Plenty to talk about after a very interesting weekend in the world of football. From an uninspiring college football opener, to the shocking retirement from one of the NFL’s best Quarterbacks.
SC – High School
I want to start with some local high school action that took place on Friday. Plenty of good contests here in the Palmetto State. South Carolina ranked #1 (#22 nationally) Dutch Fork didn’t necessarily have the start they wanted with a 27-27 tie against Mallard Creek High School (NC). Byrnes absolutely rolled the Greer Yellowjackets 33-8 in their season opener. Fort Dorchester, Daniel, Summerville & Clover all got off to impressive starts. Those four teams won their games by an average of 30 points over their opponents.
My Devildogs put a hurting on Riverside Friday night with a resounding 41-7 victory. Travelers Rest Senior Quarterback Wilson Hendricks led the charge for the Devildogs offensively scoring five total touchdowns, two through the air and three more on the ground. Hendricks went 14-28 for 182 and rushed for 75 more yards on 10 carries. Senior Zeirean Riley was Hendricks’ favorite target on the night with 5 catches for 77 yards and both receiving touchdowns. The Devildog defense came up big in the game forcing a pair Riverside interceptions. A great way to start the year for Travelers Rest as they now look to next weeks game at Carolina Academy to take on the Trojans. It’s great to see Travelers Rest on the winning side of things for a change. My alma mater has had a tough decade or so on the gridiron, but I believe the program is finally starting to turn the corner. WE ARE TR!
In the other AAAA Region 2 games that took place, Eastside pulled away in the 3rd quarter against Southside and wound up with a 38-21 victory over the Tigers. Woodmont played a solid game on both sides of the ball as they took down Greenville High 35-14. And in the Battle of Highway 14, Blue Ridge took down Landrum 35-14. The Fighting Tigers look forward to their Week Two match-up against the 0-1 Chesnee Eagles.
And just down the road from my house in Easley, the Greenwave ran their way past rival Pickens totaling over 325 yards on the ground. Leading rusher Dylan Lyda (SR) had 14 carries for 200 yards and three touchdowns. An outstanding performance two-way player, who also had three tackles and an interception. during the game. Senior Josh Hill lead the Greenwave defense with 17 total tackles, 11 solo tackles, and an interception. In all, the Greenwave defense forced four Pickens turnovers. Easley would go on to win 31-14.
On to college now as the opening weekend to the college football season had a rather disappointing start. In the 3:00 ET contest, the Youngstown State Penguins traveled down to Montgomery, AL to take on SOCON opponent Samford. Coming into the game, I really felt that Samford would have a good game against a team that didn’t have a great 2018. I mean I picked them to win by 11 for goodness sake. However, when your starting QB throws three interceptions and loses a fumble, it’s pretty hard to win a football game. Junior QB Liam Welch will want to forget about this performance as he got pulled mid-way through this game. The Samford defense, which had some returning talent, couldn’t stop anyone as the Pengiuns rushed for close to 300 yards and three touchdowns. A 24-7 game at the half, would ultimately end with a 45-22 thrashing. Samford looks to rebound at Tennessee Tech this Saturday.
Saturday night’s premier match-up featured a rivalry being renewed with Florida and Miami facing off at a neutral site in Orlando. I came into the game with high hopes, I’d would even say high expectations, for the 2019 Gators. I thought what the team was able to do under first year coach Dan Mullen last year would be the catalyst for an outstanding 2019 season. And then… the game Saturday night happened. Florida’s offense was dreadful, to say the least. The Gators could not run the ball, totaling just 52 yards as a team. Coming into this year, I believed that QB Felipe Franks was starting to grow into a good, not great, but a good pass thrower. I judged wrong. Saturday night made me remember who Felipe Franks really is, a garbage college quarterback. He went 17-27 for 254 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble during the game. Even with his mediocre performance, the Gators defense held just long enough to give the Gators the 24-20 win. I picked the Gators winning (good for me), but I picked them winning in a blow out (I won’t make that same mistake). My big take away was Miami’s Redshirt Freshman quarterback Jarren Williams. I honestly didn’t think the kid would play well against a tough, physical Gators defense. I was wrong there too. The kid can play. Williams finished the game going 19-30 for 214 with one touchdown. That was after playing the first half with just TWO incompletions. Even though this is a tough loss for the Canes, they should be able to bounce back with a win next week as they travel to Chapel Hill. There are some definite bright spots for Miami who, even with the loss, still have a lot to play for this season. Florida disappointed, but they have time to fix some of the wrinkles as they get to head home to the Swamp to play FCS opponent Tennessee-Martin.
The biggest story in football this past weekend didn’t even have to do with a game that was being played. Saturday, Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck decided he was going to retire from football. He is 29. Luck, a four-time Pro-Bowler, was the 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year after having missed 2017 with a shoulder injury. That right there is the reason Luck is stepping away from football. In his six years in the NFL, Luck has been riddle with injury problems. Luck explained in his press conference on Saturday that, “This is not an easy decision. Honestly, it’s the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me. For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it’s been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football.” Luck’s career numbers sit at 3,290 yards passing, 171 passing touchdown and 87 interceptions. He was the Colts #1 pick in the 2012 draft out of Stanford. Luck’s departure leaves a huge hole at the quarterback position for the Colts. Three year NFL veteran Jacoby Brissett will take over as the starting QB. Behind him are Chad Kelly (Ole Miss) and rookie Philip Walker out of Temple. Brissett was the stater for the Colts in the 2017 season, the year Luck was out due to injury. Brissett threw for just over 3,000 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions with a 43.3 QBR. The Colts went 4-12 that season. If I am a Colts fan right now, I’m honestly crushed and have a bleak outlook now on the season. Luck meant everything to this organization, but I get it. Luck has to do what he thinks is best for him. There is not use risking doing very serious, permanent damage to his body at such a young age. #12 will be missed in Indianapolis and in the NFL. Who’s going to be as gracious and complimentary when they get hit by a defensive player as Luck was?