By Thomas Grant Jr.
From a geographical and competitive standpoint, Lexington and Gilbert make for a natural rivalry.
Twelve miles separate the two schools, and the Wildcats and Indians enter Friday’s matchup ranked in their respective Top 10 polls with undefeated marks.
All it up together and the timing works out for both teams to assess themselves before opening region play in two weeks.
“These kids know each other, live near each other, have played against each other in middle school and little league,” Lexington head coach Dustin Curtis said. “This is small-town football at its best and no one has any better of a gameday atmosphere than Gilbert America. We have to be ready to compete in front of a large, passionate crowd, but that is what makes high school football fun.”
“No doubt there will be a lot of emotion in this week’s game from both sides,” Gilbert head coach Chad Leaphart said. “Our communities are side by side and all our guys know their guys and vice-versa.”
Since the series began in 2018, Lexington has won three of the four meetings. It enters this year’s game at 4-0 for the first time since 2011.
“Well, we haven’t played a complete game yet, so we know we still have a long way to go if we want to make a run in our very challenging region,” Curtis said. “These guys are growing and getting better. We just need to make sure we keep that mindset of growth and understanding that it’s not about where we are but about where we want to be.”
Gilbert is 3-0 following last week’s 55-9 rout of Pelion. Leaphart said his team has remained “levelheaded” during the winning streak.
“We had a tough preseason against some good opponents, and it has been all about getting better each week once the season started,” he said.
WEEK 3 GRIDIRON GIANTS
Drake Braddock (Gilbert) – 269 passing yards, two TDs
Jaylen Jay (Gilbert) – 103 rushing yards, 3 TDs
Krew Morris (Gilbert) – nine receptions, 101 yards, TD
Taiden Mines (Lexington) – 174 passing yards, two TDs
Brandon Cromer (Lexington) – four receptions, 97 yards, two TDs
Tyler Chavis (Lexington) – 43.5 yards per punt
Parker Murray (River Bluff) – 287 passing yards, three TDs
Stephen Collier (River Bluff) – seven receptions, 164 yards, TD
Alonzo Singleton (River Bluff) – 10 tackles
Brayden Williams (Saluda) – 137 rushing yards, TD
Landon Sharpe (White Knoll) – 263 passing yards, three TDs; 49 rushing yards
C.J. Earl (White Knoll) – five receptions, 130 yards, TD
S.C. Prep Football Media Poll
1. Summerville (17) (3-0)
2. Gaffney (3) (3-1)
3. Lexington (4-0)
4. Hillcrest (4-0)
5. Byrnes (3-1)
6. Sumter (3-1)
7. TL Hanna (3-1)
8. Spartanburg (2-2)
9. (tie) Fort Dorchester (1-1)
9. (tie) JL Mann (4-0)
Others receiving votes: White Knoll, Boiling Springs, Ashley Ridge, Dutch Fork, Rock Hill, Cane Bay
1. Daniel (10) (3-0)
2. Clinton (7) 4-0)
3. Dillon (1) 2-1
4. Belton Honea Path (2) (3-0)
5. Gilbert (3-0)
6. Crestwood (3-1)
7. Chester (3-1)
8. Chapman (3-1)
9. Broome (3-1)
10. Manning (4-0)
Others receiving votes: Camden, Philip Simmons, Brookland-Cayce, Powdersville, Loris, Crescent