The South Carolina High School League playoffs are finally here and it’s semifinal week for the SCISA postseason.
Here is a look at five things to watch for this week’s games:
Walker’s status still in question
River Bluff might be without one of its best players when it opens the playoffs Friday at home against Conway.
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On Thursday, Gators coach Blair Hardin said running back Braden Walker has a “50-50 chance” of playing. Walker injured his ankle late in the game against Lexington on Oct. 25. River Bluff was off last week and there was hope extra rest would help.
Walker is second in the Midlands with 1,487 yards and 16 touchdowns. If Walker can’t go, that would mean more carries for Antonio Gantt. The senior has 806 yards and 11 TDs this year.
Dutch Fork begins playoff journey
Dutch Fork will begin the playoffs at home against South Florence and is looking for its third straight Class 5A championship.
The Silver Foxes have won 20 games in a row and haven’t lost a first-round playoff game since Tom Knotts took over in 2010. Prior to Knotts’ arrival, the Silver Foxes hadn’t won a playoff game since 2005.
It’s the first time since 2003 Dutch Fork has played South Florence. The Silver Foxes lead the all-time series, 4-2.
Streaks look to be snapped in first round
River Bluff is hosting a playoff game for the first time Friday. Here is a look at other firsts, streaks on the line this week:
Ridge View is hosting a playoff game on campus for the first time when it hosts Travelers Rest.
CA Johnson and Columbia are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Irmo is looking for its first playoff win since 2012 when it travels to Berkeley.
Camden is looking for its first playoff victory since 2009 when it travels to Seneca.
North Central is looking for its first playoff win since 1998 when it hosts St. Joseph’s.
Dreher is looking for its first playoff win since 1994, when it defeated Cheraw. The Blue Devils travel to Myrtle Beach in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
Gray Collegiate is looking for its playoff win. The War Eagles are 0-2 in their playoff history.
Hammond eyes another title berth
Hammond can earn a spot in another SCISA 3A state championship Friday with a win over rival Cardinal Newman.
The Skyhawks, who have won 23 in a row, will be seeking their 12th title appearance in 15 seasons. Hammond has won nine titles in that span.
Cardinal Newman hasn’t won a state title since 1990, when it was in the Palmetto Athletic Conference. The Cardinals have won seven games this season, their largest win total since 1998.
It will be the second Hammond-Cardinal Newman meeting this season. The teams played on Oct. 19 with Hammond winning, 62-27.
Newberry, Fairfield Central begin playoffs on road
Newberry and Fairfield Central have had their share of deep playoff runs in the past decade.
But the two 3A programs begin this postseason as underdogs and on the road. The Bulldogs will travel to Southside while the Griffins are at Pendleton.
Newberry hasn’t lost a first-round game since 2009 when it lost to Keenan. It also was 2009 when Fairfield last lost in the first round, when Clinton defeated the Griffins.
Midlands Top 10
1. Dutch Fork (8-0)
2. Hammond (11-0)
3. River Bluff (8-1)
4. A.C. Flora (8-2)
5. Airport (7-3)
6. Spring Valley (7-3)
7. Blythewood (6-3)
8. Ridge View (6-3)
9. Gilbert (6-3)
10. Brookland-Cayce (6-4)
This Week’s Picks
Class 5A Playoffs
Conway at River Bluff
Bezjak: River Bluff
Dearing: River Bluff
Irmo at Berkeley
Lexington Carolina Forest (At Coastal Carolina)
Dearing: Carolina Forest
Nation Ford at Blythewood
Spring Valley at Sumter
South Florence at Dutch Fork
Bezjak: Dutch Fork
Dearing: Dutch Fork
Class 4A Playoffs
Brookland-Cayce at Beaufort
Colleton County at Lower Richland
Bezjak: Lower Richland
Dearing: Lower Richland
Dreher at Myrtle Beach
Bezjak: Myrtle Beach
Dearing: Myrtle Beach
Lancaster at AC Flora
Bezjak: AC Flora
Dearing: AC Flora
Marlboro County at Airport
Dearing: Marlboro County
Travelers Rest at Ridge View
Bezjak: Ridge View
Dearing: Ridge View
Westwood at Belton Honea Path
Bezjak: Belton Honea Path
Dearing: Belton Honea Path
Class 3A Playoffs
Camden at Seneca
Fairfield Central at Pendleton
Georgetown at Gilbert
Newberry at Southside
Pelion at Hanahan
Swansea at Manning
Class 2A Playoffs
Batesburg-Leesville at Columbia (At Keenan)
CA Johnson at Buford
Latta at Gray Collegiate (At Benedict)
Bezjak: Gray Collegiate
Dearing: Gray Collegiate
Saluda at Blacksburg
St. Joseph’s at North Central
Bezjak: North Central
Dearing: North Central
Cardinal Newman at Hammond
This season’s records