High School Football

Updated SC high school football playoff schedule ... and five early observations

The first round of the high school football playoffs is in the books. Here are five things that are standing out.

Midlands matchups for Round 2

There will be three all-Midlands matchups for the second round of the playoffs, including two in Class 4A.

AC Flora hosts Ridge View and Lower Richland hosts Airport in 4A. State champ Hammond hosts Heathwood Hall in the SCISA 3A semifinals. It is the second time in three weeks the two teams will meet. Hammond won 42-7 on Nov. 1 and enters the game with a nine-game winning streak and its average margin of victory is 46.1 points. Heathwood is having its best season in a decade. The Highlanders’ eight wins are the most winning 12 in 2009.

The Airport-LR matchup also is a rematch. Airport won 42-30 on Sept. 20 but the Diamond Hornets haven’t lost since.

Flora and Ridge View isn’t a rematch but the school’s two coaches know each other well. RV’s Perry Parks and ACF’s Dustin Curtis met three times when Curtis was head coach at Westwood.

Injuries, upsets change 4A bracket

Westwood’s big win over Eastside wasn’t the only upset in 4A playoffs last night.

Greer knocked out unbeaten and No. 2 South Pointe in the first round, opening up the Upper State part of the bracket.

In the Lower State, Myrtle Beach and Lower Richland played most of their games without their starting quarterbacks.

South Carolina commit Luke Doty left Myrtle Beach’s 63-31 win over Lakewood with an injured hand. Doty said Saturday he will be meeting with an orthopedist Monday.

Lower Richland quarterback Jamison Ganzy didn’t play the final three quarters of the Diamond Hornets’ win over Marlboro County. LR coach Rodney Barr said Ganzy has a bruised shoulder and should OK for the second round game with Airport.

Olenchuk near the top of Knotts’ list

Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts has coached several blue-chip quarterbacks over the years in his four stops in the Carolinas. And according to Knotts, Ty Olenchuk ranks near the top of the list.

“I coached Chris Leak, who won a national championship at Florida, and he throws every bit as good as Chris Leak,” Tom Knotts said of Olenchuk following the 55-10 win over Chapin in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. “I don’t know how he doesn’t have 15 Power Five offers.”

Olenchuk, a Clemson baseball commit, doesn’t have any Division I offers but continues to rewrite DF’s record book. He became the school’s all-time passing yards leader Friday and has 8,134 yards.

Olenchuk also holds the record for most TD passes (93) and several single-game and single-season marks.

“Playing under coach Knotts has been pretty awesome,” Olenchuk said. “He’s got the scheme and we got the players. To me, to be able to be the head man is pretty awesome. It is a lot of fun, having the receivers I got and the scheme we got.”

Westwood loves life on road

Going on the road hasn’t bothered Westwood in the first round of the playoffs.

The Redhawks won their third straight first-round road game Friday when it defeated Eastside, 70-52. Eastside came into the game ranked No. 8 in Class 4A poll.

All three of Westwood’s wins came over ranked opponents. The Redhawks’ 70 points were the most in school history, breaking the previous mark of 56 set in 2015 against Lugoff-Elgin.

DQ Smith’s emergence

Spring Valley changed its offense coming into the season and put it in the hands of sophomore DQ Smith.

Smith has delivered especially lately. The Vikings signal caller accounted for 320 yards and five touchdowns in the first-round win over Westside. In his last four games, Smith has 1,303 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns in that span.

“The game is slowing down for him,” Spring Valley coach Robin Bacon said of Smith after Friday’s win. “The first four or five games, things were going at him 100 mph. Now things are starting to slow down and he’s understanding the offense. The biggest thing is, he’s gaining confidence. He’s great leader and wants to win.”

SCHSL Playoff Schedule


Class 5A

Upper State

Byrnes at Laurens

Gaffney at Sumter

Spring Valley at Dorman

Mauldin at Clover

Lower State

Wando at Dutch Fork

Berkeley at Fort Dorchester

River Bluff at Carolina Forest

Summerville at Goose Creek

Class 4A

Upper State

Belton Honea Path at Greenville

Greer at Wren

Westwood at Daniel

Ridge View at AC Flora

Lower State

Airport at Lower Richland

North Myrtle Beach at Myrtle Beach

Wilson at Brookland-Cayce

Hartsville at Beaufort

Class 3A

Upper State

Woodruff at Pendleton

Newberry at Chapman

Chesnee at Union County

Broome at Camden

Lower State

Cheraw at Strom Thurmond

May River at Aynor (Thursday)

Lake City at Gilbert

Dillon at Wade Hampton

Class 2A

Upper State

Batesburg-Leesville at Southside Christian

Saluda at Buford

Andrew Jackson at Abbeville

St. Joseph’s at Gray Collegiate (Midlands Sports Complex)

Lower State

Bamberg-Ehrhardt at Timberland

Burke at Barnwell

Calhoun County at Woodland

Oceanside Collegiate at Whale Branch

Class A

Upper State

Ridge Spring Monetta at Whitmire

McBee at Blackville-Hilda

Ware Shoals at Lamar

McCormick at Wagener-Salley

Lower State

Cross at Baptist Hill

Lake View at Branchville

Scott’s Branch at CE Murray

St. John’s at Green Sea Floyds


Class 3A

Heathwood Hall at Hammond

Ben Lippen at Laurence Manning

Class 2A

Florence Christian at Hilton Head Christian

Orangeburg Prep at Trinity-Byrnes

Class A

Thomas Heyward at Pee Dee Academy

Carolina Academy at Bethesda Academy


Palmetto Christian at Andrew Jackson

St. John’s Christian at Richard Winn

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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.