North Augusta has come out of the gate with a 3-0 mark, but the Yellow Jackets' toughest test yet may be tonight when they travel to play Marlboro County.
The defending Class AAAA Division II champions started 2-1, knocking off Crestwood 27-12 last week after losing to Sumter the week before.
But the Jackets could pose more trouble for the Bulldogs, with one of the state's most potent one-two punches in quarterback Anthony Young and running back Jamaal Johnson.
Johnson accounted for more than 300 yards of total offense in North Augusta's 28-21 win over Butler last week. The 6-foot, 180-pounder rushed for 243 yards and two touchdown runs (20 and 35 yards) on 27 carries.
Young came back from a slow start to finish 10-for-19 passing for 204 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Howell. Young's 1-yard quarterback sneak score late in the fourth quarter was the game-winning touchdown.
"I feel fortunate to have won that game because Butler looked really good to me," Jackets coach Joe Long said. "We're off to a great start, probably the best in a long time for us. If we can go up and beat the defending champs, we'll show people we're for real."
Blackville-Hilda and Silver Bluff lost many starters to graduation, but the two look primed to compete yet again for region titles.
The Hawks (3-0) begin their quest tonight, playing host to rival Williston-Elko (2-1) at 7:30 p.m. Blackville, a Region 4-A school, has knocked off Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Barnwell and Allendale-Fairfax, all Region 6-AA members. The Blue Devils loss to the War Horses, but beat the Red Raiders 21-7 last Friday.
The Hawks will be without starting quarterback Raphael Isaac, who is out for six to eight weeks, with torn cartilage in his knee. Senior Tommy George has stepped in for Isaac.
One unbeaten Region 6-AA team is Silver Bluff, which is coming off a 23-21 win over Class AAA power Fairfield Central on Friday. The Bulldogs (3-0) welcome longtime playoff rival Swansea tonight at 8 p.m.
"We kind of grew up in the second half of that game," Bulldog coach Al Lown said of the Fairfield Central contest. "We always thought we could win, and that was the key. We showed ourselves what we can do, and now the kids know that we'll be all right."
Barnwell fans are suffering through an unfamiliar time, watching their team start the season struggled to a 1-2 start. The War Horses fell to Blackville-Hilda 23-10 in week two, and lost 31-30 to Hanahan last week.
And McCormick, which played for the Class A state title in 1997, has stumbled out of the blocks, falling to 0-3 after a 49-0 drubbing by Lincoln County last week, a 49-3 defeat to Ninety-Six the week before, and a 42-7 loss to Saluda to open the year.
Strom Thurmond (1-2) quarterback Antwuan Hillary passed for 115 yards and added 95 more on the ground to lead the Rebels to their first victory of the season, a 19-7 win over Saluda last Friday.
Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.
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