Local teams getting ready for football

By Thomas Grant Jr.

With preseason camps opening, there’s plenty of excitement for football in the Irmo area.

Once again leading the way is Dutch Fork High School. The Silver Foxes regained their place atop Class 5A by regaining the state title it lost 12 months earlier.

Despite a heavy loss of seniors, including Clemson running back Jarvis Green, safeties Landon Danley and Chandler Perry and quarterback Alian Appler, Dutch Fork is once again considered among the top teams in 2023.

“We had a lot of juniors that sat on the bench last year that are seniors now and are ready to play,” head coach Tom Knotts said. “But they’re going to be a lot of sophomores who are going to be juniors next year. We’re going to count on them to step up. It’s kind of how it was last year.”

The preseason High School Football Association ranked Dutch Fork fourth in its preseason Top 100 public high school rankings. The Silver Foxes and Northwestern (82nd) are the lone Palmetto State teams in the rankings.

Dutch Fork will face two Top 10 teams in the first month of the season. It travels to Norman Park, Georgia to face seventh-ranked Colquitt County on August 19. They then play host to Hough (North Carolina) on September 1. The two teams faced each other last year in Charlotte with Dutch Fork winning 27-24.

The Dutch Fork Football Touchdown Club will hold a Meet the Foxes Family Fun Night at the stadium this Friday from 6 – 7:30 pm Fans can meet the players and coaches and take part in games.

Irmo Yellow Jackets
Right now there’s a strong buzz emanating from W.C. Hawkins Stadium.

The Irmo football team has shown gradual improvement each year under head coach Aaron Brand. With several key starters returning, led by quarterback A.J. Brand, and the arrival of Gilbert transfer running back Jaden Allen-Hendrix, the Yellow Jackets are ready to hit the “gas” on a strong season.

“The vibe’s a little bit different,” Coach Brand said. “The expectations have changed tremendously. We’re going into this thing as one of the favorites we feel and it’s always us feeling that way. But I think there’s been some outside shutterbug about us having a chance to be pretty good too. So, there’s pressure.”

The Yellow Jackets compete in Region 5-4A which appears to have gotten stronger with a motivated Ridge View, defending region champion A.C. Flora and an improved Richland Northeast. Their non-region schedule is also challenging with matchups with Lexington County teams Chapin and River Bluff and Hartsville.