High School Football

Midlands surprise teams, breakout players halfway through 2022 football season

Another high school football season in the Palmetto State is halfway complete.

Here are sixMidlands teams that have exceeded expectations through the first five weeks, as well as local breakout players who didn’t get much attention during the preseason who are making a big difference for their teams:

Surprising football teams

White Knoll (5-0): The Timberwolves made the playoffs in Nick Pelham’s first season last year but won only two games. White Knoll in 2022 is off to its best start since winning six games in 2019. Quarterback Landon Sharpe and running back Jesse Ross are a good 1-2 punch on offense for the Timberwolves. White Knoll has allowed no more than 14 points in four of the five games. Things will get tougher in region play with matchups against Dutch Fork, River Bluff, Lexington and Chapin.

River Bluff (5-0): You knew the Gators would bounce back after a two-win season last year, and they have. River Bluff has scored 35 or more points in every game this season, and Cooper Johns has emerged as one of the area’s top running backs with 779 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Lugoff-Elgin (3-2): The Demons have bounced back from an 0-2 start and have won three straight games for the first time since 2010. Senior tailback Sky Harter leads the team with 753 yards and eight touchdowns, and has been one of the surprise players locally this year. Things will get tougher beginning next week when Region 4-4A play begins, with games to come against A.C. Flora, Ridge View and Irmo.

Ben Lippen (3-2) and Cardinal Newman (2-2): Both teams have surpassed last year’s win totals with new head coaches.

Ben Lippen started the season at 3-0, then dropped the next two games by a touchdown or less. Still, the Falcons won just two games last season and have a new coach in Bennett Weigle.

Former USC Gamecock Cory Helms has the Cardinals scoring and winning more than it did the last two seasons. Cardinal Newman won just one game total the previous two years. The Cards are averaging 43 points a game with a dynamic running back in AJ Reyes (657 yards, 13 TDs) and QB Duncan Skehan (841 yards, 8 TDs).

Northside Christian (4-1): The Crusaders won just one game in their last year of 11-man football but have surpassed that this year under former A.C. Flora and White Knoll coach Dean Howell.

220916_LexGil_009.jpgLexington Wildcats Jonah Norris (21) rushes past Gilbert Indians CJ Browning (6) during their game at Lexington High School Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

Breakout performers

« Jonah Norris, RB, Lexington: The senior has bounced back from a season-ending broken wrist injury last season and leads the area in rushing with 996 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has rushed for 300 yards or more in a game twice this season.

« Cameron McMillon, QB, Fairfield Central; and Patrick Belk, QB, Heathwood Hall: It’s not often that a freshman comes in and starts at quarterback on the varsity level, but both have done just that.

McMillon leads the Midlands in passing with 1,409 yards and 17 touchdowns in five games. He is completing 66% of his passes and averaging 16.2 yards per completion.

Belk is 61-of-112 passing for 808 yards and four touchdowns, and also has rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

« Edward Robinson, DL, Blythewood: Junior leads the Bengals with 54 tackles and is tops in the area with 12 sacks. He had a season-high four sacks against Westwood.

« Jaylen Hinton, LB, and John Buetow, DE, Dutch Fork: The two seniors have already surpassed their season totals from last season and are part of a strong Silver Foxes defense. Hinton leads the Silver Foxes with 54 tackles to go with two sacks and two forced fumbles. Buetow leads the team with eight sacks in five games after having five last year. He also has 35 tackles and three QB hurries.

September 20, 2022 | State, The: Web Edition Articles (Columbia, SC)
Author/Byline: Lou Bezjak, The State | Section: high_school

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