High school football | Commentary

Baxter: Playoff picture comes into view

October 27, 2013 

THE PLAYOFF picture is muddy for several Midlands’ teams with one week left in the A, 2A and 3A, and two weeks remaining for 4A.

Here’s a glimpse of what could happen:

2A

Fairfield Central will be a top seed after claiming the region crown last week over Pelion. Quarterback DeAndre Belton has produced big numbers and his team should be a favorite to get to the title game.

Batesburg-Leesville’s flexbone offense has hammered opposition and its annihilation of Newberry Friday night showed how good it is. Led by sophomore running back Terrance Wilson, the Panthers are going to be a strong contender for the 2A-Division II title.

Keenan has been having an outstanding season behind all-state athlete Peter Esaw.

3A

Swansea finished second Region V. Third place will probably go to Midland Valley. The fourth place, which could get an at-large berth in the playoffs, is up for grabs. A Brookland-Cayce win over Airport settles that, putting the Bearcats in that fourth spot; but an Airport win, coupled with a Gilbert upset of Swansea this week would put Gilbert in that fourth spot.

It won’t matter much because none of the Lower State Midlands teams will be much of a match after the second round, coming up against the likes of Marlboro County, Hartsville, Crestwood, Socastee, Strom Thurmond and Hanahan.

Region VI will see Chapin getting top spot. Westwood, Dreher and Camden are battling for the other spots. I can’t see the fourth-place team in this region getting a spot in the playoffs.

That said, I don’t think Chapin at the top spot will have deep playoff success against powers like Daniel, Belton-Honea Path, Greer, and Wren in the Upstate bracket.

4A

Although there are two weeks of regular season left, we have a pretty good idea of who’s going to be playing in the posteason.

In the Region IV, Spring Valley have not been challenged by anyone but themselves. Coach Miles Aldridge’s flexbone offense is potent with running back John Miller ... when they protect the football. Even a perennial power like Byrnes will have play near flawless to beat Spring Valley.

Blythewood is playing better in the second half of the season with strong play from their offensive skills positions, including wide receiver Lynard Jamison. But this team has to become less giving on defense.

The Region V is led by Dutch Fork and Lexington, each unbeaten in region play. They will face off this week. I believe it will produce the region winner, but if Dutch Fork gets the win, it has North Augusta left on the schedule.

As for the postseason, each of these teams will be competitive in their respective brackets, though I feel there are weaknesses on each of those defenses that could be exploited by the explosive Upstate offenses.

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