Hammond vs. Laurence Manning
The Hammond Skyhawks are undefeated heading into the SCISA Class 3A championship game. Laurence Manning is 10-2, having lost to the Skyhawks in regular-season play. Hammond’s past two championship bids fell short, as the Skyhawks were bitten by the turnover bug. In this attempt, taking care of the ball is a key to success. The Skyhawks have no problems moving the ball, with TJ Brady leading the rushing attack, and Cantey Heath first among a reliable crew of receivers for quarterback Nick Garrett to target. The Hammond defense, led by D’Andre Lee-Smith, will look to contain Tyshawn Epps, Laurence Mannings primary ball carrier and leading scorer. The Skyhawks have put up 413 yards and 35 points per game and allowed opponents 252 yards and 14 points.
Dorman at Dutch Fork
In the second round of the 4A Division I playoffs, Dorman brings its big offense, led by quarterback Collin Hill, to Dutch Fork looking for a second win against the Silver Foxes this season. This rematch could become a tale of dueling offenses, as Hill averages 279 passing yards per game, with JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the primary target. For Dutch Fork, Tate Fant averages 229 yards passing, and Matt Colburn leads the ground assault with an average 126 rushing yards per game. Dorman averages 423 yards and 40 points to Dutch Fork’s 449 yards and 45 points. Dorman won 48-37 on Sept. 19.
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Greenwood at Westwood
Coach Dan Pippin and the Greenwood Eagles (8-4) have won seven in a row coming into this Class 4A Division II playoff game. Westwood (11-1) has dominated most opponents with its defense.
Against their only common opponent, Dutch Fork, Greenwood lost by 26 points, Westwood lost by 30. But the Redhawks have a 33-27 average scoring advantage over Greenwood. Running back Andrew Plante puts up 120 of Westwood’s average 270 rushing yards, and senior quarterback Nick Leveretter guides the offense. Greenwood is led on offense by quarterback Roshun Jackson.
River Bluff at York
York (10-2) survived a 28-point third-quarter rally from Westside in the first round, but will not want to chance it against the Gators. River Bluff (8-4) won its first-round game, 22-21, with a second-half rally and defensive shutout. River Bluff’s offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Brandon Tillmon and running back Ti’Juan Glenn, averages 22 points, to York’s 35. Tillmon is the team’s leading rusher and leading scorer, averaging 228 total yards per game. The Cougars are led by Shrine Bowl wide receiver Daurice Simpson and quarterback Deshaw Andrews.
Lexington at Hillcrest
The 7-5 Wildcats take on fifth-ranked Hillcrest (11-1) in the second round of the Class 4A Division I tournament. Lexington is 4-2 on the road this season; the Rams are 7-0 at home. The Wildcats, led by quarterback Donnie Baker, get a huge offensive lift from running back Slade Carroll, who averages 132 yards on the ground. Baker’s passing accounts for 173 yards and gets several receivers involved, primarily Tyler Schadewald and Jayson Hopper. Lexington parlays 335 yards into 26 points per game. But Wildcats opponents have gotten 78 points off turnovers – about one touchdown per game – and Lexington averages two turnovers per game. Against Hillcrest, which posts 426 yards and 46 points per game, maintaining possession is key for the Wildcats.
Emerald at A.C. Flora
Emerald (10-2) has given up 38 points in the playoffs, while A.C. Flora (11-1) has held opponents to 20 points while scoring 76 in the first two rounds. But both teams average 31 points per game and have held opponents to fewer than 12 points per game. The Falcons have performed better against two common opponents – Emerald lost by 4 to Daniel, a team the Falcons beat 35-13 in the first round. A.C. Flora gets its offensive punch from quarterback Brendan Greene, receiver Lowndes Pope and running back Coleman Pope.
Ninety Six at Keenan
In the Upper State final of the Class 2A Division II playoffs, a highly motivated Keenan squad looks for a win and its first football state championship bid. Quarterback D’Marco Zeigler and athlete Kendrick Gathers are among a host of playmakers for the Raiders (9-3). Keenan’s 375 yards per game have gone a long way, as the Raiders have outscored opponents 401-212. Ninety Six (8-4) has been outscored 316-313 but has won tough games – 21-18 in the second round to advance.
Newberry at Fairfield Central
Running backs Omar Sims and Chris Wadsworth lead the Bulldogs as they look to avenge their regular-season loss to Fairfield Central in this Class 2A Division I semifinal. Fairfield Central (11-1) won 33-8 on Oct. 10 in region competition. Both teams average 38 points per game, but the Griffins have the more dominant defense, allowing an average of eight points, while Newberry gives up 21 points per game. While Fairfield Central’s defense tries to limit Newberry quarterback Yafari Werts, the Bulldogs’ defense must find the answer for running back Joseph Young and quarterback Stanley McManus. The two account for 254 of the Griffins’ average 318 yards per game.
Richard Winn Academy vs. Carolina Academy
Heading into the SCISA 8-Man championship, Richard Winn's Eagles have outscored opponents 716-278 in their 12-1 run, including a 49-28 win against Carolina Academy on Oct. 3. Once this season have the Eagles scored fewer than 49 points – they scored 34 points in their loss to Andrew Jackson in the regular-season finale. They have scored 116 points in the playoffs, allowing 48. The Bobcats (9-3) have won five in a row since losses to Richard Winn and Andrew Jackson. They average 37 points per game, having scored 72 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Akilah Imani Nelson