Three questions answered; three things we don't know; three top performers; top games for next week.
THREE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
C.A. Johnson proves its mettle
Doubt surrounded C.A. Johnson's after a 66-18 loss to Region 4-A leader Williston-Elko on Oct. 16. But the Green Hornets, headed to the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons, shook off the doubters to beat Blackville-Hilda 8-7 Thursday. With a victory against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler this week, the Green Hornets (7-2, 4-1) can finish second in Region 4-A.
Heathwood Hall is No. 1
The Highlanders strung together win after win this season, knowing the accomplishment would seem hollow unless they beat three-time defending SCISA 3A champion Hammond. Heathwood Hall (9-0) did just that, using its defense to throttle the Skyhawks' offense in a 10-7 win for Hammond's first home loss since 2005.
Midlands entries lacking in Region 4-4A
York County's South Pointe and Rock Hill took turns smacking Spring Valley, Ridge View and Blythewood last season. Blythewood, riding a five-game winning streak, had a chance to strike a blow for Richland County on Friday night. But South Pointe dominated the second half to win 43-24. Up next for the Bengals: at unbeaten, No. 2-ranked Rock Hill.
THREE THINGS WE DON'T KNOW
Is Chapin out of gas?
Chapin rose to No. 5 in the Class 3A rankings before a 34-14 loss to Chester on Oct. 16 at home. Despite that setback, the Eagles were still in the Region 4-3A title race - until Friday. A 36-30 loss to Lower Richland (2-7, 1-3), which ended a seven-game losing streak, was stunning. Now the Eagles (7-2, 2-2) face a trip to Fairfield Central (6-3, 3-1) and need a win to avoid a fourth-place finish.
Can Newberry nail down a home playoff game?
The Bulldogs (6-3, 3-1 in Region 3-2A) lost 27-20 loss at Strom Thurmond Friday to give the Rebels the region title. To avoid falling to third place and finding itself on the road for the playoffs, Newberry must beat county rival Mid-Carolina this week.
Can Sumter set up a Region 6-4A showdown with Hartsville?
Left for dead after losses to Crestwood and Stratford to start the season, Sumter has rebounded with seven consecutive wins. The Gamecocks (7-2, 3-0) are tied with Hartsville (8-1, 3-0) for the Region 6-4A lead; Sumter plays Conway this week while Hartsville has South Florence. If both win, the league championship will be decided when Sumter visits Hartsville on Nov. 6.
THREE TOP PERFORMERS
Ryan Smith, Airport
The speedy running back helped No. 4-ranked Eagles roll by rushing for 165 yards and three touchdowns in 17 carries in a 48-7 win over Dreher. Airport (9-0) will be a tough out in the Class 3A playoffs.
Connor Owings, Gilbert
Quarterbacked the Indians to their first Region 3-2A win, completing 13-of-24 passes for 217 yards and four touchdowns in 35-24 win at Saluda.
Phillip George, Keenan
The senior running back helped the Raiders beat Columbia for the second consecutive year, rushing for 122 yards and scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown in a 21-8 win.
THREE TOP GAMES FOR NEXT WEEK
Richland Northeast (4-5, 4-1) at Irmo (8-1, 5-0)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Irmo can wrap up the Region 5-4A championship with a win at W.C. Hawkins Stadium. Richland Northeast started the season with four consecutive losses, then ripped off four wins in a row in region play to become a factor in the league race. A 35-0 loss to North Augusta on Thursday changed that. Now comes Irmo, which has won seven in a row.
Camden (7-2, 4-0) at Marlboro County (9-0, 4-0)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
This game will decide the Region 6-3A champion. Camden lost twice to Marlboro County last season, including a 35-28 defeat in the third round of the playoffs at Bennettsville. This time, the Bulldogs get a chance to knock off the state's top-ranked Class 3A team and assure themselves home playoff games at Zemp Stadium.
Central (7-2, 4-0) at Columbia (7-2, 3-1)
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Central comes to Memorial Stadium looking to wrap up the Region 4-2A championship for the second consecutive season. In 2008, it propelled the Eagles to a runner-up finish to Dillon in the Class 2A playoffs. Columbia's offensive blackout caused its region title hopes to dwindle in Friday's 21-8 loss to Keenan.
THREE SOUND BYTES
"Those guys gave a Herculean effort on that play. It's our time. We playd with a swagger and we believed at the end even after the fumble. Those guys made a play when it was needed." C.A. Johnson coach Jerry Jackson, after the Green Hornets stopped Blackville-Hilda on fourth down to preserve an 8-7 win Thursday night.
"I cannot say enough about Cole Fowble. That's a tough job when you're out there by yourself with the game on the line like that." Heathwood Hall coach Rip Blackstone, after Fowble's field goal in the final seconds lifted the Highlanders past Hammond 10-7 Friday night.
"I once heard somebody say that one of the most meaningless stats is the halftime score." Blythewood coach Geremy Saitz, after the Bengals led 17-14 at intermission before losing 43-24 to South Pointe Friday night.
Video highlights from Ben Lippen's 35-21 win over Cardinal Newman