Bob Castello, The Greenville News; Chris Dearing, The (Columbia) State; Ian Guerin, (Myrtle Beach) Sun News; Kevin Melton, Spartanburg Herald-Journal; Akilah Nelson, The (Columbia) State and Adam Regan, Anderson Independent-Mail.

Class AAAA

1. Goose Creek; 2. Northwestern; 3. Byrnes; 4. South Pointe; 5. Greenwood; 6. Dutch Fork; 7. Gaffney; 8. Blythewood; 9. Dorman; 10. Ashley Ridge

Class AAA

1. Hartsville; 2. Belton Honea Path; 3. Myrtle Beach; 4. Daniel; 5. Woodruff; 6. Airport; 7. Strom Thurmond; 8. AC Flora; 9. Marlboro County; 10. Swansea

Class AA

1. Dillon; 2. Abbeville; 3. Timberland; 4. Fairfield Central; 5. Newberry; 6. Bamberg- Ehrhardt; 7. Central; 8. Bishop England; 9. Cheraw; 10. Saluda

Class A

1. Williston-Elko; 2. Lamar; 3. Christ Church; 4. Hemingway; 5. Johnsonville; 6. Lake View; 7. Allendale Fairfax; 8. Blackville Hilda; 9. Cross; 10. Lewisville

Barry Byers bbyers@heraldonline.com

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