If Greenwood is to achieve the biggest upset in the state Friday night against No. 2 Dorman, junior running back Jyrea Martin could be a big reason why.
Even well before the game has started, Greenwood coach Dan Pippin thinks Martin’s return to the lineup this week has instilled confidence in him and the rest of the team.
Martin, who starred in back-to-back wins earlier in the season, was sidelined as quickly as he burst into the Greenwood starting lineup. He spent the past three weeks out with an injury.
“That Jy Martin came back, that says a lot about Jy Martin,” Pippin said. “But the fact that Jy Martin came back for this game because he wants to win so bad says a lot about the kid and the trust and faith that he has in the program. That’s pretty humbling for a head coach.”
Dorman (10-0, 7-0 Region 2-5A) enters matchup at No. 2 in the state. Greenwood (6-4, 4-3 Region 1-5A) missed out on an opportunity to move up the region standings late in the regular season and must face a Dorman team that has ended the Eagles’ season each of the past two years.
Pippin wrapped up his team talk at Thursday’s practice by reminding his team that Dorman may tend to look past Greenwood in this first round as the Cavaliers aim for a state championship. It should motivate his team’s players, Pippin said.
“I would think that the odds have been against us with the injuries that have happened,” Pippin said. “The kids have stepped up and fought adversity all year. I’m sure Dorman’s preparing to play Westside or Spring Valley and probably not worrying about Greenwood. I think that’s happened a couple of times to us, where teams have looked by you.”
Martin’s injury is a case in point to Greenwood’s rash of injuries this season.
The Eagles were sapped for depth in the last two crucial games in the regular season. The team has operated with sophomores Chris Simmons and Carlos Norman at running back all season, while Martin has played linebacker and running back. Norman and Simmons were expected to play on the junior varsity team at the beginning of the season, but were called into action after injuries to top-choice running backs Markevious Sprowl and Tamaje Aiken.
Dorman is led by quarterback Hayden Lee, who averages 155.2 passing yards per game and has passed for 1,552 yards this season. Running back Chance Black averages 6.9 yards per carry. Defensive back Noah Alberry is a North/South selection.
Dorman’s offense averages 44.9 points per game and the defense has held opponents to just 8.9 points per game.
The Cavaliers have finished the regular season undefeated for the third time in school history. Coach Dave Gutshall is 20-6 in the first round of the playoffs. Greenwood has not beaten Dorman in the playoffs since 1984.
Greenwood at Dorman is a David-and-Goliath meeting in Class 5A Upstate football, and one that highlights one of many contentious issues the South Carolina High School League is set to address in the upcoming 2020-22 realignment.
Greenwood, the smallest Class 5A team at a 2018 enrollment of 1,583 students has lost in the playoffs by at least three touchdowns each of the past two seasons to Dorman. Dorman, with a 2018 enrollment of 3,344 students, is the second-largest school in the state.
Pippin said most Greenwood players are familiar with Dorman after the past two seasons’ playoff exits. After he retires at the end of the season, he hopes Greenwood will no longer have to face schools more than twice its size.
“Last year, a lot of these guys were playing in this game because they were all sophomores playing,” Pippin said. “A lot of these guys are going to be playing in the playoffs next year, hopefully not against a team that’s got 2,000 more kids than they do.”