For the first 6 minutes of Friday's season-opening game against Lakeside, Westside looked dominant - like the team that should win Region 3-AAA. After that, their offense sputtered and died, particularly in the red zone.
Westside moved inside the Panthers' 20-yard line five times in the Patriots' 20-0 win. Total number of points: three.
Westside coach Gerald Barnes hardly seemed worried.
"We drove the ball a little, but we just couldn't get it down there and score," Barnes said after Friday's game. "When you have a lead, you don't want to take many chances. We didn't want to lay the ball on the ground."
After all, Westside had a first-hand view of what happens when you get sloppy with the football.The Panthers lost five fumbles in the rain, giving away any chance they had to pull off the upset.
"It's a whole lot tougher when it's raining," said Westside running back Aundra Ellison, who rushed for 115 yards but committed one of the fumbles. "It's wet, and the point where you put the ball (on the inside of the elbow) is a whole lot more slippery. Grip it as tight as you want, but if it's wet, it'll come right out."
Overall, the Panthers put the ball on the ground eight times. Westside lost only two fumbles.
STROM'S BAD DREAM: Coming into the season, North Augusta's defensive line was supposed to be one of its biggest strengths.
Don't tell that to Strom Thurmond coach Dusty Triplett.
The Yellow Jackets held the Rebels to just 137 yards, but what will make Triplett toss and turn in his sleep is North Augusta's offensive line.
"It was our worst nightmare," said Triplett, whose team fell 28-7 on Friday night. "In order to be quick, we have to give up size. They were just moving us back."
PIPPIN SWEATS IT OUT: South Aiken coach Dan Pippin was blunt after his team picked apart Midland Valley, 26-13.
"This has been the hardest year I've ever had preparation-wise," Pippin said of his third preseason with the Thoroughbreds. "I've never been so nervous before a game."
He shouldn't have worried.
With tailback Rashad Hunter, who carried the ball 40 times for 253 yards, and a monstrous offensive line, the Thoroughbreds should make the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
BLUFF NOT DONE YET: Silver Bluff lost for the first time this century Friday, falling to Newberry. That might not be the worst part for the Bulldogs.
Next week, they play host to Edisto, which was 11-2 last year. Then, they play Abbeville, a Class AA Upper State semifinalist last season.
Thirty-and-oh might quickly turn into 0-3.
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.
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