Class 4A, Division I semifinal
Byrnes at Dutch Fork
Coaches: Tom Knotts, Dutch Fork; Bryan Lane, Byrnes
Records: Dutch Fork 12-2, Byrnes 12-1
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Key players: Dutch Fork quarterback Tate Fant, running back Matt Colburn and linebacker Lane Ecton; Byrnes quarterback Micah Young, running back Isaiah Hill and linebacker Noah Dawkins
Outlook: Colburn and Fant lead a balanced Silver Fox attack, with Will Sweeper, Alec DeBoer and Austin Conner the primary targets for Fant’s 229 passing yards per game.
The passing game is Byrnes’ bread and butter. Young covers 238 yards in the air per game, involving several receivers – five Rebels have 297 or more receiving yards and 11 have made touchdown catches. For Dutch Fork, keeping the Rebels out of the end zone means disrupting that connection. Dominique Benson and Jeremy Addison lead the Silver Fox secondary, and have combined for nine interceptions.
Class 3A Upper State Final
South Pointe at A.C. Flora
Coaches: Reggie Shaw, A.C. Flora; Strait Herron, South Pointe
Records: A.C. Flora 12-1, South Pointe 10-3
Key Players: Falcons quarterback Brendan Greene, defensive back/running back Denzel Johnson, kicker Schroder Carlton; South Pointe’s Greg Ruff and Marveon Mobley.
Outlook: Greene has driven the Falcons’ offense this season, completing 98 of 182 passes for 1,945 yards and 17 touchdowns. Corey Riley, Coleman Pope and Clarence Watson each have surpassed the 500 yards rushing mark. James Croffie and Tyrell Goodwin lead a Falcons defense that has held opponents to 221 yards and 11 points per game. The Stallions put up 330 yards per game, led by Ruff’s 160 passing yards with Voshon St. Hill and Vincent McCullough splitting taking the handoffs. McCullough averages 5.7 yards per carry, St. Hill averages 7. Mobley, a linebacker and strong safety, leads a defensive unit that could cause trouble for the Falcons’ passing game. Mobley has six interceptions and seven pass deflections. The Stallion defense tallies 24 picks and 44 deflections for the season.
Class 2A, Division I Final
Newberry vs. Dillon
Coaches: Phil Strickland, Newberry; Jackie Hayes, Dillon
Records: Newberry 11-2, Dillon 13-0
Key players: Newberry running back Omar Sims, linebacker Khalil Sheppard; Dillon’s Avery McCall, quarterback, and Eri’reon Hayes, running back
Outlook: Dillon, the division’s two-time defending champion, holds a 10-point advantage over Newberry in average scoring. Led by McCall, the Wildcats have netted 416 yards per game. Hayes averages 20 yards per carry, and will be a key target for Sheppard and the Newberry defense. The Bulldogs are a run-first team, led by Sims’ 142 yards per game. The strong ground game gives the Bulldogs an edge in controlling possession and eating the clock, but the Wildcats usually do not need a lot of time to score. For Newberry, the focus is on strong offense and limiting turnovers. The Bulldogs have given opponents 188 points off turnovers – about two touchdowns per game – an advantage the Wildcats do not need. Dillon has posted 38 takeaways.
Class 2A, Division II Final
Keenan vs. Timberland
Coaches: Quin McCollum, Keenan; Art Craig, Timberland
Records: Keenan 10-3, Timberland 14-0
Key players: Keenan’s D’Marco Zeigler, Tiski Gray, and Kendrick Gathers; Timberland’s Johnell Brown, Joseph Moultrie and Ryan Hood
Outlook: Timberland’s staunch defense, led by Brown and Moultrie, has given up 85 points – an average of less than a touchdown per game – and posted six shutouts.
But, Keenan might have the speed and athleticism to get past the Wolves. Gathers, Gray and running back Tyreick Davis-Newton are the Raiders’ leading scorers, and all can score rushing or receiving. Junior quarterback Zeigler guides the Keenan offense to 346 yards per game. Both teams average 35 points per game, and the Wolves’ defense could tip that balance in Timberland’s favor. The Raiders, seeded fifth in the Upper State, might look like underdogs, but their experience of playing hard down to the wire could be a big advantage. With big leads each week, Timberland has generally been able to coast in the fourth quarter.
Akilah Imani Nelson