It’s Week 8 of the 2018 high school football season and the playoffs are looming off in the distance. That’s increasing the importance of games over the next few weeks, including a handful of big ones this week. Camden-Chester, York-Lancaster, Clover-Rock Hill, Nation Ford-Northwestern and McBee-Great Falls all have considerable postseason implications.
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The Herald’s Bret McCormick and Hall of Fame high school football coach Jimmy Wallace discuss Week 8’s interesting matchups:
Lancaster (5-2, 1-1 Region 3-4A) at York (3-3, 2-0)
Last week: Lancaster lost to South Pointe 35-30; York beat Westwood 14-7
Last meeting: York won 46-14 (2017)
Key players: L - OL Fred Reid, ATH Wyquan Massesy, DB Nehamiah Bailey, DB Jaelan Harfield. Y - LB Brian Phillip, DL J.Q. Guinn, RB Frank Thompson, WR Jorden Evans.
Need to know: the Cougars go for a fifth straight win over Lancaster Friday night. More importantly, the Cougars are gunning for the inside track to at least the No. 2 spot in Region 3-4A, and a home playoff game in November. York started 2018 with three straight losses but built its renaissance around defense. The Cougars have 32 tackles-for-loss in the last three games. They’ll have to be creative on defense to slow down Lancaster, which will have an obvious size advantage. The Bruins got so close to beating South Pointe last week they could smell it, but they’ve got to find a way to finish Friday in York. Replicating their fast start against the Stallions would help against offensively-challenged York.
Rock Hill (4-2, 1-0 Region 3-5A) at Clover (4-4, 0-2)
Last week: Rock Hill was idle; Clover lost to Northwestern
Last meeting: Rock Hill won 24-13 (2017)
Key players: RH - OL Devon Rice, DE Thomas Rainey, LB Alex English, WR Antonio Barber (Tennessee commit). C - WR Heze Massey, DB Ryan Jones, ATH Nygle Biggers, DB Jay Falls.
Need to know: The SCHSL 5A playoff bracket only has three teams from Region 3-5A making the postseason, not four like the last two years. That makes this Friday’s game against Rock Hill essentially a must-win for Clover, which is already 0-2 in region play. Rock Hill’s run of three big wins in a row before its bye week came against opponents that were a combined 3-20 this season, so there is still plenty for the Bearcats to prove. But they have found a formula that works, one that they can lean on, in handing the ball to Noah Thompson and Narii Gaither, hitting big plays through Antonio Barber, and rallying as a defensive group to the football.
Nation Ford (4-3, 2-0 Region 3-5A) at Northwestern (1-5, 1-0)
Last week: Nation Ford beat Fort Mill 42-20; Northwestern beat Clover 31-27
Last meeting: Nation Ford won 20-17 (2017)
Key players: NF - DE Jordan Hickman, OL/LB Sam Rygol, DL Ashten Schaufert, LB Michael Peterson. N - DL John Odom, OL Hunter Burbanks, RB Antonio Heath, WR Gregory Bivens Jr.
Need to know: Nation Ford is 1-11 all-time against the Trojans, with the lone victory coming last season courtesy of Skyler DeLong’s late field goal. The Falcons are in a good position in 2018 largely thanks to two factors: the run game with back Nathan Mahaffey, who set the school’s single-season rushing record last week and should become the first Falcon to top 1,000 yards with a normal game this week, and a defense that has forced 20 turnovers in seven games. If Northwestern beats Nation Ford this week, it too will be in a good spot. Keep an eye on the Trojans’ kick return coverage. They gave up two long ones to Clover last week, and the Falcons have a man in Dewuan McCullum that can run a kick back for six points.
Camden (6-1, 1-0 Region 4-3A) at Chester (8-0, 2-0)
Last week: Camden beat Fairfield Central 56-13; Chester beat Keenan 54-6
Last meeting: Chester won 35-14
Key players: CA - QB Bryce Jeffcoat, LB Blake Dalton, DB Jalyn Dubose, OL Josh Barnes. CH - LB Jovonti Jackson, RB Emmanuel Wright, ATH Zion Mills, DL Quay Evans.
Need to know: No. 3-ranked Chester got some good news Wednesday night when senior offensive lineman Wyatt Tunall was named a finalist for the Mr. Football award. The Appalachian State commit has been a central part of the Cyclones’ punishing rushing attack, which averages seven yards per carry and has four different ball-carriers over 497 yards on the season. The Cyclones have won the last six against Camden, dating back to 2004, but this year’s game should be tough. Brian Rimpf has the Bulldogs ranked No. 4 in 3A and they lean on dynamic play-maker Shymeik Corbett, who has over 500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving this season.
McBee (0-7, 0-0) at Great Falls (4-2, 0-0)
Last week: McBee lost to Blacksburg 28-27; Great Falls was idle
Last meeting: McBee won 42-14 (2017)
Key players: M - N/A. GF - LB Scott Blackmon, ATH D.J. Adams, LB/FB Da’Shawn Johnson, OL Anthony Cunningham Jr.
Need to know: there are only four teams in Region 2-A and three of them make the state playoffs. So Friday’s McBee-Great Falls game has an added tinge of urgency thrown in, especially considering 1A winning machine Lamar is almost certain to win the region. McBee coach Johnny Kline is a Rock Hill native and may be the youngest varsity head football coach in South Carolina. Great Falls’ bye week came at a helpful point in the schedule. The Red Devils should be rested and ready to go, especially up front on the offensive and defensive lines. McBee outscored Great Falls a combined 228-27 in four straight wins, but it feels highly unlikely that Friday’s contest will be a blowout, either way.
Richland Northeast (1-5, 0-2 Region 3-4A) at South Pointe (6-1, 2-0)
Last week: Richland Northeast lost to Ridge View 46-11; South Pointe beat Lancaster 35-30
Last meeting: South Pointe won 61-3 (2017)
Key players: RNE - DE Anthony Cleckley, OL/DL Lance Wilson. SP - LB/DB Savion White, LB Justin Corbin, DE Dorian Manning, ATH Marice Whitlock.
Need to know: Richland Northeast has been shut out four times this season and only scored more than 11 points once, so Friday’s game should be one where South Pointe can catch its breath and flex its muscles. Probably a good game for the Stallions to also rest some of the ir key players ahead of the stretch run toward another Region 3-4A title. Strait Herron’s team has now gone 27 games unbeaten in region play, a streak dating to 2013 when they lost to Northwestern.
Keenan (1-6, 0-2 Region 4-3A) at Indian Land (2-5, 0-1)
Last week: Keenan lost to Chester 54-6; Indian Land was idle
Key players: K - WR Tyreik Allen, DB/WR Jonathan Ross, LB Deshon Thomas. IL - LB Robby Csuhta, OL Nick Yarborough, DB/WR A.J. Jefferson, LB Dorian Williams (Coastal Carolina commit).
Need to know: win and you’re in. That’s got to be the mantra for the Warriors this week. If they beat Keenan, and the Raiders don’t win any other Region 4-3A games, then Indian Land is in the 3A state playoffs. The chances of that happening are decent, as Keenan has shown few signs of life the last month. Indian Land’s offense has been an immense struggle this season, but the Warriors have several of the best defensive players in The Herald’s coverage area. Those guys should be able to get Horatio Blades’ team over the hump Friday.
Lewisville (0-7, 0-3 Region 4-2A) at Andrew Jackson (4-3, 0-3)
Last week: Lewisville lost to Lee Central 55-0; Andrew Jackson was idle
Last meeting: Lewisville won 30-6 (2017)
Key players: L - OL Wesley Williamson, ATH Martez Moore. AJ - OL/DL Ben Hinson, K Avery Funderburk, RB/CB Jamie Hinson.
Need to know: Injuries have undone both of these teams, especially Andrew Jackson, which started the season 4-0, but has lost all three Region 4-2A games after two different Vols QBs were injured. Lewisville has won its last four games against Andrew Jackson, only one of them close, but it would be a huge result for the Lions to win a fifth, given how decimated their roster has been by injuries and players leaving the team.
York’s Stephen Oglesby took 60 percent of the votes to win the best play from Week 6. Check out the play nominees from Week 7 above, then vote below for the best one (or here if you’re on a mobile device):
Jackson Chappell, South Pointe - according to Stallions o-line coach Mike Zapolnik, Chappell had his best game for South Pointe last Friday against Lancaster. He graded 93 percent, with six pancakes and five big-time blocks, while allowing zero sacks in the Stallions’ 35-30 win over the Bruins.
Devin Hodges, Nation Ford - Hodges “absolutely dominated” anyone Fort Mill sent his way last week during the Falcons’ 42-20 win over their rivals, according to offensive line coach Taylor Irvin. Hodges graded 92.5 percent, had five pancake blocks and didn’t allow a sack.
Nominated: Jordan Allen, Chester.