By Thomas Grant Jr.
Region 4-5A play is starting at the right time for Chapin High School.
The Eagles (5-1) head to Wildcat Stadium Friday to face Lexington riding a dominant five-game winning streak.
“Outside of injures, we’ve got quite a few guys still out but we’re starting to get them back,” Chapin head coach Justin Gentry said. “This time last year, we were at 3-3 and right now, we’ve got a little momentum going into region play this year.”
Since the 48-3 season-opening loss to undefeated Irmo, they have outscored their opponents 188-59.
Chapin is also coming off a 22-7 victory over A.C. Flora in which it held the Falcons to a season-low in points. Quarterback Brady Albro had his third 300-plus yard passing game of the season, Khalen Bostick had 15 receptions for 177 yards and Tanner Short rushed for three touchdowns.
Defensively, Russell Gentry had seven tackles and Lamont Johnson had five tackles and two sacks. While the Eagles welcomed back senior defensive lineman Hayden Burriss, who missed the Brookland-Cayce game due to injury, Coach Gentry said it’s a “slew of guys” who’ve also helped improve the defense.
Among the players highlighted were linemen Johnson, whom Gentry calls “pound for pound, the strongest person in the program” and Xavier Williams who has played “lights out” this season. The linebacking corps with Short, leading tackler Gavin Stan and Brogdon Ambrose and safeties Gentry and Griffin Burns who also alternate at corner.
“Our defense, they’re blue-collar guys,” Gentry said. “They just get after it. They gang tackle. They fly around the ball. We’ve just got to be careful not to give up big plays. We’re suspect to that at times, but our guys the last couple of weeks have really done a good job.”
Lexington (4-1) is coming off a bye week following a 14-3 loss to Gilbert. The Wildcats were held to a season-low in points and total yards and gave up six sacks.
However, Gentry expects to see the Lexington team which started 4-0 and are sound in all three phases of the game.
“I think the Gilbert game was an anomaly,” Gentry said. “I think that was a big matchup between the two of them. Gilbert got the best of them that game, but they’re just a sound football team in all three phases of it.”
Despite the struggles, Gentry still has defending state champion Dutch Fork as the team to beat in the region. The Silver Foxes have won or shared the region title every year since head coach Tom Knotts’ arrival in 2010 and currently own a 28-game winning streak in region play.
A win over Lexington would keep Chapin in position to possibly end Dutch Fork’s run.
“Starting 1-0 is huge, that’s what I preached to the boys Friday night because right now everybody that we play is 0-0. Everything we’ve done up to now is getting us ready. So, we all have the same record at this point.”
South Carolina Prep Football Class 5A Poll
1. Summerville (22) (5-0)
2. Hillcrest (6-0)
3. Byrnes (1) (5-1)
4. Gaffney (4-2)
5. TL Hanna (5-1)
6. Spartanburg (4-2)
7. White Knoll (5-0)
8. Lexington (4-1)
9. Fort Dorchester (2-2)
10. Sumter (4-2)
Others receiving votes: Ashley Ridge, JL Mann, Clover, Chapin, River Bluff, Boiling Springs, Dutch Fork
(Photo by Ed Walker) Chapin quarterback Brady Albro and offensive lineman Nathan Gilley