Thursday Morning Quarterback: A New Season Begins

Posted 8/18/22

High School football is back with some exceptions.

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Thursday Morning Quarterback: A New Season Begins

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High School football is back with some exceptions.

While Gilbert and both SCISA schools, Northside Christian and W.W. King, will have an extra week of preseason work, the other 12 Chronicle Country teams will start play this week in Week 0.

Pelion and Dutch Fork are among the first teams in action. The Panthers traveled to Bethune-Bowman at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, and the Silver Foxes will open the following night at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. against Hough (N.C.) as part of Kickoff Night in Charlotte.

The scheduled Thursday game is not the only atypical thing about this year’s Silver Foxes. For the first time since 2015, they don’t enter the season as a former state champion.

Dutch Fork saw its five-year reign in Class 5A end in shocking fashion against Gaffney at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. The loss also ended its 62-game undefeated streak, 61-game winning streak against Palmetto State teams and S.C. High School League record 28-game playoff winning streak.

The Silver Foxes still have two streaks they can extend:

- 34 straight road victories (Thursday’s contest is a neutral site game)

- 28 straight Region 5-5A victories.

Dutch Fork also still has head coach Tom Knotts, who makes his return to the city where he established his legacy by winning eight state titles.

“Because of what happened, the motivation is still the same,” Knotts said. “It left a bitter taste in our mouth. We win 60-something games in a row and then lose one and then feel like losers all off-season. If that doesn’t motivate these seniors, I don’t think anything will.”

This is the first of five straight games away from Irmo for Dutch Fork, which will play games in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. When the Silver Foxes return home to a newly installed turf field, they will face St. Francis out of Baltimore, Md.

Meanwhile, there is a defending state champion in Chronicle Country.

The Gray Collegiate Academy football team look to repeat while extending what is now the area’s longest winning streak at 10 games.

While record-setting running back K.Z. Adams is now at Georgia State, the War Eagles still have the same system and key players who helped win 14 games last year. Quarterback Riley Staton is now a full-time starter and demonstrated his comfort level with the position during the preseason.

B.J. Montgomery and Caleb Ford will look to produce rushing numbers akin to Adams. Gray Collegiate returns two starters on the offensive line and the defense remains a steady group under defensive coordinator Howie Bayer.

The War Eagles open the season Friday in Mount Pleasant against sister school Oceanside Collegiate. The game is not only for charter school bragging rights, but a possible state title game preview with the Landsharks moving down to Class 2A.

NEW COACHES

Both Airport and Batesburg-Leesville will have new but experienced leadership on the sidelines this fall.

Longtime assistant coach Andre Cook will now lead the Eagles, replacing retired Hall of Fame coach Kirk Burnett. Former Conway head coach Greg Lawson takes the reins with the Panthers. Former Panthers head coach Greg Adams is now an assistant coach down the road at Gilbert High School.

NEW RULE

A new feature at South Carolina High School League could have fans headed to the exits earlier on Friday nights.

Starting this season, there will be a running clock “mercy rule” at games in which a team takes a 42-point lead in the second half.

The rule will follow what’s stated by the S.C. Football Coaches Association where the clock is only stopped for timeouts, scores, injuries where someone has to attend to athlete on field and penalty enforcement.

Some have called it the “Dutch Fork rule” as the Silver Foxes have posted 33 victories of 42 or more points each 2016.

REALIGNMENT SHAKEUP

The biannual reclassification in the South Carolina High School League saw two Class 2A schools on the move.

Gray Collegiate will now compete in Region 4-2A with Pelion moving from the Lower State to take the War Eagles’ spot in the Upper State Region 3-2A.

It’s the reverse for Irmo whose Upper State region is now Region 5-4A in the Lower State. 

In Region 5-3A, Brookland-Cayce, Gilbert and Swansea welcome in Lower Richland and Dreher.

COVER CONTEST

Dutch Fork linebacker Chandler Perry edged out Airport wide receiver Apollos Cook to win the annual Pick the Cover contest for the 2022 Lexington Chronicle High School Football Edition.

This marks the second straight year a Silver Fox player has graced the cover. Last year, running back Jarvis Green shared the cover with Irmo safety and University of South Carolina freshman Nick Emmanwori.

A total of 1,466 votes were cast online.

QUOTABLE

“So, we need the six-quarter rule to keep kids interested. JV kids want to play on Friday night. That’s why we’re losing kids. They want they want to play and dress varsity. We’re smart enough at the 5A level to know if I play a kid too much. You put some rules or play a kid or something on it, we need the six-quarter rule. Otherwise, we can’t compete nationally like I’m forced to do when people don’t play us.”

Dutch Fork head football coach Tom Knotts said this regarding the “six-quarter rule” proposal which was voted down earlier this year by the S.C. High School League. The rule would allow junior varsity players to suit up for their regularly scheduled games as at least two quarters of varsity football.

WHERE TO FOLLOW GAMES

Television

Swansea at Airport — WACH 57 (Channel 1400 on Spectrum)

Radio

Batesburg-Leesville at Clinton — WBLR (1430 AM)

Friday Night in the Midlands — WNKT (107.5 FM)

On the Web

Chapin at Irmo - facebook.com/groups/ChapinFootball

Brookland-Cayce at J.F. Byrnes — thedove1620.com

Swansea at Airport - wach.com

 

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