By Thomas Grant Jr.
Having to wait two weeks to resume play after suffering the first loss of the season is not how Lexington High School hoped to begin the Region 4-5A season.
But that’s where the eighth-ranked Wildcats found themselves after losing 14-3 to Gilbert. They return to action Friday playing host to a streaking Chapin team which has won five straight games.
“As any team that was off to a good start, we took a few days to get over that one,” Lexington head coach Dustin Curtis said. “We have moved on but realize we have to do some things differently if we do not want a repeat of what occurred at Gilbert.
“We certainly used the bye week to sharpen up a few things and look at some personnel groups, etc. on offense. We are refocused and excited for Friday and the opportunity to get back on track.”
Lexington faces the challenge of slowing down an Eagles’ offense which is averaging 37.6 points during the winning streak. Quarterback Brady Albro has thrown for 1,579 yards and 15 touchdowns and his wide receivers are gaining confidence each week. “They are really, really efficient and do a great job of moving the chains,” Curtis said. “They have hit a few explosive plays, but so much of what you see is patience, execution, and consistency in what they are doing. Hats off to Coach (Jody) Haltiwanger and the offensive staff, as they have the entire group playing really well right now.”
Curtis said he’s challenged his leaders to be consistent with their mindset every day and to take nothing for granted. Quarterback Taiden Mines is coming off a season-low in passing yards and he was sacked six times.
“We must play sound, clean, and efficient football to be successful this season,” he said. “We have the pieces to compete with anyone, but we have to play really well in all three phases to do that. We haven’t put together a full 4 quarters yet, and we really challenged our guys to do that this week.”
Lexington (4-1) has won four of the last five meetings with Chapin (5-1).
GILBERT, WHITE KNOLL
ARE STILL UNDEFEATED
Both the Indians and Timberwolves open region play Friday with 5-0 records.
Gilbert, ranked fourth in Class 3A, is coming off a 49-27 victory over Saluda. It opens defense of its Region 5-3A title at home against Lower Richland.
“We always tell our guys on region ball that’s the most important time of the year,” Gilbert head coach Chad Leaphart said. “If we don’t play well in region ball, there is no fourth season as we say. There are no playoffs. I think our guys will be motivated, ready to go.”
Ranked seventh in Class 5A, White Knoll defeated Lancaster 42-8. It travels to The Swamp to face River Bluff.
River Bluff (5-1) 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,” River Bluff head coach C. Blair 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.”
WEEK FIVE GRIDIRON GIANTS
Jaylen Jay (Gilbert) – 114 rushing yards, two touchdowns; five receptions, 143 yards, two touchdowns
Drake Braddock (Gilbert) – 262 passing yards, four touchdowns
Wynn Meetze (Gilbert) – 15 tackles
Griffin Linder and Hayden Cushman (both of River Bluff) – six tackles each
Landon Sharpe (White Knoll) – 219 passing yards, four touchdowns
Evan Henderson (White Knoll) – five receptions, 78 yards, two touchdowns
Lincoln Ilunga and Tyler Stoudemire (both of White Knoll) – seven tackles, sack
South Carolina Prep Football 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
1. Daniel (19) (5-0)
2. Belton Honea Path (4) (5-0)
3. Dillon (4-1)
4. Gilbert (5-0)
5. Chapman (5-1)
6. Crestwood (4-1)
7. Chester (5-1)
8. Broome (5-1)
9. Manning (5-0)
10. Philip Simmons (6-0)
Others receiving votes: Camden, Clinton, Brookland-Cayce, Crescent, Seneca
(Photo by Lexington High School)