No. 4 Airport draws tough opener

swiseman@thestate.comNovember 1, 2009 

Even before his team had a No. 4 state ranking and perfect regular season, Airport coach Kirk Burnett was anxious.

That feeling played out Saturday when Airport (10-0) learned it plays host to Darlington (4-6) in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs Friday.

The Falcons placed fourth in Region 6, also populated by No.1-ranked Marlboro County and No. 9 Camden. Friday's 41-15 rout of Wilson vaulted the Falcons into a date with the Region 5 champion Eagles.

"This will feel like a second- or third-round matchup," Burnett said. "Those five (region) teams are not your average first-round matchup. This will be a good test for us."

If the Eagles survive, a possible second-round matchup looms with Lake City (9-1), which has been ranked in the top 10 all season.

Airport is one of six Midlands teams that earned first-round home playoff games.

Also in Class 3A Friday night, Camden (7-3) plays host to South Aiken (4-6) and Region 4 champion Fairfield Central (7-3) plays host to Clinton (7-3) in Winnsboro.

Meanwhile, Chapin (7-3) is at Union County (5-5) after losing three consecutive games.

Dreher (3-7) turned a fourth-place finish in Region 5 into a playoff spot. It earns the Blue Devils a game at No. 1-ranked Marlboro County (10-0).

In Class 2A, Keenan's second-place finish in Region 4 earned the Raiders (8-2) a home game with Newberry (6-4) at Bolden Stadium while Columbia (7-3) plays at Batesburg-Leesville (6-4).

Eau Claire (1-9) won a tie-breaker over Lee Central (5-5) and Andrew Jackson (3-7) to land the fourth and final playoff berth from Region 4. The Shamrocks will play at Region 3 champion Strom Thurmond (8-2).

In Class A, No 3-ranked Calhoun County (9-1) will welcome C.A. Johnson (7-3) to Saint Matthews.

SCISA also finalized its playoff pairings. Top-ranked Heathwood Hall (10-0) opens at home with Porter-Gaud. Second-ranked Hammond (9-1), seeking its fourth consecutive state title, plays host to Pinewood Prep.

Ben Lippen (9-2), which lost to Heathwood Hall and Hammond, is at Laurence Manning. Wilson Hall welcomes Augusta Christian to Sumter.

Hammond and Heathwood Hall would not meet until the state final Nov. 20 at Orangeburg.

Reach Wiseman at 803-771-8472

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