This week’s Midlands high school football top games, full schedule and predictions

Dwayne McLemore/dmclemore@thestate.com

The high school football season is in its seventh week in South Carolina, and here are some of the top matchups in the Midlands as well as the weekly power rankings.

Most games in the area were moved to Thursday because of weather concerns from Hurricane Ian.

Top Midlands games this week

Thursday

AC Flora (5-0) at Westwood (1-4), 7 p.m.: Region 5-4A opener for both teams. AC Flora won last year’s matchup, 34-14. AC Flora running back Markel Townsend has rushed for more than 200 yards in two of his last three games and leads the team with 757 yards and 11 TDs. Falcons QB Carew Bates is completing 72.2% of his passes and has 13 TD passes. Westwood quarterback Dylan O’Neal is completing 65% of his passes for 870 yards and eight touchdowns. Noah Jennings leads the Redhawks with 33 catches for 606 yards and eight TDs. Bezjak’s prediction: AC Flora

Gilbert (3-2) at Lower Richland (1-4), 7 p.m.: Region 5-3A opener for both teams. Gilbert has lost two straight games after a 3-0 start. Alias Graham-Woodberry leads Gilbert with 773 yards rushing and Jaden Allen-Hendrix has a team-high 12 touchdowns. Kelvin Blackwell leads the Indians with 10 tackles for loss. Lower Richland is coming off an open week. Mekhi Campfield leads Diamond Hornets with 27 catches for 436 yards and four TDs. LR receiver Nate Branch is committed to East Carolina. He has 15 catches for 286 yards. Demonti Garrett leads LR with four sacks. Bezjak’s prediction: Gilbert

Lexington (5-1) at Chapin (3-3), 7 p.m.: Region 4-5A opener for both teams. Lexington has won three of the last four in the series, including 23-17 last season. Lexington had an open week last weekend and is No. 7 in Class 5A polls. Lexington running back Jonah Norris needs four yards for 1,000 on the season. He picked up a preferred walk-on offer from South Carolina over the weekend. QB Taiden Mines has 1,003 yards passing and 13 TDs. Kmadi Maxwell leads the Wildcats with six TD catches. Lexington is averaging 437 yards of offense per game. Chapin has lost two games in a row after a 3-1 start. Chapin quarterback Brady Albro has thrown for 1,279 yards and 13 TDs. Seven different Chapin players have caught TD passes. Bezjak’s prediction: Lexington

Lugoff-Elgin (3-2) at Ridge View (4-1), 7:30 p.m.: Region 5-4A opener for both teams. First meeting between two teams since 2015 when Ridge View won, 56-21. Both teams are coming off a bye. Ridge View is ranked No. 7 in Class 4A. Ridge View quarterback Donald Tomlin has thrown for 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns. Zon Agnew leads the Blazers with 29 catches for 595 yards and four touchdowns. Marcus Kelly leads the Blazers with 427 yards rushing and six scores. Ridge View defense has 12 sacks this season. Lugoff-Elgin has won three straight games for the first time since 2010. Senior tailback Sky Harter leads the team with 753 yards and eight touchdowns. KD Outten leads the Demons with 55 tackles. Bezjak’s prediction: Ridge View

River Bluff (5-1) at White Knoll (6-0), 7 p.m.: Region 4-5A opener for both teams. Game is WACH Fox Friday Night Rivals Game of Week. White Knoll is off to the best start in school history and moved up to No. 4 in the latest SC High School football poll. White Knoll won last year’s meeting, 28-21, to earn a spot in the playoffs while knocking the Gators from postseason contention. White Knoll QB Landon Sharpie has thrown for 923 yards and 15 TDs. Jesse Ross has 10 rushing touchdowns and Austin Cunningham has 7 TD receptions. White Knoll defense is giving up just 12.7 points a game. River Bluff running back Cooper Johns needs 130 yards for 1,000 on season. He has 13 rushing TDs. River Bluff quarterback Parker Murray had a season-high 229 yards passing last week in a loss to Dorman. River Bluff is averaging 40.5 points a game. Bezjak’s prediction: River Bluff

This week’s Schedule, Picks

Game times are listed with Lou Bezjak’s prediction in parenthesis

Wednesday

Cardinal Newman at John Paul II, 6:30 p.m. (Prediction: Cardinal Newman)

Brookland-Cayce at Orangeburg-Wilkinson, 7 p.m. (Brookland-Cayce)

Eau Claire at Newberry, 7:30 p.m. (Newberry)

Lakewood at Camden, 7:30 p.m. (Camden)

Thursday

Laurence Manning at Heathwood Hall, 4 p.m. (Heathwood Hall)

Augusta Christian at Hammond, 45 minutes after the 5 p.m. JV game ends (Hammond)

Gray Collegiate at Columbia, 6:30 p.m. (Gray Collegiate)

Aiken at Airport, 7 p.m. (Airport)

Batesburg-Leesville at Strom Thurmond, 7 p.m. (Strom Thurmond)

Fairfield Central at Mid-Carolina, 7 p.m. (Fairfield Central)

New Hope Leadership at Ben Lippen, 7 p.m. (Ben Lippen)

WW King at Newberry Academy, 7 p.m. (WW King)

Pelion at Saluda, 7 p.m. (Saluda)

CA Johnson at Lewisville, 7:30 p.m. (Lewisville)

Chesterfield at North Central, 7:30 p.m. (Chesterfield)

Fort Mill at Blythewood, 7:30 p.m. (Blythewood)

Irmo at Richland Northeast, 7:30 p.m. (Irmo)

Rock Hill at Spring Valley, 7:30 p.m. (Spring Valley)

Swansea at Dreher, 7:30 p.m. (Swansea)

Last Week: 17-3

Season Record: 109-35

The State’s Power Rankings

A look at The State’s Top 10 for Columbia-area schools after Week 6:

1. Dutch Fork

Record: 5-1

Last Week: Lost to St. Frances (Md.), 26-7

2. AC Flora

Record: 5-0

Last Week: Defeated Chapin, 48-17

3. Lexington

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Off

4. Ridge View

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Off

5. White Knoll

Record: 6-0

Last Week: Defeated Lancaster, 48-7

6. River Bluff

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Lost to Dorman, 29-23

7. Irmo

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Defeated Airport, 37-0

8. Saluda

Record: 5-0

Last Week: Defeated Gilbert, 33-21

9. Gray Collegiate

Record: 3-3

Last Week: Defeated Eau Claire, 57-0

10. Gilbert

Record: 3-2

Last Week: Lost to Saluda, 33-21

Dropped out: None

Others considered: Camden, Blythewood, Hammond, Fairfield Central