Jim Baxter answers high school football questions.
The Class 2A Division II sleeper is Batesburg-Leesville. The Panthers are going to be a tall task offensively for most of the teams in this division. Chesnee will pose a strong challenge and is the top seed. But Batesburg-Leesville may be the top underdog in any of the classifications.
In Class 2A Division I, Fairfield Central and Dillon are the heavy favorites, but each has a sleeper in its bracket. For the Griffins, Cheraw will be better the second time around. The Braves have played excellent football the past few weeks and will not be the same team the Griffins faced earlier this season. In the Lower State bracket, Dillon will get a challenge from Timberland, which has quietly dismantled opponents and has a good chance at pulling an upset.
In Class 3A, there are no Upstate sleepers. Everyone knows Daniel is the heavy favorite, and I’m not sure there is a true “sleeper” that will be a challenge. Belton-Honea Path will challenge, but it is not exactly a sleeper team.
In the Lower State, there is a gauntlet of excellent teams. But if we are going by seeding, Marlboro County is the sleeper from a No. 3 seed. The Bulldogs are one of the top teams in the entire classification and not a typical 3-seed.
As for the teams, a lot can change after action this week because some teams will pick up or lose points based on how a few of the 3A opponents do. But I believe Dutch Fork will get the No. 2 seed in 4A-DI and will face Ashley Ridge in the first round. Spring Valley will be the next highest seed, either a 4 or 5, and will more than likely face Mauldin or Spartanburg. Mauldin will be a tough game for the Vikings, as the Mavericks are potent on offense behind one of the state’s most exciting players, quarterback Dre Massey.
Lexington could end up as a No. 6 seed and would possibly face Fort Dorchester at home. Irmo will be in the 4A-DII and would possibly be a 9- to 11-seed; they could see South Pointe or North Augusta in round one. Either way, they will be on the road for the playoffs.
Obviously, we’ll have to see how the action finishes Friday night to be sure of the matchups.