There’s no Switzerland in Duncan, S.C. tonight. That is, there’s no neutral territory when Spartanburg, the defending 4A-I state champion and No. 16 team in the Super 25 rankings, travels to Duncan to play Byrnes, which is ranked No. 2 in the state. The game was originally scheduled for Friday but was moved up because of heavy storms forecasted for Friday.
Spartanburg sports information director Zach Johnson said he probably won’t spend a lot of time climbing the steps to the press box at Byrnes on Friday. Too many friends and family will be in the stands wearing the royal blue and red of Byrnes. Until this year, Johnson was on Byrnes’ sideline.
“I’ve heard about this game at church, at family dinners on Sundays, even from my wife. She told me there’s no way she’s pulling for Spartanburg High,” Johnson said. “We were high school sweethearts at Byrnes.”
The connections between the two schools are too numerous to count. Most of the coaching staff at Spartanburg, including head coach Chris Miller, were at Byrnes three years ago. The Vikings’ quarterback, Austin Scott, was the Rebels’ backup quarterback as a sophomore, before his dad, Rick Scott, became the offensive coordinator for Spartanburg. Miller, who led Spartanburg to its first state title last season, won four state titles in six years as Byrnes’ head coach from 2007 to 2012.
“This game always is weird,” Miller said. “It’s hard because you worked at both places. You go back and see a lot of people. It’s also exciting to be able to bring this program there and try to do the things that we did at Byrnes. It’s fun because its two good teams from South Carolina. It brings a lot of attention to our state.”
Byrnes has won 14 consecutive times against Spartanburg, including a wild 45-41 win last season, the last loss for the Vikings. Late in the game, with many of his friends across the sidelines, Johnson said he had to catch himself not to root for Spartanburg in its attempted comeback.
Both teams come in at 5-0. Spartanburg has dominated its opponents, outscoring them by an average of 45.8 to 12.4. Byrnes needed a comeback to defeat Boiling Springs 28-23 last week, but the Rebels have the more impressive victory, a 31-29 defeat of defending North Carolina 4A champion Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.).
Both teams run similar offenses and will likely throw in a few wrinkles to erase some of the familiarity between the teams.
“I am expecting them to do something different,” Miller said. “I’m sure we’re doing different things also. But they’re still the same explosive team they’ve been and they’re really aggressive on defense.”
Austin Scott has thrown for 22 touchdowns and 1,844 yards. His top receiver has been Tavaris Scott, who has 697 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches. Tavien Feaster is another big weapon with four rushing touchdowns and six touchdown catches.
Byrnes quarterback Micah Young is also capable of airing it out, but last week, Steadman Rogers and Quez Mayes showed the Rebels can also run when needed.