By Thomas Grant Jr.
A two-game winning streak has the River Bluff football team entering Region 4-5A play with momentum.
The same is true for undefeated and seventh-ranked White Knoll. For the second straight year, the Timberwolves are 5-0 to start the season.
This year, they are determined not to fall into a similar second-half slump where they lost four of their final five games.
To do so, they have to emerge once again victorious like two years ago in The Swamp, where it’s also Homecoming for River Bluff.
The players are more focused on the opportunity to end Dutch Fork’s run of 13 straight region won or shared under head coach Tom Knotts. Given the Silver Foxes struggles, head coach C. Blair Hardin has stressed the importance of the second half of the season.
“We talked about it (Sunday) with our kids that these next four games will be like a playoff game,” he said. “Our conference is as good as anybody in the state, and we’ve got to play at a high level because every Friday is going to be extremely tough.”
River Bluff is coming off a comeback 29-28 victory over Dorman. Trailing 28-16 in the fourth quarter, the Gators put together two scoring drives and got key defensive stops to upend the Cavaliers.
“They’ve got grit and it’s going to take that over these next four games to play at a high level,” Hardin said. “We’ve got to have great practices with grit to compete with White Knoll because they’re really good. It was a good test to play Dorman before our region because that’s how every game is going to be.”
The Timberwolves have allowed a total of 36 points all season, led by Shrine Bowl linebacker Jaiden Kimble.
“He’s extremely fast and a really good football player,” said Hardin about Kimble. “You just try to know where he’s going to be and try to put your kids in the right position to succeed. He’s a handful for sure.”
White Knoll also has a balanced offense with quarterback Landon Sharpe, running back Tiyon Fanning and wide receivers Devin and Caleb Geronomi and Hasan Lee, another Shrine Bowl selection.
Since the shutout loss to Irmo, River Bluff’s offense has regained its footing. Hardin said with only two seniors on offense, they have looked to teach and get better each week and rely upon good decisions from quarterback Parker Murray.
South Carolina Prep Football Class 5A Poll
1. Summerville (22) (5-0)
2. Hillcrest (6-0)
3. Byrnes (1) (5-1)
4. Gaffney (4-2)
5. TL Hanna (5-1)
6. Spartanburg (4-2)
7. White Knoll (5-0)
8. Lexington (4-1)
9. Fort Dorchester (2-2)
10. Sumter (4-2)
Others receiving votes: Ashley Ridge, JL Mann, Clover, Chapin, River Bluff, Boiling Springs, Dutch Fork