Three things we know
It was the week of the rematch
But the winners did not change. In the first round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs, White Knoll lost to Lexington for the second time in as many weeks, and Blythewood scored fewer points against South Florence than in its Oct. 2 loss. Hammond, which edged Ben Lippen by a field goal in August, won its SCISA 3A semifinal rematch against the Falcons by 14.
and the upset
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The No. 16 seed River Bluff Gators left their glass slippers at home for their Class 4A Division II playoff game. The Gators sent home No. 1 seed Goose Creek (10-1) with a second-half rally on offense and a defensive shutout to win 22-21. The dramatic win, which featured a last-minute touchdown run from quarterback Brandon Tillmon, was the program’s first in the playoffs. Keenan also posted an upset – topping Class 2A Division II No. 1 seed Chesnee 60-39. The fifth-seeded Raiders took the lead in the second quarter and never let up. They posted 574 yards and ran over a team that averaged 24 points allowed.
The Falcons are rolling
A.C. Flora is improving as the Class 3A playoffs continue, and this could be the year the Falcons soar. The Falcons (11-1) are getting stronger on offense and bolder on defense. Their goal of putting the Midlands on the high school football map may well be accomplished, as they are bracketed to host through the Upper State final.
Three things we don’t know
Is Westwood on way to the semifinals?
Westwood, in its first season in Class 4A, could have the program’s longest season yet if it advances to the Division II semifinal. The Redhawks, the No. 4 seed, face No. 5 Greenwood in this week’s second round and, on paper, have the upper hand. The Redhawks are 5-1 at home and have a more productive offense and stingier defense. The Redhawks ended last season 7-5 in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. At 11-1, they have the program’s best record, but could make school history with a second-round win.
Which team will be more motivated?
When the Dorman Cavaliers defeated Dutch Fork earlier this season, coach Dave Gutshall said his team was motivated in part by the memory of its 2013 loss to the Silver Foxes, 42-39. This year, the Cavaliers nipped Dutch Fork in return, winning 48-37 on Sept. 19. In this season’s rematch, the Silver Foxes are aiming for a second consecutive Class 4A championship, while Dorman is looking to reach the championship game for the first time since 2010. Who will be hungrier?
What’s next for Swansea?
The Swansea Tigers overcame an 0-4 start to win the Region 5 championship, but their season ended this week in the Class 3A tournament’s second round. When they return next year, the Tigers will be without several key players from this year’s effort – quarterback Clay Lucas, receiver Craig Johnson and defensive standouts Jonathan Sutton, Tyquan Austin and Chris Brunswick. Who will step up to fill their cleats?
Three top performers
Slade Carroll, Lexington: Rushed 29 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns
John Trapp, Westwood: Scored two rushing touchdowns and made a 79-yard kickoff return touchdown
Tiski Gray, Keenan: Rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries
Three to watch
Newberry at Fairfield Central
In a rematch of a Region 3-2A rivalry, Fairfield Central (11-1) hosts Newberry (10-2) in the Class 2A Division I semifinal. The Griffins, led on offense by Stanley McManus and Joseph Young, defeated Newberry 33-8 in October. Fairfield Central averages 38 points and 310 yards per game. Newberry also averages 38 points and reached the third round with a taxing 42-28 overtime win at Woodruff.
Hammond vs. Laurence Manning
For Hammond’s 10th consecutive trip to the SCISA Class 3A finals, the Skyhawks (12-0) face a Laurence Manning team they defeated 37-7 in October. Hammond’s defense has been dominant all season, and running back TJ Brady leads its offense, which posts an average of 32 points per game. Laurence Manning (11-2) is led by running back Tyshawn Epps and averages 37 points.
Emerald at A.C. Flora
The host Falcons are 11-1 after a 41-7 win in which the defense shone. A.C. Flora’s defense, led by Denzel Johnson and Lane Botkin this week, has allowed 10 points per game. The offense uses a balanced attack to post nearly 29 points per game. Emerald (9-3) averages 30 points and has won eight in a row. With a win, the Falcons would host Class 3A Upper State final on Nov. 28.
What they said
“In life, we don’t get a lot of second chances.”
— Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts, whose team will face the Dorman team it lost to in September, in the second round of the playoffs
“Kickoff return, we don’t even have a reverse. That’s two weeks in a row we’ve tried to run a reverse that the players just made up their own. You do stuff like that, you should get beat.”
— South Pointe coach Strait Herron, on the region champion Stallions losing to Seneca
“You did the little things right, and you see the results.”
— Hartsville coach Jeff Calabrese, to his team, which posted 492 yards in a 42-0 win over Georgetown.
Akilah Imani Nelson