White Knoll vs. A.C. Flora
Site: The Wolf Den. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Talk about an interesting opener. A.C. Flora opens a new era under coach Reggie Shaw after winning 33 games over the past three seasons under Dean Howell. Howell makes his debut at White Knoll, which is coming off a 10-4 season – the best in program history Both teams took big graduation hits Flora’s go-to guys on offense are running backs Aven Pollard and JuWan Simon Quin Jones, who ran for 1,526 yards and 12 touchdowns and highly regarded offensive lineman Christian Taylor (6-5, 345) are the Timberwolves leaders.
Series history: Howell’s Falcons scored a 34-20 win over White Knoll in the first meeting of the teams a year ago.
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Irmo vs. South Pointe
Site: WC Hawkins Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Simply put, South Pointe is an elite program, going 76-21 with two state championships since opening in 2006. The Stallions from Rock Hill are coming off a 12-2 season – the fifth straight year with double-digit wins. Irmo has regressed of late, going 12-13 over the past two seasons ... He may not be Jadeveon Clowney, but SP senior defensive lineman Zeek Rodney (6-2, 255) is one of the top senior defensive linemen in the state.
Series history: South Pointe took a 2-1 series lead with last season’s 17-10 win.
Spring Valley vs. Lower Richland
Site: Harry Parone Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Lower Richland came on late in Darryl Page’s first season, and has the look of a classic dark horse team. Spring Valley enjoyed its first taste of significant success in six years, and has designs on moving up even more in 2013 ... Page has a number of potential blue-chip players, in particular junior defensive ends Rayson Thomas (6-3, 190) and Danien Graves (6-2, 210), senior offensive tackle Tre Goodwin (6-4, 255) and senior receivers Devanta Hampton and Jontrai Jackson Linebacker Christian Miller and running back John Miller are Spring Valley’s stars.
Series history: Friday marks the 44th meeting of the teams. Spring Valley ruined Page’s LR debut with a 27-6 win last season to up its series lead to 33-10.
Swansea vs. Calhoun County
Site: Doug Bennett Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Longtime Midlands coach Bill Kimrey returns as a head coach with the Saints from St. Matthews – a program featuring blue-chip talent that produced 77 wins over eight seasons before the bottom fell out a year ago (1-10). Swansea is 24-11 since Chap Leaphart took over in 2010, and is 19-5 over the last two seasons ... Swansea has some holes to fill, but senior running back Travis Loadholt, junior linebacker Johnathon Sutton and a veteran offensive line featuring three-year starters Devin Johnson (6-1, 265), Davon Bolton (6-1, 285), BT Saunders (6-0, 250) and Rodney Williams (6-3, 240) provide a decent foundation for continued success.
Series history: Swansea was a 38-13 winner last season. The Tigers won 12 of the first 13 meetings and lead the series by an 18-9 margin.
Brookland-Cayce vs. C.A. Johnson
Site: The Cage. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Here are two teams looking for a fresh start after combining for a 3-18 record in 2012. CAJ hopes to put its new emphasis on the running game on display. Brookland-Cayce hopes to keep its key players healthy for a change, most importantly quarterback Zeke Walker.
Series history: B-C was a 48-12 winner in the first meeting of the teams last year, but the Bearcats went winless the rest of the way.
Keenan vs. Eau Claire
Site: Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: The game is shifted to Benedict College because of poor field conditions at Bolden Stadium Keenan is opening under new coach Quin McCollum with the idea of improving on a 7-5 rebound season in 2012. Special teams terror Peter Easaw, who had an astounding eight return touchdowns last season, is the Raiders headliner Eau Claire, which has suffered through 25 consecutive losing seasons, will try to make some progress off a 1-10 season in Tyrone Davis’ second year in charge.
Series history: Keenan has won seven of the last eight meetings, including two decisions last season, to increase its series lead to 27-10.
Camden vs. Cheraw
Site: Zemp Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Camden has won only four games on the field over the past two season and surrendered a school-record number of points last season. Cheraw has slipped back some from the glory days of 2002-07, but the Braves are coming off back-to-back 7-5 seasons so there is hope for continued improvement.
Series history: Cheraw set the tone for Camden’s disappointing season with a 51-38 win last year. It was the first meeting of the one-time region rivals in 11 years. Camden clings to a 7-6 series lead in the modern era.
Wilson vs. Columbia
Site: Florence Memorial Stadium. Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Columbia is looking to rebound from a 4-7 campaign – its first losing season in 11 years. Wilson has slipped into mediocrity since winning the Class 3A state championship in 2007. The Tigers are 23-27 over the past five seasons with no playoff wins.
Series history: Wilson blanked the Capitals 14-0 last year in the first meeting of the teams.
Dreher vs. Fox Creek
Site: Memorial Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: The Blue Devils debut under new coach Treigh Sullivan after going 8-2 a year ago but failing to make the playoffs. The idea is to win the more important games this time around. Class 1A Fox Creek dropped off to 2-8 last season after posting 17 combined wins in 2010 and 2011.
Series history: Dreher was a 20-0 winner last season in the first meeting of the teams.
Saluda vs. Gilbert
Site: Bettis Herlong Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Gilbert had a decent showing in its Class 3A debut, finishing with a 4-7 record and making the state playoff cut. Saluda is coming off its best back-to-back seasons in more than 10 years Saluda has two highly regarded senior linemen in defensive end Dexter Wideman (6-4, 270) and Kwamella Barnes (6-5, 297).
Series history: Saluda’s 26-7 triumph last season gave the Tigers a 7-6 edge in the series.
South Aiken vs. Richland Northeast
Site: Findley Memorial Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Richland Northeast will be young and inexperience in its final season at the Class 4A level. The Cavaliers will be facing top quarterback prospect Bo Baldwin, who has been injury plagued for the past two seasons – missing 12 games in all. Baldwin suffered a wrist injury early in the RNE game last season that cost him five games.
Series history: RNE opened the 2012 season with a 28-21 win over the Thoroughbreds for a 2-1 series lead.
Pelion vs. Ridge Spring-Monetta
Site: Pelion Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Pelion hopes the Zach Hawkins-to-Freddie Phillips passing combination becomes something special in 2013. If so, the Panthers should improve on last season’s 4-7 showing. Ridge Spring-Monetta, with veteran quarterback Reggie Preston in the forefront, is another team hoping to better a 4-7 grade.
Series history: Ridge Spring-Monetta was a 46-22 winner last season and enjoys a 16-11 edge in the series. Pelion is 11-3 since 1993 after the Trojans won the first 13 meetings.
Airport vs. Westside
Site: Eagle Stadium. When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Game notes: Airport suffered its first losing season since 2006 and failed to make the state playoff cut for the first time since 2003. The Eagles are looking to turn things around with more speed on the attack being a key factor in the plan. Westside hasn’t had a winning season since 2007.
Series history: Airport has not stumbled in four previous games with the Rams from Anderson. The Eagles rolled to a 38-2 win last season.