High School Football

A closer look: Under-the-radar Midlands football teams poised for playoff runs

The high school football playoffs begin Friday, and more than 30 public and private schools from the Midlands made it to the postseason.

Here is a group of Midlands teams that are going under the radar with a chance to win at least two games in the playoffs:

Airport/Lower Richland: The two teams met Sept. 20 and could meet in the second round if both win their first round games in the 4A Lower State playoffs. Lower Richland has won five straight since losing to Airport 42-30. The Diamond Hornets have homefield advantage as long as they keep winning. Airport lost to Brookland-Cayce on Friday for a chance to win the Region 5-4A title but didn’t get too bad of a draw. The Eagles get Colleton in the first round and possibly LR.

Batesburg-Leesville: The Panthers won in the final minute Friday against Saluda and earned a No. 2 seed from Region 2-2A. B-L gets Central in first round and possibly Southside Christian in round two.

Gray Collegiate: The War Eagles are in the playoffs for the third straight year, the last two as Region 3-2A champions. But Gray has yet to make it past the second round in the last two years — that might change this year. If that happens, a matchup with defending state champion Abbeville could be on the horizon in round three.

Ridge View/AC Flora: The two Midlands teams are on the same side of the Class 4A Upper State playoffs and could meet in the second round of the playoffs. Ridge View shook off a tough start and ended up finishing second to South Pointe in Region 3-4A. If the Blazers continue to improve on offense to go along with their solid defense, a trip to the third round is possible. AC Flora backed up a big 2018 with a 9-1 mark in Dustin Curtis’ first year in 2019. The biggest question mark for the Falcons will be getting star tailback Matt Pack healthy for playoffs.

River Bluff: The Gators are hosting a playoff game for the second straight year and have a healthy Braden Walker at running back, which wasn’t the case last season for the playoffs. River Bluff gets West Ashley in the first round and possibly Region 6-4A champ Carolina Forest in round two.

Westwood: The Redhawks have gone on the road the past two years and came back with first-round wins over higher seeds. Westwood will try to make it three years in a row at Eastside. Westwood has Appalachian State commit Christian Horn back healthy and has allowed just six points combined the last two weeks.

Midlands high school playoff schedule

Friday

SCHSL

Class 5A

Blythewood at Laurens

Westside at Spring Valley

Chapin at Dutch Fork

Lexington at Fort Dorchester

West Ashley at River Bluff

Lugoff-Elgin at Summerville

Class 4A

Westwood at Eastside

Walhalla at AC Flora

Travelers Rest at Ridge View

Marlboro County at Lower Richland

Colleton County at Airport

Bye: Brookland-Cayce

Class 3A

Newberry at Chester

Fairfield Central at Union County

Clinton at Camden

Swansea at May River

Ridgeland-Hardeeville at Gilbert

Class 2A

Central at Batesburg-Leesville

CA Johnson at Buford

Blacksburg at Saluda

Fox Creek at Gray Collegiate (Midlands Sports Complex)

Eau Claire at Burke

SCISA

Class 3A

Augusta Christian at Hammond

Cardinal Newman at Heathwood Hall

Ben Lippen at First Baptist

8-man

Holly Hill at Richard Winn

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.
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