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Knights, Gators enter Region VI-4A play

Both teams look to bounce back from losses for playoff chase

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Everybody's 0-0.

That's how coaches talk about things as they ready their respective teams to enter region play - everybody has a blank slate and a chance to shine on the all-important path to the playoffs.

Crestwood is 3-3 overall as it heads to Darlington on Friday with each of its wins followed by a loss, including last week's hard-fought 17-8 loss to 1A powerhouse Lamar. At 2-4, Lakewood is looking to regain some of its early-season intensity after a fourth straight loss, 32-13 at the hands of Wade Hampton, as it heads to Lugoff-Elgin for its first region outing.

"It's the beginning of the second part of the season," said Lakewood head coach Larry Cornelius, in his first year leading the Gators. "Whatever we did in non-region play doesn't matter at this point. It's history. Obviously, we're looking to rebound. We took a tough one last week. We weren't focused, and I blame coaches and players on that. It was just a game we weren't ready to play. We've got to step it up in practice and be more intense."

Lugoff-Elgin is 3-3 after coming off a pair of losses following a 3-1 start to the season, including last week's 27-24 loss to Lancaster.

"They're a physical team," Cornelius said of the Demons. "They play disciplined football, power on the offensive side. They don't do a whole lot different on defense. They're going to give you what you see on film, but they're physical and they play great fundamentals."

Cornelius said his team has the talent to make noise in the region standings if it can regain its focus.

"We have a lot of athleticism on this team, we just need to get back to disciplined football," he said. "We were focused and intense in our first four games, and we lost that in our last game. We were neither. If we can get back to that level, then anything's possible."

Crestwood's loss was especially hard to take as it was homecoming, although Lamar is the top 1A team in the state. The Knights had their chances to win, but too many costly penalties and turnovers spelled doom. Still, head coach Roosevelt Nelson said he saw some things to build on in the loss.

"We definitely took the positives from that game, but also the negatives, and we'll learn from the negatives and build on the positives," Nelson said. "We definitely have our full attention on Darlington right now. It's a region game and it's important like all of them are, but region games have a little bit more importance to them."

Darlington, at 1-4 after starting the season with four straight losses, is the lone team in the mix coming off a win after a 36-8 triumph over Lake City.

"I expect a team that will come out and play extremely hard, like they've done the entire season," Nelson said of the Falcons. "If you watch the film, they definitely play hard in all three phases of the game and they've got some good athletes."

Besides correcting the mistakes that cost his team a shot at Lamar, Nelson said he is looking to continue to build on a solid defense that kept a high-scoring Lamar team out of the end zone after the first quarter and only gave up one touchdown. The other came on a blocked punt.

"Defensively, we want to play well against the run, tackle great and just play good fundamental football," he said.

Nelson said it would be a game-time decision whether quarterback Anthony Bradley would be ready to play after leaving last week's game by ambulance in the fourth quarter after taking a helmet to the knee. Nelson said Bradley saw limited reps in practice on Wednesday, but that sophomore backup Keith Holliday was ready to go.

"He got the majority of the reps this week, but Bradley did practice today, and that was a good sign," he said.