Aiken football shines during rough week

Aiken was the lone winner on a shockingly difficult opening night for area teams, which went 1-5.

Class AA Strom Thurmond and Barnwell both fell on the road in winnable games; Curtis Baptist lost to a first-year program. Strom Thurmond lost by a touchdown at Chapin, a team it dusted 24-0 to open last season. To be fair, Chapin has a new coach -- Scott Earley, from reigning state champion Myrtle Beach -- and should be plenty improved. Strom Thurmond plays at North Augusta on Sept. 11, the next chance to get a read on the Rebels.

Aiken, meanwhile, looks on its way to at least another 3-0 nonregion start. The Hornets started 4-0 last season, concluding nonregion play with a win at Boiling Springs. The Class AAAA Bulldogs visit Aiken on Sept. 18.

CLOSE CALLS: Greenbrier and Evans resume their Columbia County rivalry Friday. You get the feeling things might have gone differently for both teams last season if the result hadn't been 7-0 Evans. The Knights picked up nine more wins, but that victory was their closest game of the season.

Greenbrier lost seven of its next nine, including another seven-point loss, to Lakeside.

JAGS HERE: Thomas Jefferson Academy makes a rare swing through Richmond County this week when it travels to play Curtis Baptist in a nonregion game. The Jaguars have played in the last four GISA state title games and remain the area's benchmark in the private-school ranks.

BIG GAMES THIS WEEK

7:30 p.m. Friday

Region 3-AA

Laney at Jefferson County: One of last season's most entertaining games happened before September. The Warriors, who won 23-21, will be looking for their third consecutive win over Laney.

Region 3-AAAA

Westside at Richmond Academy: They might not come out and say it, but the folks at Richmond Academy are worried a loss could halt the significant progress they made last year. Westside ran all over the Musketeers in the first half last season before fading in a 26-18 loss.

South Carolina

Aiken at South Aiken: Not sure what the Thoroughbreds will offer in terms of resistance, but a large crowd will be watching this one. Aiken's rushing attack steamrolled Berkmar (Ga.) in a season-opening win.

North Augusta at Midland Valley: This is always a tough spot for the Mustangs, and nothing suggests that will change. North Augusta put up 41 points a year ago and will be facing an inexperienced secondary.

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

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