High School Sports

Playoff underdogs: who to watch

WHILE CLASS 4A plays one more night of regular-season games Friday, every other high school football team in the state will crank up the intensity for the postseason.

Pairings released Saturday gave teams what they hope will be road maps to Columbia, where the Class 3A and 2A champions will be crowned at Williams-Brice Stadium on Dec. 5.

Class A's two champions will be determined a week earlier in Orangeburg, where the Division I and II title games are set for Nov. 27.

In SCISA's top division, Heathwood Hall and Hammond appear to be on a collision course to meet on Nov. 20 in Orangeburg for the championship.

But enough about the favorites; the underdogs are what make the playoffs fun.

Here is one opinion on the long shots who could do some damage:

CLASS 3A

Let's look to the Upper State bracket, where a team that surprised many last year appears capable of doing so again.

This is Lugoff-Elgin's swan song in Class 3A before moving to Class 4A in 2010. The Demons (7-3) have been in and out of the rankings all season and placed third in rugged Region 4; they open the playoffs at Riverside.

Lugoff-Elgin's three losses came by one point in overtime to No. 5 Airport; by three points to a Chapin team that was unbeaten at the time; and by three points to No. 4-ranked Chester.

A 24-13 win at Region 4 champion Fairfield Central on Oct. 23 showed Lugoff-Elgin is capable of advancing to at least the third round of the playoffs.

CLASS 2A

Let's go to the Lower State in this bracket, where a team that is at home for its first playoff game is primed for a run.

Woodland (5-5) began the season by losing five of its first six games. That included a 85-8 loss to Byrnes.

But the Wolverines, led by quarterback Robert Smith, carry a four-game winning streak into the postseason. They've scored 40 points or more in each of their five wins. Despite the Byrnes result, Woodland has outscored its opponents 334-274.

CLASS A DIVISION I

It's difficult to say a 9-1 team is an underdog, but Allendale-Fairfax qualifies because it will not host a playoff home this season.

The Tigers tied with Bamberg-Ehrhardt (9-1) and Calhoun County (9-1) for first place in Region 4 but are seeded No. 5 in the Lower State bracket.

With a win at Baptist Hill (6-4) Friday, Allendale-Fairfax likely would face top-seeded Lamar in the second round.

CLASS A DIVISION II

There's something about a No. 5 seed that's intriguing, so let's look at Lake View.

The Wild Gators (6-3) have lost to Dillon (8-2), Carvers Bay (9-1) and Hemingway (9-1). First-round playoff foe C.E. Murray (5-5) appears primed for the picking even though Lake View will be the visitor.

Top-seeded Cross (8-2) might want to beware of a possible second-round meeting.

SCISA

In Class 3A, Heathwood Hall (10-0) and Hammond (9-1) look strong.

Ben Lippen (9-2) lost to both of them - its only losses - which forces the Falcons to hit the road for the playoffs.

Ben Lippen made the semifinals last season. If the Falcons beat Laurence Manning on Friday, they likely will meet Heathwood Hall in the next round, and that won't be an easy one for the Highlanders.

  Comments