Cyclones headed out of state to face Eagles

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By Travis Jenkins

It won’t impact region standings and won’t have any affect on playoff standings, but the Chester Cyclones have a very important game tonight.

Chester will make a rare out-of-state trip to take on Columbia High of Georgia. The two programs have never played before but aren’t totally unfamiliar to one another as Columbia took part in the Chester County Football Jamboree in 2017, facing Lancaster. The Eagles come in with a record of 1-2. They opened with a loss to Stephenson, blew out Towers High 55-0, then lost to Cedar Grove High 45-0 last week. Cyclones Coach Victor Floyd said not too much should be read into that, though, since Cedar Grove is a national power that had a game aired on ESPN two weeks ago. Columbia was a 6-5 squad last year that made the AAAAA playoffs and Floyd said they bring a lot to the table.

“They are very athletic,” he said. “They have a four-star running back and kids all over the field that can run.”

Offensively, the Eagles are multiple, with Floyd saying they run everything from a Wing-T to the spread. They utilize several backs, including Khalon Manuel (who sports several college offers) and Daniel Davis, who brings excellent size to the position at 210 pounds. Columbia is big up front too, with most of the line weighing in at 280 or more. The team is just as predictable on defense as on offense, as they operate out of a 3-3, a 3-4 and a 4-2 depending on the situation.

Chester is coming off an impressive 36-14 victory over Rock Hill that Floyd called his squad’s most complete effort of the season so far. As they did against Aiken and Fort Mill, the Cyclones ran the ball extremely well (308 yards, including 114 by Emmanuel Wright) but also leaned more heavily on the passing of freshman quarterback Zan Dunham, who went to the air a season high 19 times.

“We knew we were going to have to throw to have some balance,” Floyd said.

The defense came up big as well, forcing a turnover on downs at the goal line and forcing the Bearcats to settle for a field goal (which they missed) on another drive. One of Rock Hill’s scores came on a big play early in the game, meaning the Cyclones really only allowed one successful, sustained drive against a AAAAA team coming off an upset of South Pointe.

This game will represent a lot more than just another road trip. Floyd said he will be interested to see how his team reacts to being forced out of its normal routine and comfort zone. He also wanted to schedule a game out-of-state to allow his players to experience new things. Chester will stay overnight and has a visit scheduled to the College Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

“We think it’s going to be a very positive experience for the kids,” Floyd said.

Kickoff at Avondale Stadium (1192 Clarendon Ave. in Decatur, Ga) will be at 7:30 tonight.