Site: Willie Varner Stadium. Time: 7:30 p.m.
Batesburg-Leesville notes: The Panthers (7-4) opened the Class 2A state playoffs with a bang, thrashing Columbia 60-13. It was the third highest winning score for B-L in history, Interestingly, the four top single-game scoring totals in school annals have all been in the playoffs. The record is the 63 points hung on Wade Hampton in 1996 … The game marked the return to traditional values. The Panthers running game produced a season high 390 yards. K.J. Johnson put on quite a show. The junior quarterback ran for 194 yards and four touchdowns on just 12 carries. That’s an average of 16.2 yards per carry, folks. Johnson was also 9-for-11 passing for 116 yards and two TDs … The Panthers secondary picked off four Columbia passes, one of which Tyrelle Leaphart returned for a score … The B-L deep unit will face a major challenge this week when they go up against Woodruff’s prolific Jake Lambert. The Panthers have 19 interceptions on the books. Jamal Bryant has accounted for 11 picks himself.
Woodruff notes: The Wolverines continue their quest for a return to glory. It’s probably safe to say that most of today’s young players have no idea about Woodruff’s long and glorious history under Varner, who passed away last year … Here’s a quick review: Woodruff won 10 state championships under Varner between 1956 and 1984. Since the dawn of the modern era (integration) in 1970, only four schools four schools – Blackville-Hilda, Lake View, Summerville and Clinton - top Woodruff’s total of 61 postseason wins during the span. Only Byrnes (8) has more state titles on the board than the seven the Wolverines have posted since 1970 … Today’s Wolverines are not at all like the land-locked Varner teams of the past. Woodruff is now a full-blown, spread-it-out, air-it-out offensive outfit. Quarterback Jake Lambert makes it all work. He is 189-for-307 passing for 2,961 yards and 39 touchdowns … Woodruff (11-0) opened the playoffs with a 42-6 win over Crescent as Lambert threw for 241 yards and four TDs in the first half … Last year’s run to the Upper State championship game was the longest playoff stay since 1993 – the last season Varner guided a team (and lost) to a state title bout. Nothing short of advancing to the Weekend of Champions this season would be considered a failure in Varnerville … The bulk of the program’s success came a rather long time ago. In fact, Woodruff’s last championship season was in 1984.
Series history: This will be the fourth straight year the Panthers and Wolverines have met in the second round. In fact, five of the eight previous playoff encounters between the two storied programs have been in the second round. B-L enjoys a 5-3 edge in the series (all in the playoffs). The Panthers beat Woodruff 42-21 in the 1979 Class 2A championship game.