SCISA Class 3A
Ben Lippen at Hammond
Undefeated Hammond took the win in the teams’ first match with a field goal from Davis Bland at the buzzer. In the rematch, the visiting Falcons hope their big offense, directed by quarterback Robert Barrow, can put them solidly in the lead. Barrow averages more than 250 yards per game passing, while Aaron McGuire leads the rushing game with a little more than 100 yards per game. Quarterback Nick Garrett pilots Hammond’s assault, but running back TJ Brady leads the team in scoring with 32 total touchdowns. He averages 8.7 yards per carry and is also a threat as a receiver, strengthening the Skyhawks’ already solid passing game.
Class 4A Division 1
Lexington at White Knoll
The No. 4 seed Timberwolves lost last week at Lexington, ending an eight-game win streak. Lexington is led by running back Slade Carroll, who has posted 1,376 yards and 15 touchdowns, and quarterback Donnie Baker, who has put up 1,555 yards passing. White Knoll’s run-first attack is manned by E’Mond Brown, who averages 7.2 yards per carry and 131 yards per game, and quarterback Calev Grubbs. Although White Knoll has lost to Lexington twice in as many years, the Timberwolves have the better record against common opponents and are undefeated at home this season.
Mauldin at Dutch Fork
Dutch Fork’s title defense begins with the No. 2 seed Silver Foxes hosting a Mauldin team that lost its last four regular-season games. Dutch Fork, led by quarterback Tate Fant and running back Matt Colburn, has averaged 450 yards and 45 points. Lane Ecton and the Silver Fox defense have held opponents to 18 points per game, and Dutch Fork has won seven in a row.
Class 4A Division 2
River Bluff at Goose Creek
River Bluff posted a 7-4 record in its first season in Class 4A competition and looks to make a strong showing in the program’s first playoff game. The River Bluff Gators, led by quarterback Brandon Tillmon and his 204 yards per game, have averaged 22 points and held opponents to 18.
The Goose Creek Gators exited the 2013 playoffs in the second round. This season, they won 10 in a row and went undefeated in the state to earn the division’s top seed. Goose Creek, led by Dominique Jefferson, averages 378 yards and 26 points per game.
Colleton County at Westwood
Westwood (10-1), seeded fourth in the bracket, has the league’s stingiest defense, allowing nine points per game. The defense is led by Bradley Carter and Davon Wilson. The Redhawks’ offense averages 276 yards rushing, buoyed by Andrew Plante’s average 120 yards, and 365 yards overall. Colleton County has been outscored by opponents 277-250.
Blythewood at South Florence
Blythewood takes on No. 2 seed South Florence, a team they lost to 38-13 in non-region competition. The South Florence Bruins were in the midst of a 10-game win streak then, and finished the regular season having outscored opponents 400-201. The Bengals’ defense will have to shut down Bruins quarterback Nick Jones – who throws for 210 yards per game – or leading rusher Rodney Brunson to avoid a repeat of their first meeting. Blythewood quarterback David Isreal has posted 2,045 yards and 20 touchdowns passing, and Osei Thomas revived the Bengals’ ground game in their final regular-season win.
Class 3A Upper State
Lancaster at A.C. Flora
The A.C. Flora Falcons notched a 37-14 win in the first round. The Falcons are strong in all phases of the game, with quarterback Brendan Greene running the option offense, a defense led by Tyrell Goodwin up front and Denzel Johnson in the secondary, and Joseph Charlton giving them a leg up in the kicking game. Running back Ferricka Grier and receiver Jay Hood are the keys to the game for the Bruins. First-year coach Bobby Collins’ Bruins have averaged 25 points and allowed 14, while the Falcons put up 30 points and give up 11 per game.
Class 3A Lower State
Marlboro County at Swansea
With the top seed out of Region 5, Swansea hosts its second home playoff game, but faces a Marlboro County team that is strong on the road. The Bulldogs last season won three games on the road – including a first-round win at Swansea – to reach the semifinals. This year, Marlboro County finished the regular season 5-5, and edged Beaufort 14-13 to advance to the second round. Swansea looks to avenge last year’s playoff ouster with a balanced attack, led by Chance Walker and Quaevon Cannon rushing, with the passing game – which averages more than 200 yards per game – directed by quarterback Clay Lucas.
Class 2A Division 1
Newberry at Woodruff
Coach Phil Strickland’s Bulldogs have won four in a row, with a 42-point margin of victory in the first round. The No. 3-seed Bulldogs, led by Yafari Werts and running back Omar Sims, have run over opponents to the tune of a 416-235 scoring advantage. Woodruff, the division’s No. 2 seed, averaged 41 points and allowed 13. The Wolverines are a strong passing team, with a 60-percent completion rate, a test for Khalil Sheppard and the Newberry defense. Woodruff is led by quarterback Keevon Gist and a slew of receivers, including Demajiay Rooks and Keith Pearson.
Strom Thurmond at Fairfield Central
The Griffins have won 10 consecutive games, and opened the tournament with the division’s No. 1 seed. Fairfield Central, led by quarterback Stanley McManus, averages more than 310 yards and 38 points per game. Strom Thurmond’s offense averages 355 yards, with 125 yards on the ground from quarterback Tyree Stiddem, Chad Gilchrist and Deion Chinn. Stiddem is 132-229-4 for 1,646 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Rebels have posted 27 points per game and held opponents at 15.
Class 2A Division 2
Keenan at Chesnee
The No. 5 Keenan Raiders take on the No. 1-seed Chesnee Eagles, who stand at 10-1 and have won 10 in a row. Keenan edged Central (seeded fourth) by three points in the first round with solid rushing and big plays from quarterback Marco Zeigler and athlete Kendrick Gathers. The Raiders boast a strong defense that has held opponents to 15 points per game, compared to Chesnee’s average 27 points allowed. Keenan has posted back-to-back wins on the way to its third consecutive second-round appearance.
Akilah Imani Nelson