The last few weeks haven’t featured many high-profile high school football matchups in the Midlands. That won’t be the case this week.
There are four games in which both teams are ranked in this week’s S.C. High School Football Media poll — A.C. Flora vs. Irmo; Gilbert vs. Brookland-Cayce; Northwestern vs. Spring Valley; and Saluda vs. Gray Collegiate. There are region title implications in each of the matchups.
▪ A.C. Flora at Irmo: Teams are tied for Region 4-4A lead with 2-0 conference marks. Each team has two more games after Friday. A.C. Flora has a 16-game winning streak dating back to last season. Markel Townsend leads Flora with 787 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Irmo has a strong passing game with quarterback Izayah Whiteside and DeAree Rogers. Whiteside has thrown for 1,398 yards and 15 TDs. Rogers is the team’s top receiver with 35 catches for 772 yards. Malik Heyward leads ACF with six interceptions. Flora won last year’s matchup 45-14.
— Bezjak’s prediction: AC Flora
▪ Gilbert at Brookland-Cayce: Gilbert is tied with Strom Thurmond for the Region 5-3A lead at 2-0. B-C is coming off a loss to Strom Thurmond last week. Gilbert running backs Alias Graham-Woodberry and Jaden Allen-Hendrix have each rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games. Gilbert won last year’s matchup 56-42.
— Bezjak’s prediction: Gilbert
▪ Northwestern at Spring Valley: Winner of the game wins the Region 4-5A championship and is assured of at least two home playoff games. Spring Valley quarterback DQ Smith has accounted for 16 total touchdowns and needs 147 passing yards for 1,000 on the season. Mondell Hutto leads SV with 67 tackles and 10 sacks. Northwestern QB Will Mattison needs 89 yards for 2,000 passing yards on the season. Mattison also has 26 TD passes. Trojans receiver Elijah Caldwell has 47 catches for 826 yards and nine touchdowns. Northwestern won last year’s matchup 26-7.
— Bezjak’s prediction: Spring Valley
▪ Saluda at Gray Collegiate: Game held at Midlands Sports Complex. Winner takes over Region 3-2A lead. Gray running back KZ Adams has rushed for 1,416 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. Zach Glenn leads Gray Collegiate with 85 tackles and two interceptions. The Saluda offense is averaging 40.5 points per game. Saluda QB Jonah McCary has completed 72% of his passes for 977 yards and 12 TDs. Montrevious Baker leads the Tigers with 11 rushing touchdowns. Gray Collegiate won last year’s matchup 34-24.
— Bezjak’s prediction: Gray Collegiate
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE, PICKS
All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Airport at Aiken
Bezjak’s prediction: Airport
Blythewood at Rock Hill
Bezjak’s prediction: Rock Hill
CA Johnson at Lamar
Bezjak’s prediction: Lamar
Chapin at White Knoll
Bezjak’s prediction: Chapin
Columbia at Batesburg-Leesville
Bezjak’s prediction: Batesburg-Leesville
Hammond at Augusta Christian
Bezjak’s prediction: Hammond
Heathwood Hall at Trinity Collegiate
Bezjak’s prediction: Trinity Collegiate
Keenan at Lower Richland
Bezjak’s prediction: Lower Richland
Laurens Academy at WW King
Bezjak’s prediction: WW King
Mid-Carolina at Fairfield Central
Bezjak’s prediction: Fairfield Central
Newberry at Eau Claire
Bezjak’s prediction: Newberry
Porter-Gaud at Cardinal Newman
Bezjak’s prediction: Porter-Gaud
Richard Winn at Newberry Academy
Bezjak’s prediction: Richard Winn
Richland Northeast at Lugoff-Elgin
Bezjak’s prediction: Richland Northeast
River Bluff at Dutch Fork
Bezjak’s prediction: Dutch Fork
Swansea at Fox Creek
Bezjak’s prediction: Fox Creek
Westwood at Dreher
Bezjak’s prediction: Westwood
Last Week: 20-4
Season Totals: 142-38