Batesburg-Leesville and Central, two of the traditional elite programs in Class 2A football, square off Friday in a Division II quarterfinal game at Panthers Stadium.
B-L is 63-27 in postseason games in the modern era with four state championships. The Eagles from Pageland are 72-30 in playoffs outings with four state championships. Friday marks the seventh meeting of the schools all of them in the playoffs but it is the first clash since Central prevailed 40-20 in the 2003 championship game.
The Panthers enter the game with a 9-2 record and fresh from a 63-27 rout of Landrum in their playoff opener. B-L, the No. 2 seed in the Division II upper bracket, drew a first-round bye.
Batesburg-Leesville matched the schools third-highest single-game scoring total against the visiting Cardinals and posted 487 total offensive yards, with 465 coming by land. The Panthers averaged 9.7 yards per offensive play.
Rickie Smith led the way with 178 yards rushing and one touchdown on 22 carries. Terrance Wilson made the most of his four running opportunities netting 103 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback JacQuiel Chandler added 52 yards rushing and had two scores.
The B-L defense got into the act, as well, on a 43-yard interception return tally by Jaquarious Hair.
To date, Smith has a team-high 1,191 yards on the ground and nine TDs. Wilson has 1,076 yards rushing, 237 yards receiving and 757 yards on kickoff and punt returns and has found the end zone by various means 30 times.
Chandler, the trigger man in the triple-option attack, has contributed 464 yards rushing and 414 yards passing with 12 touchdown runs and seven scoring passes.
The Panthers, however, may be facing its toughest defensive foe of the season. Central, after all, is allowing just 12.5 points a game a downright stingy yield in today's era of high-scoring football.
The Eagles opened the playoffs last week with a 38-21 win over Region 4 rival Andrew Jackson after closing out the regular season with a win over the same Volunteers.
Dree Linton, who became the starting quarterback late in the season, will need to have another good performance in what well could develop into an offensive shootout. Running backs Mitch Meadows and Dedrick Robinson are also key components.