River Bluff players celebrate their win over Lower Richland, keeping them undefeated at 5-0. (Photos by Noah Watson)

River Bluff’s high school football team is 5-0 after the first half of the season, but now faces one of the most difficult remaining schedules in the Midlands. 

The Gators are mounting a comeback season. After finishing 2-8 last year, the team is undefeated and beating opponents by an average of 30 points a game.

Now, things will be tougher.

“It definitely feels like a new season starting these next five games,” sophomore quarterback Parker Murray said.

Three of the Gators’ next five opponents are undefeated. Two won or finished as runners-up in the state championship in each of the past three seasons. Of the first five teams they played, only three have more wins than losses.  

The Gators are mentally preparing for the coming difficulty. 

“We’ve got to get focused in,” Murray said. He thinks the team, mentally, needs to play like it’s starting from scratch. 

River Bluff meets Dorman Friday. The Cavaliers are undefeated and played in the state championship game three years ago. 

They’re going to be one of River Bluff’s toughest opponents. But the team is ready for the challenge, Murray said.

“I know we can compete with them,” the quarterback said. “… We really should just go out there and handle business.”

Murray said the Gators’ poor performance last year was in the team’s attitude.

“We just didn’t care,” Murray said. “Everybody was for themselves. This year, we’re more of a family.” 

Head Coach Blair Hardin said the family mindset is important, along with new coaches and “balance,” which he said is the Gators’ strength.

The changes are evident in the team’s play on the field, said Meg Mauffrey, the mother of senior running back Gray Herring. 

“They seem to be playing not just with each other, but for each other,” Mauffrey said.

The Gators travel to Roebuck, in Spartanburg County, on Friday for the Dorman game. Kickoff is at 7 pm.

Players who didn’t play in the game wore shirts with “family” on the back, solidifying the family mindset the team has this season.

Players ran to the sidelines to celebrate with the student section.

Junior wide receiver Alejandro Ambriz smiled after the final whistle.

Sophomore quarterback Parker Murray is a bright spot on the team, leading it in his second year.