Dutch Fork surging through playoffs after shaky season

Posted 11/22/23

Dutch Fork struggled early and started 0-3. The last time Dutch Fork had more than one loss in a season was in 2015 when the team was still in 4A. 

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Dutch Fork surging through playoffs after shaky season


Dutch Fork has sat atop the 5A football class in South Carolina for years.

And while it didn’t look like it would be the case earlier this season, as the Silver Foxes struggled, they’re right back where they’ve become accustomed to being at this point in the season: the Upper State final.

Dutch Fork struggled early and started 0-3. The last time Dutch Fork had more than one loss in a season was in 2015 when the team was still in 4A. 

The Silver Foxes put an end to their losing streak with a win over Stratford on Sept. 8 and followed that up with a win the next week. But the struggles were still present, and the team dropped its next two games.

“We just couldn’t get out of our own way, and it lasted a lot longer than I thought that it would,” Dutch Fork head coach Tom Knotts said. “But we still believed and thought that we would be here in November, and this is our time of year, and we’re clicking right now.”

Since the team’s loss to White Knoll in the region opener, Dutch Fork has won six consecutive games and revived its hopes of winning the state championship.

Throughout the season the message has stayed the same. The team never lost doubt despite its record and believed it could work out its problems.

“TK was emphasizing, couldn’t emphasize enough, stick with it, we’re going to click, we’re going to keep going,” Dutch Fork receiver Jacob Hamilton said. “We’re going to call it the greatest story ever.”

The team lost its first three games by a combined score of 85-40. The team was forced to rely on sophomore quarterback Ethan Offing due to injuries, and his inexperience showed, with just three touchdowns and three interceptions in that span. 

Offing, like the team, is having an end-of-season comeback. He was once again thrust into the starting role and helped Dutch Fork win its last two playoff games, scoring five total touchdowns with no turnovers. 

Dutch Fork’s season truly turned around once the team hit region play, but before that, it picked up two crucial wins against Stratford and North Augusta.  

In these games, both Dutch Fork’s offense and defense clicked, and the team outscored its opponents 95-19. That success did not last long, and the team narrowly dropped both of its next two games 17-14.

“We couldn’t get out of our own way at the beginning of the season,” Knotts said. “I mean, we just couldn’t. It didn’t matter what we did. I was bad. They were not as good as what I usually like.”

The loss to White Knoll was the last of the season for Dutch Fork. But it also meant that for the first time since before moving to 5A the Silver Foxes failed to win their region title.

 Since then, the team has looked dominant and won its last six games, including five by more than three scores. 

“Everybody believed, everybody stayed and basically nobody gave up,” running back Maurice Anderson said. 

In the playoffs, Dutch Fork is 3-0 with wins over Boiling Springs, TL Hanna and Gaffney. The Silver Foxes beat Boiling Springs 56-7 and then hit the road to play TL Hanna.

The game against TL Hanna was close, and Dutch Fork could have been eliminated that night, if not for the effort from Elgin Sessions to block a potential game-tying field goal. The Silver Foxes went on to escape that game with a 31-28 win.

 “I knew we were going to do something in the playoffs because it was clicking,” Anderson said. “It was clicking as we were winning.”

 Dutch Fork shut down Gaffney Nov. 17, winning 35-10 to advance to the Upper State championship. Knotts said he is excited to be practicing for another game during the holiday week.

 “I’m used to playing on Thanksgiving,” Knotts said. “I love playing. It’s my favorite week of the year, and I just appreciate these seniors and the team for allowing me to get the Thanksgiving practice again. There’s nothing better.”

 The Silver Foxes will stay home and host JL Mann for a trip to the championship game. Hamilton said the team will remember this season for how it performs in these games, not the ones from the beginning. 

 “A rocky Start does not define who we are,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to keep pounding, keep going and take it day by day, practice by practice, Friday by Friday and get through the playoffs.”


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