Batesburg-Leesville (7-2, 4-0 Region 2-2A) vs. Saluda (5-4, 2-2)
Site: Panther Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Batesburg-Leesville nailed down the region championship with a 29-19 win over Newberry and former coach Phil Strickland. The Panthers dominated the second half, outscoring the host Bulldogs 19-0 after the break. Terrance Wilson was the catalyst for B-L, running for 195 yards and four touchdowns and catching two passes for 55 yards and one TD. Rickie Smith powered inside for 122 yards and one score on 22 carries. Wilson is averaging 12.2 yards per rush, 24.1 yards per catch, 26.8 yards per kick return and has scored 160 points (28 touchdowns) Saluda has had another solid season, but the Tigers can make a statement with a win over the neighboring Panthers. If successful, Saluda would assure itself of a winning record and back-to-back seasons of finishing in the black for the first time since 1972-73.
Series history: Saluda has won two in a row, but B-L has dominated the modern era portion of the series (since 1970) with 38 wins in 44 tries.
Columbia (2-7, 1-3 Region 3-2A) vs. Eau Claire (1-8, 1-3)
Site: Memorial Stadium. Time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: The only reason the season won’t end on Thursday for Columbia and Eau Claire is the fact that every team in Class 2A make the playoff cut. So, the merciful end won’t come this week Columbia scored its first region win last week – a 26-14 decision over North Central. Kimone Shaw had one scoring run and Quinn Carolina caught a scoring pass from freshman quarterback Mike Williams, but the game-winning plays came from other sources in the third quarter. With NC knocking on the door at the 1-yard line, the Knights inexplicably call for a pass play. Darrius Richardson picked off the pass and raced 103 yards for a backbreaking touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Diante Petruso scooped up a Knights fumble and ran it 41 yards for Columbia’s final score of the game Eau Claire played well on defense last week in a 29-12 loss to Keenan. The Shamrocks, who blitzed on virtually every down, had 21 tackles for loss or sacks in the game and had four takeaways. The trouble was the offense produced no touchdowns, just 51 yards and turned the ball over seven times (six interceptions). Wallace Green had a 91-yard kickoff return and Brandon Thompson had a 50-yard interception return score.
Series history: Eau Claire has managed only four wins in 29 outings against Columbia since 1970, the last in 2010.
Keenan (6-3, 3-1 Region 3-2A) vs. Pelion (5-4, 3-1)
Site: Bolden Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: The winner earns runner-up region honors behind Fairfield Central Keenan came away with a bizarre 29-12 win over Eau Claire last week. The Raiders prevailed despite four turnovers, 160 yards in penalties and 21 plays that resulted in negative yardage. Peter Easaw and Kendrick Gathers made the difference. Easaw ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Gathers had four catches for 96 yards and one TD on offense and lead a big defensive effort with three interceptions, including a pick six that covered 101 yards. In all, the Raider defense swiped six EC passes, recovered one fumble and limited the Rocks to a paltry 51 offensive yards Pelion gave it a go against undefeated Fairfield Central last week. The Panthers led at halftime, but ended up falling by a 33-16 count. Pelion’s ground-oriented Wing-T attack features quarterback Zach Hawkins (114-713-12) and running backs Ervin Green (106-743-6), Isaiah Jenkins (76-564-6) and Freddie Phillips (55-356-3).
Series history: Keenan’s 39-21 win last season was the Raiders first triumph in five meetings with Pelion.
North Central (3-6, 0-4 Region 3-2A) vs. Fairfield Central (9-0, 4-0)
Site: Boonetown Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Fairfield Central is riding a 15-game regular season winning streak – the second longest in program history. The Griffins wrapped up the region championship last week with a 33-16 win over Pelion, breaking open a close game in the second half. QB DeAndre Belton was 10-for-13 passing for 153 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a team-high 91 yards and one score. Davon Pearson was the FC defensive star with seven tackles, including three tackles for loss from his interior line position North Central is coming off a disappointing 26-14 loss to Columbia that relegated the Knights to the region basement. William Jennings did what he could – rushing for 266 yards and one touchdown on 43 carries, catching one pass for 18 yards and averaging 39 yards on two punts.
Series history: FC is 3-0 against the Knight, winning 56-6 last season in the first meeting of the teams in 25 years.