by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP
BLYTHEWOOD, SC -- After a long and uncertain offseason, South Carolina High School League football finally got started this week. ESP was in Blythewood on Friday night to watch the AC Flora Falcons take on the Westwood Redhawks. Here are a few takeaways from the Falcons 44-6 victory....
AC Flora lost former QB Wise Segars to transfer this offseason (Daniel) but brought in a transfer of their own in Ethan Beamish (Hillcrest). Beamish looked confident and made some great throws throughout the night. Even going up against one of the better secondaries in the state, Beamish looked determined and played that way as well. He should keep the Falcons offense humming week to week.
Both teams strongest position groups are as advertised. AC Flora's defensive line is legit. They consistently pushed into the backfield, causing havoc for the young Redhawks quarterback & running backs, creating multiple tackle-for-loss opportunities. For Westwood, while the score may not reflect it, their secondary played tough and are loaded with next-level talent. They got beat deep a couple times but with the offense not getting much going, I assume some of that was due to being a little fatigued from being on the field so much.
As far as the Redhawks' offense goes, it could be a long year. They don't have a lot of options at quarterback on the roster. Junior transfer out of Richland Northeast, Elijah Burgess, played most of the snaps at QB Friday night but didn't find much success. He was asked to essentially just get the ball out quickly if he wasn't handing it off. Many throws were behind receivers or over/under thrown. Two of the three Redhawks interceptions on the night were returned for touchdowns as well. Much of the struggle in the passing game could be credited to the constant pressure from the AC Flora front seven; it's running struggles as well.
Both teams have a ton of talent at the skill positions. While Westwood wasn't able to really take advantage of theirs, when guys got their opportunities to touch the ball, they flashed some of their ability. Some names of note include Eriq Rice (WR - Flora), Noah Jennings (WR - Westwood), Banks Pope (TE - Flora), Matthew Pack Jr (RB - Flora), Nicolas Gilliam (RB - Westwood).
AC Flora could go on to win their region and make a run in the Class 4A playoffs. Maintaining the health of key players will be the biggest point of focus going forward. For Westwood, they need to keep a good mindset and continue to develop the younger guys and quarterback position. There is talent on both teams and one game, especially in this crazy year, is not fully indicative of what a team is or can be. I look forward to watching both these teams progression through the remainder of this football season.