High School Football

Week Zero high school football preview capsules

Jimmy Wallace and Bret McCormick break down South Pointe versus Northwestern season opener

Check out legendary former high school football coach Jimmy Wallace and Herald sports editor Bret McCormick break down the huge Week Zero matchup between Rock Hill rivals South Pointe and Northwestern.
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Check out legendary former high school football coach Jimmy Wallace and Herald sports editor Bret McCormick break down the huge Week Zero matchup between Rock Hill rivals South Pointe and Northwestern.

South Pointe at Northwestern

Last meeting: Northwestern won 35-34 in overtime (2015)

Key players: N – Jr. OL Alex Parker; Soph. WR Jamario Holley, Jr. WR Jordan Starkes; Sr. DE Logan Rudolph; Sr. LB Caliph Brice; SP – Jr. K B.T. Potter, Sr. DB Ken’darius Frederick; Sr. LB Bryson Cooper; Sr. RB Voshon St. Hill.

Need to know: The Trojans are ranked 15th nationally in MaxPreps’ composite rankings. Even without early national recognition, South Pointe is a dangerous team. Neither coaching staff will have seen much if any film from the scrimmages regarding special teams play, an area where the Stallions generally excel and could make some game-breaking plays. Neither team is very big up front either, so the team that can establish the run and set up its quick passing spread attacks should be able to do some damage.

Ashbrook at Clover

Last meeting: Clover won 10-7 (2011)

Key players: A – Sr. WR Malik Hyatt; Jr. WR Elijah Fife; Sr. DB Jacquez Armstrong; Soph. LB Antwan McClee. C – Sr. FB/LB Willy Clark; Sr. OL Jack McGivern; Jr. OL Preston Vang; Jr. QB Garrett Miller; Sr. DE Derrick Phillips.

Need to know: Ashbrook returns five starters on defense, but just two from the front seven, which will be constantly tested by a huge Clover front line. The Blue Eagles averaged around 280 pounds per man on the offensive line; they’ll pave holes for Semaj Larkin and Willy Clark, who is lining up at fullback this season and should be able to attack defenses head-on, after playing wingback last season.

Fort Mill at Spring Valley

Last meeting: N/A

Key players: FM – Jr. WR/DB Ryan Heriot; Sr. OL Nolan McGraw; Sr. QB Ryan DeLuca; Sr. WR Thomas Chrisley; Sr. LB Patrick Mead. SV –Sr. LB Shaun Moore; Sr. RB Terrell Jackson; Jr. LB Channing Tendall.

Need to know: Fort Mill hasn’t lost a season opener since 2009, while Spring Valley hasn’t dropped its curtain-raiser since 2010. Only one of those streaks will survive into next week and the Yellow Jackets have a good chance to make sure it is theirs. Coach Ed Susi runs a unique offensive scheme that keeps opponents on its heels, and as long as he can find a more physical compliment to scat-back Ronnie Hughes – junior A.J. Johnson may be the guy – Fort Mill should maintain its success of the last two seasons.

Irmo at Nation Ford

Last meeting: Never played

Key players: I –Sr. DB Zafir Kelly; Sr. RB Shakeem Bradley; Sr. WR/RB Jeff Tharp. NF – Sr. QB Kirk Rygol; Sr. WR Alex Stennett; Sr. DB Harry Goodwin; Jr. WR Montre Miller; Sr. OL Damian Peeples.

Need to know: Irmo has only had one winning season in the last five, but still pose a threat to a rebuilding Falcons team. Since Nation Ford’s 38-0 season-opening shutout of Forestview in 2012, the Falcons have allowed an average of 44.6 points per game in their last three first games of a season. This year’s defense, led by All-Area picks Ben Tuipulotu and Corbin Tesimale, should get off to a better start.

Rock Hill at Blythewood

Last meeting: Blythewood won 27-13 (2015)

Key players: RH –Jr. WR Eric Stroud; Sr. WR Qua Brice; Sr. QB Dre Robinson; Sr. LB Jamaal Smith; Sr. DB Nick Truesdale; Sr. OL Alex Melton. B –Sr. WR Roger Carter Jr.; Sr. ATH Jordyn Adams; Sr. LB Micah Byrd; Sr. LB Cassius Garner; Sr. LB Nathaniel Brunson.

Need to know: Blythewood named its starting QB just last week, so plenty of kinks still to work out for the Bengals, coached by former Northwestern Trojan Dan Morgan. Blythewood is on an upward trajectory, though, after winning nine games and making the second round of the playoffs last season. The Bengals got an influx of transfers from Westwood that should help, including Carter Jr. and Brunson. Rock Hill and Blythewood have split a pair of games in the last two years.

Lancaster at Indian Land

Last meeting: N/A

Key players: L – Sr. LB Casey Hegler, Sr. DB Keenan Barnes Sr. LB Desmond Ricks, Sr. RB Ant Foster. IL – Soph. DB Dorian Williams, Sr. OL/ DL Jeremy Montgomery, Jr. WR/ DB John Gregory, Sr. RB Lee Massey.

Need to know: This is the first part of a harder schedule for both teams, with Lancaster stepping up from a slate heavy on 1A and 2A schools and Indian Land coming to grips with its growth and the bigger schools it will be required to play. The clock should move in this one, especially when Lancaster has the ball. Senior Ant Foster looked almost unstoppable plowing over defenders at the Chester County Jamboree.

Chester at Westwood

Last meeting: Never played

Key players: C –Sr. QB Malik Williams; Soph. OL Wyatt Tunnall; Jr. DB Quay Hardin; Sr. RB/LB Corey Wright; Jr. WR John Erby; Sr. DT Jarez Hardin; W – Sr. RB Rudy Mitchell; Sr. OL Ryan Hiller; LB Darieus McCaskill.

Need to know: It’s been a rough offseason at Westwood; the RedHawks lost their coach to a new school down at the coast and suffered a number of transfers, including the starting QB and several wide receivers and linebackers that started. Rudy Mitchell is still at Westwood, though. One of the state’s best running backs, he’ll be a challenge for Chester, which has one of the best all-around athletes in Malik Williams.

Lewisville at Andrew Jackson

Last meeting: Lewisville won 49-39 (2013)

Key players: L – - Jr. DL Josh Belk, Sr. ATH Mike Hill, Soph. WR Johnny Courtney, Sr. QB Trey Keels. AJ – Sr. LB Dalton Haven; Sr. WR Heath Gandy.

Need to know: Lewisville’s season begins with the biggest school – enrollment-wise – on the schedule, Andrew Jackson. The Lions’ slate is considerably easier than the last few seasons, but Will Mitchell’s team still has to deliver. It showed big-play ability on both sides of the ball in preseason, but keeping emotions in check will be critical, especially in bigger games than the season opener.

New Covenant at Great Falls

Last meeting: Never played

Key players: NC – N/A; GF – Jr. LB/RB Trent Isenhower; Sr. OL ZyKevious McIlwain; Jr. QB Connor Henson; Sr. RB Aaron Rice.

Need to know: Great Falls’ schedule reflects its low numbers, which is a good thing. The Red Devils struggled with Charlotte 4A school Garinger in the Chester County Jamboree, but did pretty well in a scrimmage against Carolina Crusaders, a school similar to New Covenant. It’s going to take John Barrett’s program time to get a feel for the spread offense, but Connor Henson is a QB that can sling the ball around a bit. These kinds of games will be valuable for Great Falls ahead of a tough region.