Marquee matchups with playoff implications highlight Midlands football schedule

·3 min read

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

Friday

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

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