A look at the Midlands coaches who have teams in playoff games this weekend:
Team: River Bluff
Years: 2 2014 record: 8-4
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Looking back: Born in Greer, Bennett grew up in Cheraw, and earned 10 varsity letters in four sports at Cheraw High. He went to Presbyterian College, where he started his coaching career, and coached at Coastal Carolina University for 10 years before becoming River Bluff’s first coach and athletics director.
This week: River Bluff travels to York for the second round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs
Team: Fairfield Central
Years: 4 2014 record: 11-1
Looking back: Davis was quarterback of the Griffins’ 1996 Class 3A championship team, playing under coach Buddy Pough. Pough later hired Davis as a graduate assistant at South Carolina and then as an assistant at S.C. State.
This week: Fairfield Central hosts Newberry in the Class 2A Division I semifinals
Team: Dutch Fork
Years: 5 2014 record:10-2
Looking back: Beginning his career in 1981, Knotts coached 10 years each at Charlotte Independence, West Charlotte and Harding high schools. He won seven N.C. state titles in eight championship appearances, with six in a row at Independence.
This week: Dutch Fork hosts Dorman in the second round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs
Years: 2 2014 record: 9-3
Looking back: A native of Clio, McCollum played at Marlboro County High and then at South Carolina. He returned to Marlboro County as an assistant to Dean Boyd from 1999-2003, and also served as an assistant at Wilson, Carvers Bay, McBee, Cheraw and Spring Valley before taking the reins at Keenan.
This week: The Raiders host Ninety Six in the Class 2A Division II Upper State final
Team: A.C. Flora
Years: 2 2014 record: 11-1
Looking back: Shaw graduated from Newberry College and was an assistant coach at Fairfield Central for the 1996 and 1997 championships, and defensive backs coach at Byrnes through five state championships seasons.
This week: A.C. Flora hosts Emerald in the third round of the Class 3A tournament
Years: 2 2014 record: 7-5
Looking back: Stepp is in the record books at Newberry College as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, completions and attempts. He was an All-America and All-region player and South Atlantic Conference offensive player of the year in 2006. His coaching career includes stops at Pelion, Blythewood and Spring Valley as an assistant, and his first head coaching job, at Dreher.
This week: The Wildcats travel to Hillcrest in the second round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs.
Years: 5 2014 record: 10-2
Looking back: Strickland arrived in Newberry after a 76-23 run at Gaffney over seven seasons, having won three Class 4A titles with the Indians. Before that, he won two Class 2A titles at Batesburg-Leesville.
This week: The Bulldogs play at Fairfield Central in the Class 2A Division I Upper State final
Years: 3 2014 record: 11-1
Looking back: Before he was an offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Richland Northeast, Summers coached middle school basketball and high school soccer. He is a graduate of Coastal Carolina.
This week: Westwood hosts Greenwood for a Class 4A Division II second round.
Akilah Imani Nelson