Five storylines to watch this season in Midlands high school football

Five storylines to watch this season in Midlands high school football
Tom Knotts and the Dutch Fork Silver Foxes look to capture their fourth consecutive state title in Class 5-A. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - High school football is finally here and there are quite a few storylines in the Midlands to keep an eye on.

Whether you’re an avid fan of the game or just a parent supporting their child, there are a few questions heading into the season that need answers. Here are my top five:

Watch The Throne

For the last few years, the more things change around high school football in South Carolina, the more they’ve managed to stay the same. Year in and year out, Dutch Fork and Hammond have ruled their respective classes with an iron fist.

Since the creation of Class 5-A, the Silver Foxes have been the only champion the division has ever known. This year, they could be the favorites to win it again. Under the leadership of head coach Tom Knotts, Dutch Fork has won 41 of their last 42 games and currently own a 25-game winning streak. They’ll put that streak on the line in their first contest of the year when they host Mallard Creek in Week Zero. The two teams were set to play last season in Charlotte, but the contest was canceled due to inclement weather.

As for Hammond, the Skyhawks have won four of the last five Class 3-A titles in SCISA. In fact, Erik Kimrey’s squad also owns a 25-game winning streak. Hammond hasn’t lost a game since their state championship setback against Ben Lippen back in 2016. Still, if you ask Kimrey, he’ll likely tell you that last year was last year and this year’s team still has a lot to prove. The Skyhawks open play against Southern Columbia (PA) in a Week Zero showdown that’ll take place at Hammond on Sunday at 2 p.m. That game will be televised on ESPN2.

Where Will They Go?

Some of the top names in the state have already made their commitments to some of the top Division I programs in the country. Hammond’s Alex Huntley, Calhoun County’s Tyshawn Wannamaker, and Sumter’s O’Donnell Fortune each have Carolina on his mind while Jalin Hyatt has committed to Tennessee.

However, there are a few names that haven’t officially made their commitments. Names like Nick Taiste, Ta’Chawn Brooks, and Parker Clements all have yet to make decisions on where they’ll take their talents once they graduate. Plus, there are still opportunities for players to make big splashes ahead of the early signing period. So, the recruiting trail could get interesting as the year progresses.

New Faces in New Places

Every year, the coaching carousel takes a spin putting coaches in new spots.

This year, we’ve seen quite a few new faces taking over programs. Dustin Curtis returns to A.C. Flora taking over for Collin Drafts. Aaron Brand will start his first year at Irmo in place of Reggie Kennedy, who is now coaching in Manning. RNE now has William Richardson at the helm. Many of these new faces along with others not mentioned are looking to right the ship for their respective programs and make a run at a state title.

Bye Bye Bone

Over the last eight years, Spring Valley has implemented a Flexbone offense that saw few passes and several attacks utilizing their run game. This year, that all changes. With former Blythewood head coach Dan Morgan on the Vikings’ coaching staff, Spring Valley’s receivers will get a chance to see more opportunities in the passing game.

It’s a completely different look from what the Vikings normally trot out on Friday nights. It could even be a new challenge for the players in terms of executing the plays they’ve been learning for a few months. With a new identity on offense, can Spring Valley take the next step and make a run at a state title?

Rain, Hurricane, Go Away

Since 2015, weather has wreaked havoc on the high school football schedule.

Teams have been forced to take a week or two off due to the threat of hurricanes over the last three years and the historic floods in 2015.

For some teams, it meant stopping the momentum they built up. For others, it proved to be a critical turning point.

While we may not be able to stop Mother Nature from putting a brief stop to high school football, we sure can hope.

Be sure to catch all the highlights this and every Friday night on Jim Hudson Football Friday on WIS News 10!

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