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Midlands Feature High School

 More than a few teams have separated themselves from the pack

By Chris Dearing
Special Contributor

Most of the football teams across the Midlands have at least reached the halfway point of their season and region play has begun.
Clearly, there’s been some front-runners – Dutch Fork and River Bluff in Class AAAAA, Westwood and Brookland-Cayce in Class AAAA and Camden and Gilbert in Class AAA come to mind rather quickly. For a few others, they’re hoping to turn things around in region play and peak come playoff time in early November.

Dutch Fork has been a juggernaut all season. The Silver Foxes are the two-time defending Class AAAAA champions and might be better this season than years past. In five games, Dutch Fork has outscored its opponents 320-42. The lowest number they’ve scored in those five games is 58 in a contest that was called early in the fourth quarter for a disturbance in the crowd.

What might even be more impressive is the Silver Foxes first team defense has allowed one touchdown this season. Also, they’ve punted twice in five games.
“I’ve been coaching 37 years and this team rivals some of my best,” long-time coach Tom Knotts said. “I guess at this point you could say they’re meeting my expectations. We can always do things to be better but right now we’re clicking in every phase of the game.”

The surprise team thus far must be River Bluff. The Gators have started undefeated through five games and has a chance to test their mettle against Dutch Fork this week. They’ve climbed to No. 9 in the most recent rankings and have used a bruising running game to race to the best start in school history.

Braden Walker has rushed for 767 yards and none touchdowns while Antonio Gantt has added 567 yards rushing and nine scores as well.

Blythewood, Irmo, Lexington, Spring Valley and White Knoll all have a chance to be a force in the postseason and at least win a game or two.

In Class AAAA, Brookland-Cayce opened several folks eyes with a comeback victory over North Augusta last week to open region play. The Bearcats were down by 20 points in the third quarter before rallying for a 41-34 victory.
Coach Rusty Charpia hasn’t been shy about his scheduling.

Brookland-Cayce has played three Class AAAAA teams this season and only two Class AAAA squads.
Quarterback Reed Charpia has been the catalyst. The senior has passed for 1,868 yards and 11 scores to have the Bearcats sitting at 4-2 overall.

“I think Class AAAA is wide open,” Charpia said. “We’re sort of flying under the radar a little bit and that’s okay. I think if teams can finish first or second in the region then peak at the right time is sort of what we’re looking to do.”

Westwood gave four-time defending champion South Pointe all it could handle before losing this past week. The Redhawks have two of the better receivers in the state in Cortes Braham and Christian Horn and could be a team that could make a deep run in the playoffs.

A.C. Flora has won three straight after breaking a 13-game losing streak and Lower Richland won its region opener over Dreher.
Camden has been another team that has been a surprise. The Bulldogs currently sit at 5-1 with the only loss to Hartsville. They’re No. 5 in the most recent Class AAA rankings.

The Bulldogs finished 3-8 last year but have used a solid defense along with the play of quarterback Bryce Jeffcoat, running back Willis Lane and receiver Shymeik Corbett to surprise many this season.
Gilbert has lost to Class AAAAA teams Lexington and River Bluff but the two-system quarterback system of Josh Strickland and Jy Tolen will give many teams fits going forward.

Hammond had a test earlier this season against First Baptist, but the defending state champions have several Division I prospects, including defensive linemen Alex Huntley and Jordan Burch. Jackson Muschamp has been a steadying playmaker at quarterback.

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