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 I think have a great shot to make it to finals and win a championship.
Brookland-Cayce: The Bearcats have one of the best running backs in the Midlands with Will Way and plenty of momentum going into the postseason. The Bearcats have won six straight games and have a first-round bye in the Class 4A playoffs. B-C’s half of the bracket is tough with possible matchups against Wilson and Hartsville.
Camden: Outside of the slip-up against Fairfield Central, the Bulldogs have steamrolled through the competition. Willis Lane leads the area in rushing and the Bulldogs average more than 300 yards per game on the ground. The biggest obstacles might come against Union County in the 3A Upper State semifinals and top-ranked Chapman in the Upper State final.
Dutch Fork: This one is a no-brainer. Dutch Fork has won three straight Class 5A titles and have been on top of the rankings all season long. The Silver Foxes have outscored opponents 455-98 and have a dynamic 1-2-3 punch on offense in quarterback Ty Olenchuk, running back Jon Hall and receiver Jalin Hyatt. A potential stumbling block might be in third round with DF having to travel to Fort Dorchester in the third round.
Gilbert: The Indians have never played for a state title but this might be the year that happens. Gilbert has one of the top passing offenses in the Midlands with Jy Tolen having a career year at quarterback. Gilbert averages 516 yards of offense and 46 points per game. The 3A Lower State is strong and the Indians might face Dillon in round three, but it would be at home.
Hammond: Much like Dutch Fork, Hammond is a safe and easy pick to play for a state title. The Skyhawks are loaded with the likes of college-level talent Jordan Burch, Alex Huntley and Jackson Muschamp. Hammond has won two straight SCISA 3A titles and 10 since 2006.
Midlands High School Playoff Schedule
Laurens at Blythewood
Westside at Spring Valley
Chapin at Dutch Fork
Lexington at Fort Dorchester
West Ashley at River Bluff
Lugoff-Elgin at Summerville
Westwood at Eastside
Walhalla at AC Flora
Travelers Rest at Ridge View
Marlboro County at Lower Richland
Colleton County at Airport
Newberry at Chester
Fairfield Central at Union County
Clinton at Camden
Swansea at May River
Ridgeland-Hardeeville at Gilbert
Central at Batesburg-Leesville
CA Johnson at Buford
Blacksburg at Saluda
Fox Creek at Gray Collegiate (Midlands Sports Complex)
Eau Claire at Burke
Augusta Christian at Hammond
Cardinal Newman at Heathwood Hall
Ben Lippen at First Baptist
Holly Hill at Richard Winn