By Thomas Grant Jr.
It’s the midway point of the season and Gilbert and White Knoll stand as the lone unbeaten in the Lake Murray region.
The fourth-ranked Indians knocked off previously undefeated Lexington 14-3 this past Friday at Leonard Price Field. The defense held the Wildcats to a season-low in points and total yards (165) and the offense got touchdowns from quarterback Drake Braddock to Matt Edwards and running back Jaylen Jay.
This marks the sixth time Gilbert has started 4-0 under head coach Chad Leaphart. Just two weeks ago, he surpassed Marty Woolbright as the winningest head coach in school history.
“I had a lot of wins here over the years, but that one there is one of the finest,” Leaphart said after the game. “They are a 5A school ranked third in the state, coming to our house in front of our people. And we got the dub in a grind-it-out game — so proud of you guys.”
The Indians are involved in another matchup of undefeated ranked teams this Friday at home. This time, it’s sixth-ranked Saluda of Class 2A which is coming off a bye week.
The Tigers hold a 7-4 edge over Gilbert in the all-time series. They have won the last two meetings, including a 33-21 victory last year.
Over in Red Bank, White Knoll is also 4-0 for the second straight year and made its debut in the top 10 of the Class 5A South Carolina Prep Media poll.
The eighth-ranked Timberwolves routed South Aiken 67-6 for “Homecoming”. It was the most points scored in a game for White Knoll since 2019 when it defeated Gray Collegiate 68-42 behind nine touchdowns from quarterback Aveon Smith.
Quarterback Landon Sharpe threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for one score and running back Tiyan Fanning rushed for three touchdowns.
It was White Knoll’s defense which overwhelmed South Aiken’s offense and quarterback Terrence Smith. The All-State senior was held to a season-low 72 passing yards and -11 rushing yards and a touchdown.
He did not play in the second half.
“They beat us on all fronts. That’s it,” South Aiken head coach Chris Hamilton said. “There’s nothing else to say. They totally dominated us. We got banged up. We’re banged. We got worse banged up. That’s it. They totally dominated us.”
D.J. Dingle led White Knoll with 109 rushing yards and a touchdown, all in the second half. Afterwards, White Knoll head coach Nick Pelham greatly credited the play of his offensive line.
“Two years ago, playing offensive line was a dirty word here and now people take pride in it,” he said. “Kids love it. Kids love how they’re being coached. They love the toughness that we’re trying to ask them to play with. I’m just really proud of them.”
White Knoll heads on the road Friday to face Lancaster in their final non-region game.
WEEK 4 GRIDIRON GIANTS
Amadre Woodson (Batesburg-Leesville) – 151 yards, TD
Brady Albro (Chapin) – 300 passing yards, three TDs
Maddox Floyd (Chapin) – seven receptions, 66 yards, TD
Gavin Stan (Chapin) – 11 tackles
Parker Murray (River Bluff) – 164 passing yards, TD
Toriaun Leaphart (River Bluff) – 103 rushing yards, TD
Trace Nettles (River Bluff) – 100 rushing yards, TD
Stephen Collier (River Bluff) – 141 total yards, two TDs
Blaine Felder (River Bluff) – eight tackles
Evan Henderson (White Knoll) – five receptions, 95 yards, TD
The list of seniors who will play in this year’s Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas game on Dec. 16 was released this past Sunday on Facebook.
White Knoll teammates linebacker Jaiden Kimble and tight end Hasan Lee Jr. and Gilbert linebacker Caleb Strese were selected to the South Carolina team. The Sandlappers will be led by Calhoun County head coach Wayne Farmer and Gilbert’s Chad Leaphart is an assistant coach.
The game will take place at Viking Stadium on the campus of Spartanburg High School.
The rosters for the Touchstone Energy Cooperative North-South All-Star Game will be announced in the coming weeks. It will take place Dec. 9 at Doug Shaw Stadium in Myrtle Beach.
Week Five South Carolina Prep Football Media Poll
1. Summerville (23) (4-0)
2. Hillcrest (5-0)
3. Byrnes (4-1)
4. TL Hanna (4-1)
5. Gaffney (3-2)
6. Fort Dorchester (2-1)
7. Spartanburg (3-2)
8. Lexington (4-1)
9. White Knoll (5-0)
10. Sumter (3-2) Others receiving votes: Boiling Springs, Dutch Fork
Feature photo: White Knoll defensive lineman Demenico Banks (20), linebacker Jaiden Kimble and tight end Hasan Lee Jr.