By Thomas Grant Jr.
The tale of two seasons continues in the town of Irmo.
Undefeated Irmo High School gets a bye week to revel in its best start in six years. Across town, Dutch Fork High School looks to snap its worst start in 14 years.
The defending Class 5A champions (0-3) play host to Stratford (0-2) this Friday. Both teams are seeking their first win of the season and are coming off losses decided by field goals.
Dutch Fork fell 20-17 to Hough (Charlotte, N.C.) in what was its best offensive showing of the season. Quarterback Ethan Offing threw two touchdowns, both to Trenton Lodge, but the Huskies broke the 17-17 tie with a field goal in the third quarter.
The Silver Foxes were held scoreless in the fourth quarter for the second straight week.
Stratford held a 21-0 lead over another Region 4-5A team in Lexington. The Wildcats rallied to score 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and got a 26-yard field goal by Tyler Chavis as time expired for the 25-24 win.
Dutch Fork has won the last two meetings over Stratford and seeks to avoid its first 0-4 start under head coach Tom Knotts. Prior to this season, the Silver Foxes had posted a 91-3-1 record from 2016-2022.
“I am shocked and extremely disappointed,” said Knotts prior to last Friday’s loss. “We have to do a better job of coaching. We need to play with Dutch Fork pride, intensity, effort and attention to detail. We need to play good sound fundamental football, make our “layups”, and play with our usual confidence and effort. I still believe we will be there in the end – how we get there is going to be a tough road.”
Over at W.C. Hawkins Stadium, the Yellow Jackets played host to River Bluff in a battle of 2-0 teams.
The anticipated WACH Fox Sonic Friday Night Rivals Game of the Week quickly turned into a 42-0 rout by the host team.
Quarterback A.J. Brand threw four touchdowns and rushed for another for the Yellow Jackets. Wide receivers Donovan Murph and Caleb Alexander each caught two touchdowns and transfer running back Jaden Allen-Hendrix rushed for 204 yards.
“When I started making big runs, it started opening up AJ’s running game and see how Murph and Caleb made big plays for us and scored,” Allen-Hendrix said.
“Every time he gets the ball, I know something decent is going to happen,” Brand said. “He’s like a big brother to me and he just helps out the whole team a lot.”
Head coach Aaron Brand was especially pleased with his team’s defensive effort. It held junior quarterback Parker Murray to a season-low 23 yards and intercepted him three times.
The Gators had four turnovers, three of which were turned into touchdowns by the Yellow Jackets.
“I mean, obviously in this in this news scheme of football offense gets all the credit,” Irmo head coach Aaron Brand said. “Offense gets all the accolades. But when you can shut out a high-quality offense like River Bluff tonight, that’s just that’s just a testament of their preparation and those linebackers and that second day was awesome tonight and that (defensive) line got push when we needed to. It’s hard playing option. It’s hard playing option. So the attention to detail on the defensive side of the ball tonight was outstanding.”
“Offensively, it was an extremely poor performance,” River Bluff head coach C. Blair Hardin said. “We didn’t finish the first drive. A lot of three and outs. A lot of turnovers and (Irmo) came up with some big plays and just got our butt kicked. Very simple.”
Irmo returns to action Sept. 15 at Hartsville in a Class 4A Top 10 matchup. River Bluff plays host to South Aiken.
1. Summerville (17) (2-0)
2. Gaffney (2) (2-1)
3. Sumter (1) (3-0)
4. Lexington (3-0)
5. Hillcrest (3-0)
6. Spartanburg (2-1)
7. Byrnes (2-1)
8. Fort Dorchester (1-1)
9. TL Hanna (2-1)
10. JL Mann (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Boiling Springs, White Knoll, Ashley Ridge, Dutch Fork, Blythewood; Cane Bay
1. South Florence (17) (3-0)
2. Hartsville (1) (2-0)
3. Northwestern (1) (1-1)
4. South Pointe (1) (2-1)
5. James Island (3-0)
6. Irmo (3-0)
7. Greenwood (2-1)
8. West Florence (2-1)
9. AC Flora (1-1)
10. Midland Valley (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Greenville, Westside, Lucy Beckham, York, Ridge View