Braylon Ryan doesn’t feel like an underdog heading into a Week 1 trip to Gaffney.
Greenwood’s senior defensive end seemed puzzled at the mention of the Eagles as an underdog. As the leader of a defense that scored two touchdowns last week, Ryan is rightfully confident in his team’s chances.
“I look at it like it’s an even matchup. I think it’s going to be dog on dog,” Ryan said. “That’s how we look at it. We’re not scared of their name, none of that. I feel like we have a good chance tomorrow.”
Gaffney, the second-ranked team in the state, will host the Eagles 7:30 p.m. tonight at Gaffney High. Greenwood entered the latest prep football media poll ranked 10th.
Greenwood coach Dan Pippin ended the week of practice by reminding his team what happened last time the Eagles faced the No. 2 team in the state.
In 2017, Greenwood avenged a regular-season blowout loss to T.L. Hanna by shocking the Yellow Jackets with a 28-21 playoff win. That win has gone down as one of the most memorable in Greenwood’s history.
“We bring it up when we’re an underdog, and (this week) we’re definitely an underdog,” Pippin said. “We’re playing the No. 2 team in the state, and they’re really good.”
Gaffney leads the all-time series against Greenwood 13-10.
The Indians defeated the Eagles 28-7 to open last season, before finishing 11-2 and making the third round of the playoffs.
Greenwood scored touchdowns on defense and defensive special teams in a Week 0 win against South Aiken. The season opener gives Ryan confidence that the Eagles can lean on the defense.
“I feel good about our defense,” Ryan said. “I feel like our defense can help us win a lot of games. If we can shut them out, we can win. If nobody scores, all we need is a field goal. I think we can try and put a goose egg on all of them, pretty much.”
Pippin highlighted Gaffney’s defense as the team’s strength. The Indians didn’t play in Week 0, so they’ll open the season tonight.
Gaffney’s top threat on offense is wide receiver Stan Ellis, a senior who has offers from Duke, Colorado State and Appalachian State. Ellis is ranked the No. 11 prospect in the state by 247Sports. At linebacker, senior Jemari Littlejohn is the No. 15 recruit in the state, with offers from Tennessee, Colorado State, Appalachian State and Georgia State.
Greenwood’s offense struggled last week, but Pippin said the passing game needs time to improve. He said he wants to see better execution, but will stay with the current look on offense.
As the Eagles try to punch up at a highly ranked team, Pippin said these games are necessary for the team’s growth.
“It’s important — for us that played and coach — it’s important every time you get to compete,” Pippin said, “you compete against a team ranked higher than you are. It’s important to us to be able to do that.”