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Midlands Feature High School

Numerous Midlands Football Teams Unbeaten With One Month Left In regular Season

By Chris Dearing

Special Contributor

Columbia--With a month to go in the regular season, there still are four Midland teams with an opportunity of finishing with an unbeaten record. They also feature at least one other team that likely will have plenty to say when the playoffs begin in November.

Spring Valley, Gilbert, Newberry and Hammond all go into the final month of the season unbeaten.

Spring Valley coach Robin Bacon and the Vikings are currently ranked fourth in the state in Class AAAAA by the High School Sports Report. Before the season began, Bacon wasn’t sure how his team would respond but has liked what he’s seen thus far.

“We had some question marks along the offensive line and in the secondary but those guys have stepped up and contributed in big ways,” said Coach Bacon. “But having all our skill position players back on offense and most of our front seven on defense has helped those two units come along.”

Quincy Hill has been the trigger man for the Vikings option attack. He’s run for team-leading 483 yards with five touchdowns while throwing for an additional 742 yards and 10 scores. He’s averaging over 32 yards per completion with top target Malik Wesley having 11 catches for 405 yards and five touchdowns.

“Quincy puts in a good position with his decision-making,” said Coach Bacon. “Four of our five starters up front were playing junior varsity football least year. With that much inexperience up front, you could get exposed quickly but Hill and the running backs have done an excellent job getting us out of wrong calls and into the right play.”

Spring Valley still has a showdown with No. 3 Dutch Fork looming that will determine the Region 5-AAAAA championship.

The Silver Foxes only have a blemish against top-ranked Fort Dorchester and seemed to be hitting their stride at the right time. They’ve outscored Westwood and Blythewood 125-7 the last two weeks.

Gilbert has opened the 2017 season very similar to last year. The Indians won nine in a row to start the season last year before ending with a 10-2 record after losing in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.

So far this year, Gilbert is 6-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class AAA by the High School Sports Report.

But coach Chad Leaphart, who is just in his second season at his alma mater, has seen a big improvement in his team.

“We’ve had another year in our program and I think that’s helped some,” Leaphart said as the Indians were getting ready to host Brookland-Cayce, the only team to beat them in the regular season last year. “I think our guys understand what we’re looking for a little bit better and frankly, I think our overall team speed has gotten better.”

Josh Strickland and Jy Tolen, both sophomores, have split time at quarterback. Strickland has thrown for 1,120 yards with eight touchdowns while Tolen has thrown for 498 and five scores.

Manny Bright is the top target with 43 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns. Cody Temples has rushed for 557 yards and 10 touchdowns while DeAndre Cook has added 467 yards and four scores.

Gilbert hasn’t scored less than 37 points yet in a game this season.

“We’re a more balance team on offense than we were a year ago,” said Coach Leaphart. “We’ve actually thrown for more yards than we’ve rushed for and that’s different for us. But again, I think our speed has really helped that. Plus, Strickland and Tolen have played pretty dang well.”

Newberry and Coach Phil Strickland also are undefeated and sitting at No. 3 in Class AAA. The Bulldogs still have top-ranked Chapman and No. 6 Broome on the schedule this season.

Hammond is 6-0 and looking like the team to beat in SCISA Class AAA. The Skyhawks have used the passing of Corbett Glick (94-of-133, 1,331 yards and 22 touchdowns) in racing to the undefeated mark. Lucas Prickett (35 catches, 598 yards, 9 TD’s) has been his top target despite missing time with an injury early in the season.

Coach Erik Kimrey said Hammond might have the best defensive line since he’s been there. Alex Huntley and Jordan Burch are both over 6-4, 260 pounds and can create havoc on an offense.

“Everything starts with your play up front,” said Coach Kimrey. “This defensive line might be the best we’ve ever had at the school. Those guys create a matchup problem for everyone that we play. Our offensive line has made great strides. That’s really helped us out.”

 

Midlands Top 10 rankings

1.Spring Valley

2. Dutch Fork

3.Gilbert

4. Newberry

5 Hammond

6. Chapin

 7. Brookland-Cayce

8. Ben Lippen

9. Lexington

10. Irmo

 

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