High School Football

Can Northwestern surprise Dutch Fork? Who else to watch? Here’s a preview of Week 5.

Several team storylines will be coming to a head in Week 5 of the high school football season.

Among them: Northwestern’s matchup with Dutch Fork on Friday night will mark the end of an unforgiving non-region schedule; Clover’s contest against Irmo could result in the best start to a season for the program since 2016 — and more.

Here’s what you need to know.

Northwestern ends brutal non-region schedule

A cursory glance at the Northwestern football team’s résumé halfway through its 2019 season leaves you wanting more.

The Trojans are 1-4. They’ve given up 108 more points than they’ve scored and have been shut out twice. They’re earning an average of 169.8 yards per game and allowing an average of 318.4, and their closest game is also their only win.

But those facts alone don’t seem to tell the fairest story of the team’s season thus far. Northwestern opened its season with a three-point loss to South Pointe — a team that remains unbeaten who defeated Northwestern’s region foe, Rock Hill, earlier in the season. The Trojans then embarked on a brutal four-game stretch of schedule that first-year head coach Page Wofford inherited: traveling to Byrnes, Dorman, Ridge View, Sumter and, this week, welcoming Dutch Fork.

All five of those teams were ranked in the top-10 in South Carolina’s preseason high school football media polls (ranked by school size). And Dutch Fork topped the 5A classification.

Coach Wofford told The Herald that he and his coaching staff have spent the last five weeks “learning where the program is,” improving in increments that haven’t yet resulted in a tangible product.

“We could have improved, from week to week, 10-fold, and we have made a lot of improvements in the program and on the teams, and the kids are buying in, but when you play teams like we’re playing, sometimes that improvement doesn’t show on the scoreboard or in the record,” Wofford said.

“Our kids have to have faith, and we talk about it all the time: ‘Faith is belief without sight.’ We talk a lot about believing in what we’re doing, and they will see the results at some point. Maybe not this week, maybe not last week, but at some point, the results that we’re working toward will come to fruition.”

The arrival of Dutch Fork doesn’t mark the end of a tough schedule. In fact, afterward, the Trojans will travel to Clover, another undefeated team.

But it does, however, conclude a brutal non-region schedule.

“We go into every game planning to win, with a gameplan to do it,” Wofford said. “Now, we understand that with some of the teams we’re playing, those gameplans are going to have to come off perfectly, and we haven’t played perfectly … but we’re getting better.”

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Rock Hill’s Regan Chisolm (23) tries to chase down Indian Land’s Jaden Peoples Friday night in Indian Land. Tracy Kimball tkimball@heraldonline.com

Friday’s full football schedule

All kickoffs are scheduled for Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Fort Mill (1-4) at York (1-4): Fort Mill and York are both looking to engender their seasons in their final contest before region play. York’s sole win came over Indian Land; Fort Mill defeated Lancaster.

LISTEN: FM 107.1.

Clover (5-0) at Irmo (2-3): The last time Clover won its first five games — like the team has this year — was 2016. With a win on Friday night, Clover will extend its unbeaten streak to six games, the first time the program has done so since 2010.

WATCH: Cable 103.

Rock Hill (3-2) at Lugoff-Elgin (2-3): Rock Hill took care of business against York last weekend, and this upcoming Friday night, it’ll travel to Lugoff-Elgin — a team that beat Fort Mill by seven last week. The Bearcats’ leading tackler is Alex English, who in four games played, leads the team in tackles with 29.

LISTEN: FM 94.3.

Indian Land (3-3) at South Pointe (4-0): Fresh off an impressive win over Greenville last week, South Pointe looks to remain unbeaten against Indian Land. Heading into Friday night, the Stallions are ranked third in the South Carolina media poll.

LISTEN: FM 104.1.

Dutch Fork (3-0-1) at Northwestern (1-4): LISTEN: FM 100.1/AM 1340

Carolina (2-3) at Chester (4-1): In its homecoming game, Chester will welcome Carolina, a team that has had an up-and-down season thus far — its crest coming in its Sept. 13 win over Lewisville, and its trough in a lopsided loss to Charlotte Latin.

LISTEN: 90.3 FM.

Pageland Central (2-3) at Lewisville (2-2): The Lewisville Lions are coming off a bye, and the week before, they lost to the Carolina Bearcats, 35-24.

Great Falls (3-2) at Ware Shoals (1-4): Great Falls got back on track with a 26-7 win over Dixie last weekend, behind an all-around effort from 3A, 2A, 1A Co-Offensive Player of the Week, D.J. Adams — who accumulated 273 all-purpose yards (passing, rushing and receiving).

Legion Collegiate (1-1) at Oceanside Collegiate (4-0): In a season that has been truncated by last second (and sometimes unexplained) cancellations, Legion Collegiate will face its toughest test of the season yet against a fellow South Carolina public charter school, Oceanside Collegiate.