York (3-1) at Clover (3-1)
Last week: York beat Fort Mill 28-21; Clover was idle
Last meeting: Clover won 25-22 in 2016
Key players: YCHS - LB Seth Wood, WR Shaq Harris, DB Max Necklen. CHS - WR Jaylin Lane, LB Shon Brown, DB Jay Falls.
First-year Clover coach Brian Lane had his first experience with the Cougar Burn Wednesday night, in which the Clover student body burns an effigy Cougar during a pep rally.
“Great crowd, great energy, the kids were very pumped up about it,” said Lane. “Hopefully this migrates on into Friday.”
In its loss to South Point (N.C.) two weeks ago, the Blue Eagles’ first of the season, Clover left points on the field with several drives into the Red Raiders’ red zone coming up dry. After senior center Garrett Lutz left the game on the first play with an injury, the Blue Eagles had multiple bad snaps that led to the empty red zone trips. Lutz’s status for Friday is uncertain, leaving Clover with a big question mark against a stout York pass rush that has 10.5 sacks in the last two games.
“They’ve got some giants over there,” said Lane. “That 91 (Shamari Williams) looks like he’s 6-7, 6-6. He’s huge.”
Bobby Carroll’s week has had a new feel to it as well, as he preps York for a completely different looking Clover program. He said he was “not at all disappointed to not have to prepare for the Wing-T stuff.”
“It’s almost like you see the ugly duckling in high school and 20 years later she’s a runway model,” Carroll added. “It doesn’t even look like you’re looking at the same school. It’s really amazing. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Clover and Coach Lane and he’s come in there and pumped some life into those kids and they’re running some modern day football.”
Shelby (N.C.) (5-0) at South Pointe (5-0)
Last week: Shelby beat Kings Mountain 20-17 in overtime; South Pointe beat Buford (Ga.) 33-27
Last meeting: never played
Key players: SHS - QB Malik Sarratt, RB Xavier Brooks, WR Tucker Green, LB Jaylin Scott, LB Dax Hollifield, LB Will Stites. SPHS - QB Derion Kendrick, WR Scott Robinson, DL Eli Adams, K B. T. Potter.
Need to know: This one should draw a huge crowd to South Pointe, especially on the visitors’ side.
Shelby has won 26 straight games and the last four 2A state titles in North Carolina. The Golden Lions are 5-0 but it’s not been easy. They’ve won three games by a touchdown or less, trailing late in the last two. Seniors Dax Hollifield - and FBS recruit - and Malik Sarratt get a lot of the credit for their unwavering leadership and play-making.
“Our kids have found a way to win this year in close games, they haven't blinked,” said Shelby coach Lance Ware, in an email. “This will pay off through out the season. It has been encouraging to see considering last year’s championship team never trailed in a game all year.”
South Pointe has won 28 out of its last 29 and the Stallions’ confidence is soaring after an impressive road win over Buford (Ga.). Coach Strait Herron said earlier this week that he’s not worried about his team getting too confident, that the Stallions’ respect for Shelby is clear and that their ability to rise to the occasion is also evident.
“I know our players, they thrive off games like this. They love it,” said Herron. “Our guys just seem to play bigger in those type of settings.”
Herron joked that Friday night is probably the night to commit crime in Shelby. Most of the town will likely be in Rock Hill.
“It is a game and date they have had on their calendar since it was announced,” said Ware.
Gaffney (2-2) at Northwestern (2-3)
Last week: Gaffney beat Hillcrest 42-7; Northwestern lost to Spartanburg 40-14
Last meeting: Gaffney won 33-30 in the 2016 playoffs.
Key players: GHS - QB Tyshun Sarratt, RB Kelvin Kirby, DE Johntavius Smith. NHS - DL Areon Walls, LB Trey McCullough, DB D’Arthur Ratchford.
Need to know: Northwestern has won seven out of 10 against the Indians but the last meeting, Gaffney’s upset win in the playoffs last season still stings, may even more now that head coach David Pierce and offensive coordinator Robert Hellams lost their jobs in last weekend’s surprising moves.
Will the change at the helm spark the Trojans? It’s not clear, but it is likely that Northwestern will try to get standout junior Jamario Holley more involved. The player with the most dynamic abilities on the field most Friday nights had one catch for three yards last week.
Nation Ford (1-3) at Indian Land (1-4)
Last week: Nation Ford beat Lancaster 14-7; Indian Land lost to Chesterfield 48-25
Last meeting: Nation Ford won 40-3 in 2016
Key players: NFHS - DL Travell Crosby, WR Nathan Lovette, LB Michael Peterson. ILHS - QB David Loughry, WR Dominic Pestano, WR Caleb Wallace, CB A. J. Jefferson.
Need to know: Ben Tuipulotu should be back at QB this week for the Falcons, who got a really good relief effort from sophomore Dominic Campo last week with Tuipulotu out suspended. Nation Ford still hasn’t scored more than 16 points in a game but if it can get Tuipulotu and Dewuan McCullum, the team’s most dynamic player who has battled nagging injuries this season, on the field at the same time that stat should change Friday night.
Lancaster (1-3) at Lugoff-Elgin (2-2)
Last week: Lancaster lost to Nation Ford 14-7; Lugoff-Elgin lost to South Aiken 42-0
Last meeting: Lancaster won 32-6 in 2016
Key players: LHS - DL Immanuel Bush, OL Keyonte Stevens, RB Asont’a Clark. LEHS - OL Malik Harkness, OL Wyatt Campbell, RB Deonte Lewis.
Need to know: Lancaster’s 3-for-16 passing performance last week highlighted one of the Bruins’ primary issues: a lack of offensive diversity. Lugoff-Elgin’s results have been all over the place this fall, with blowout losses to River Bluff and South Aiken sandwiching a high-scoring win over Midland Valley and a low-scoring win over A.C. Flora. It will be interesting to see how Lancaster handles a team with an offensive line as big as its own. Harkness and Campbell are college recruits up front for the Demons.
Carolina Pride (3-2) at Chester (4-1)
Last week: Carolina Pride lost to Charlotte Latin 54-26; Chester beat Lower Richland 40-39
Last meeting: Chester won 65-6 in 2016
Key players: CP - QB Mikhil Gangadhard, WR Thomas Thierfelder, RB Brandon Fleming, LB Griffin Starcher. CHS - RB Pha’Leak Brown, RB Jarel Hill, LB Jovonti Jackson.
Need to know: Chester used a strong second half to win last weekend. John Erby has been the spark-plug for Chester’s offense. He has completed 53 of 78 passes for 678 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Quay Hardin and T.J. Hollis give Erby dangerous targets in the passing game with nine of their combined 25 catches going for touchdowns. Hollis has given the Cyclones a huge lift since returning from a finger injury that ruled him out the first three games.
Carolina Pride counters with Nikhil Gangadhard who has completed 21 of 36 passes for 425 yards and five touchdowns. Thomas Thierfelder is the top receiver with 12 catches for 245 yards and three scores.
Lewisville (4-1) at C.A. Johnson (1-3)
Last week: Lewisville beat Eau Claire 40-16; C.A. Johnson lost to Columbia 56-6
Last meeting: Lewisville won 52-0 in 2016
Key players: LHS - QB/LB Rhett Cox, DL Josh Belk, WR Johnny Courtney. CAJHS - WR Daveion Goodwin, DE A’my Jay Thompson, LB D’Angelo Bookman.
Need to know: Lewisville’s defense allowed only 31 total yards and recorded eight sacks in its win against Eau Claire last week. The Lions have won three straight against their former region rivals C.A. Johnson and should be rounding into form with several injured offensive linemen returning to the fray, as well as standout senior receiver Johnny Courtney, who struggled with a back injury earlier in the season. Courtney’s quick move to get free on an 85-yard touchdown catch and run last week suggests he’s feeling better.
North Central (1-3) at Great Falls (0-3)
Last week: North Central lost to Andrew Jackson 28-0; Great Falls was idle.
Last meeting: North Central won 46-0 in 2016
Key players: NCHS - QB Tyler Faulkenberry, RB Bubba Williamson, RB Avante Reynolds. GFHS - QB Trent Isenhower, RB Quay Bowers, WR Zac Roberts, DE Cody Spires.
Need to know: Both teams have gotten off to slow starts. Great Falls has scored only 30 points in three games. Great Falls had won 13 straight against North Central before the Knights won last year’s game easily. Watch for North Central QB Bubba Williamson, a play-maker at QB.