Things have changed over the past 11 months in Region 5-5A.
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Back in October, River Bluff and White Knoll battled for the final playoff spot in the region.
The Timberwolves came away with the 23-7 victory over the Gators in The Swamp. The victory capped a successful first season under first-year head coach Nick Pelham for White Knoll, while River Bluff ended its worst season under head coach C. Blair Hardin with a six-game losing streak.
When the two teams meet this week in the Wolves Den, the stakes are much different. Strong starts by the Timberwolves and Gators have them ranked in the S.C. Prep Football Media Class 5A poll. More importantly, a share of first place in Region 5-5A is on the line.
White Knoll (6-0) enters the contest off to its best start in school history. The Timberwolves have averaged 38.5 points per game while holding opponents to 12.6 points a contest.
Despite suffering the first loss of the season at the hands of Dorman, the Gators have nearly tripled their win total from a year ago. They have posted similar numbers as White Knoll, averaging 40.5 points on offense and holding opponents to 17.8 points a game.
Both teams also have productive leading running backs in River Bluff’s Cooper Johns and White Knoll’s Jeff Ross.
The contest is the WACH 57 Sonic Friday Night Rivals Game of the Week. It will air on Spectrum (Channel 1250) and will be streamed at WACH.com.
Team of the Week – White Knoll (see above)
Week Five Gridiron Giants
Brady Albro (Chapin) – 248 passing yards, two touchdowns
Jaden Allen-Hendrix (Gilbert) – 109 rushing yards, touchdown
Alias Graham-Woodberry (Gilbert) – 100 rushing yards
Brendon Boatwright (Gilbert) – 17 tackles, sack
Kelvin Blackwell (Gilbert) – 12 tackles
Jordan Smith (Gilbert) – 11 tackles, forced fumble
Caleb Ford (Gray Collegiate) – 180 rushing yards, two touchdowns
Devin Johnson (Gray Collegiate) – 150 total yards, three touchdowns
A.J. Brand (Irmo) – 318 passing yards, four touchdowns
Erick Tucker (Irmo) – 138 rushing yards; eight receptions, 114 receiving yards, two touchdowns
Telvin Smith (Irmo) – seven receptions, 123 receiving yards
Omari Mills (Irmo) – nine tackles, three sacks, safety
Parker Murray (River Bluff) – 229 passing yards, two touchdowns
Jesse Ross (White Knoll) – 83 rushing yards, three touchdowns
Landon Sharpe (White Knoll) – 193 passing yards, two touchdowns
Demenico Banks (White Knoll) – nine tackles, sack
The 26-7 loss to St. Frances Academy (No. 3 nationally according to MaxPreps)marked an end to several streaks for Dutch Fork. It was the first regular season loss in 43 straight games, the first home loss in 33 games and marked the first time since 2009, the year prior to head coach Tom Knotts’ arrival, the Silver Foxes were held without a touchdown or field goal. Dutch Fork will now look to extend a 28-game region-winning streak when it faces White Knoll.
By the Numbers
Dutch Fork linebacker Jaylen Hinton has 54 tackles. Gilbert linebacker Jake Torbett has 51 total tackles. Running back Jaden Allen-Hendrix has 11 rushing touchdowns.
A total of four teams – White Knoll, Airport, Northside Christian Academy and River Bluff – have either matched or surpassed their win total from a year ago. Batesburg-Leesville can become the fifth team with its next victory.
Top College Performances from Chronicle Country
QB Aveon Smith (Miami, Ohio) of White Knoll – two touchdowns in win over Northwestern
WR Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee) of Dutch Fork – five receptions, 58 receiving yards in win over Florida
WR Antonio Williams (Clemson) of Dutch Fork – four receptions, 51 receiving yards in overtime win over Wake Forest
WR Elijah Spencer (Charlotte) of Dutch Fork – five receptions, 59 receiving yards, touchdown in loss to the University of South Carolina
For the third time in four weeks, Williams-Brice Stadium will serve as a return to the Midlands for Chronicle Country graduates.
This week’s University of South Carolina opponent, South Carolina State, has seven players:
- RB Kendrell Flowers and TE Jordan Springs (both of Irmo)
- TE Lawson Danley and OL Cam Johnson (both of Dutch Fork)
- OL Wheslen McCleod (Gray Collegiate Academy)
- OL Nick Taiste (White Knoll)
- RB Tykese Walker (Gilbert)
Kickoff is tentatively set for 7 p.m. Sept. 29. The game will air on the SEC Network and ESPN Plus.
“Now I know how the rest of the state feels playing us the last few years. It was entirely frustrating as an offensive coach. Our defense played as tough as they could for as tough of a position our offense put us in all night.” – Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts following the 23-7 loss to St. Frances Academy.
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