Baxter: Favorites are flexing muscles

09/29/2013 9:21 PM

03/14/2015 3:30 AM

IN CLASS 4A Division I, there is little doubt that Byrnes is the odds-on favorite to win the championship. There seems to be little any opposing defense can do to slow the Rebels.

Spring Valley won on Friday, albeit sloppily. This team must not turn the ball over if it is going to compete in this bracket in the playoffs. The Vikings have the ability to control the tempo in any game, but it has been demonstrated what Byrnes and Northwestern can do when given a short field due to turnovers.

Dutch Fork displayed vulnerability against a solid Goose Creek team, and it would appear that the key to limiting the Silver Foxes’ explosiveness is limiting the impact of their running game.

In the Division II, Northwestern and Goose Creek seem to be the strongest teams in the state. There is a chance that both could move up to Division I for the playoffs. If that happens, look for North Augusta to become that favorite.

Upstate Class 3A powers Daniel and Belton-Honea Path continue to roll over opponents. Neither team has played its starters in the games for the past two weeks, and I don’t see anyone in Upstate 3A who appears to be threatening to either of these teams in terms of playoff opponents.

Marlboro County’s win over Dillon is evidence that it is the favorite in the Lower State. It has a huge game this week against top-ranked Hartsville, which should produce the Region 6 winner and the favorite to get to the title game from the Lower State.

Strom Thurmond lost to 4A power North Augusta but proved it is a major player in the 3A Lower State. It will host unbeaten Brookland-Cayce this week in a game that should produce the Region 5 winner.

In Class 2A, Fairfield Central got a solid win over Cheraw. The top-ranked Griffins must be considered the favorite to get back to the 2A title game. Deandre Belton will be key for this team’s playoff success.

Dillon lost to a good 3A Marlboro County team and showed vulnerability in its offensive line as well as its offensive production. It fell to a more physical team, and while the defense is solid, it must improve offensively to have a shot at repeating as state champions.

Meanwhile, there is not another 1A team in the state that can challenge Christ Church. The Cavaliers are annihilating opponents. The team has two quarterbacks, either of whom could start for any other team in the class.

Among the Midlands’ SCISA schools in 3A, it appears that Hammond is the strongest team, with Heathwood Hall, Cardinal Newman and Ben Lippen hoping to compete. Hammond lost to Orangeburg-Prep a few weeks ago in a game that could turn out to be critical in playoff seeding. But this regular season is far from over.

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