Here are five things to look out for in Week 11 of the high school football season in the Midlands:
Resting up before postseason
There are only eight public school games on the schedule for Thursday and Friday in the Midlands.
This was the week designated by the South Carolina High School League for makeups. But the matchups involving Midlands teams are nonregion games and most of the schools opted to not play the games to avoid injury and get ready for the postseason.
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Bolstering playoff résumés
All three teams failed to earn automatic spots from their regions but are in line for at-large berths. Spring Valley (6-3) hosts Chapin (4-5) in almost a playoff-type game. SV is in the running for at-large berth in Class 5A Upper State with its biggest competition coming from Hillcrest (5-5).
Chapin is eying the at-large spot in 5A Lower State. The Eagles’ biggest competition will be from the loser of Thursday’s Ashley Ridge/West Ashley game and the fifth-place finisher from Region 7-5A, which could be one of five teams.
Westwood (5-4) is hoping for one of the two at-large spots in 4A Upper State. The Redhawks host South Aiken, which has clinched a playoff spot.
Westwood and Walhalla (7-3) appear to be the front-runners for the two at-large spots.
SCISA playoffs begin
The SCISA playoffs kick off Friday night and all four Midlands teams (Hammond, Cardinal Newman, Ben Lippen, Heathwood Hall) have qualified for the 3A playoffs, the first time that has happened in a while.
Hammond enters the playoffs as the favorite and carries a 22-game winning streak. The Skyhawks play Wilson Hall in the first round and might face Cardinal Newman next week if the Cardinals beat Laurence Manning.
Heathwood Hall and Ben Lippen both head to Charleston for first-round games. Heathwood gets Porter-Gaud and Ben Lippen gets First Baptist, which is the favorite to play Hammond in the title game.
Flora’s winning streak
A.C. Flora enters its regular-season finale Thursday against Richland Northeast with a seven-game winning streak, third longest in Midlands behind Hammond (22) and Dutch Fork (20).
It’s the first the Falcons have won seven in a row since 2014. AC Flora hasn’t won more than seven in a row since winning nine straight in 2012.
AC Flora went winless last season and started the year by losing its first two games.
Columbia goes for win No. 5
The Columbia Capitals (4-4) enter their final regular season game against Fox Creek in search of their fifth win of the season.
The Capitals haven’t won five games in a season since 2011 when they went to the state semifinals. Columbia clinched the No. 2 spot in Region 3-2A and will host a first-round game next week against Batesburg-Leesville. That game will be played at Keenan High School.
Midlands Top 10 Poll
1. Dutch Fork (8-0)
2. Hammond (10-0)
3. River Bluff (8-1)
4. A.C. Flora (7-2)
5. Airport (7-3)
6. Spring Valley (6-3)
7. Blythewood (6-3)
8. Ridge View (6-3)
9. Gilbert (6-3)
10. Brookland-Cayce (6-4)
This Week’s Picks
CA Johnson at Pelion
Lexington at Batesburg-Leesville
Richland Northeast at AC Flora
Bezjak: AC Flora
Dearing: AC Flora
Calhoun County at Swansea
Chapin at Spring Valley
Bezjak: Spring Valley
Dearing: Spring Valley
Columbia at Fox Creek
Bezjak: Fox Creek
Heathwood Hall at Porter-Gaud
Laurence Manning at Cardinal Newman
Bezjak: Cardinal Newman
Dearing: Laurence Manning
McCormick at Eau Claire (at Keenan HS)
Bezjak: Eau Claire
Dearing: Eau Claire
Richard Winn at Beaufort Academy
Bezjak: Beaufort Academy
Dearing: Beaufort Academy
South Aiken at Westwood
Wilson Hall at Hammond
Ben Lippen at First Baptist
Bezjak: First Baptist
Dearing: First Baptist