By Thomas Grant Jr.
Justin Gentry has coached in many memorable high school football games in his career.
Add last Friday’s 41-38 victory over River Bluff to that list. The two teams combined for 700 total yards, 79 points, seven lead changes and three ties before getting decided on a 49-yard field goal by Clark Cline.
“It was a great game played very hard by both teams,” Gentry said. “You couldn’t tell either team that it wasn’t for the region championship. Everything imaginable in a game happened and it was very exciting.”
What was at stake was the fourth playoff berth out of Region 4-5A. While River Bluff earned a trip to face undefeated, top-ranked and Region 7-5A champion Summerville, the Eagles (6-4) will face Region 6-5A champion Stratford (4-6).
“I think we match up well with them,” Gentry said. “They remind me a lot of the teams from our region. I expect it to be a close, hard-fought game. I have known Coach (Dennie) McDaniel for a long time, and they will be tough, strong, and well-coached.”
Quarterback Brady Albro has carried the Eagle offense with 2,505 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season.
Wide receiver Jacob Nerome has been a reliable target for Albro with 54 receptions for 609 yards and two touchdowns. Weldon Gunter, Khalen Bostick and Maddox Floyd have also become more involved in the passing attack.
On defense, linebacker Gavin Stam leads the team with 42 solo tackles and defensive end Xavier Williams had a team-high six sacks and had an interception return for a touchdown against River Bluff.
“Xavier Williams has been lights out for us this season, but our whole defense has played very well,” Gentry said.
The Knights have won three straight and four of their last six. They clinched their first region title since 2006 with a 38-35 win over Goose Creek.
Quarterback Jachin Davis accounted for all five touchdowns and finished with 217 total yards and running back Markell Holman rushed for 233 yards in the comeback win.
This is the first meeting between the two schools. The winner will face either Sumter or Conway in the second round.
Final S.C. Prep Football Media Class 5A Poll
1. Summerville (16) (10-0)
2. TL Hanna (9-1)
3. Byrnes (9-1)
4. White Knoll (10-0)
5. Clover (8-2)
6. JL Mann (8-2)
7. Gaffney (7-3)
8. Ashley Ridge (8-2)
9. Hillcrest (8-2)
10. Fort Dorchester (6-3)
Others receiving votes: Dutch Fork, Lexington, Sumter
Photo by Chapin Eagle Club