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Midlands Feature High School

Football Playoffs Abound In The Midlands As Second Season Of Competition Begins

By CHRIS DEARING

Special Contributor

Columbia--Football season is really broken down to three very difference fractions now – non-region games, region schedule and playoffs.

We’ve gotten the two preliminary parts out of the way and playoff action finally starts this week. The next goal is to be practicing on Thanksgiving morning, which will mean you’re in the state semifinals.

A handful of Midland teams have a legitimate shot at making it that far if not farther.

In Class AAAAA, Dutch Fork has home field advantage as long as they keep winning. The Silver Foxes lost an early season showdown with top-ranked and undefeated Fort Dorchester but with the brackets and home teams being predetermined, Dutch Fork benefitted the most.

If things go as seeded, the Silver Foxes wouldn’t have to see the Patriots until the state semifinals. Dutch Fork received another break having Spring Valley on the other side of the lower state bracket as well.

Dutch Fork will open the playoffs with Stratford and if they win that one, the winner of West Florence and Ashley Ridge would visit in the second round. Sumter, White Knoll, Irmo or Summerville would be a third-round opponent if the Silver Foxes can make it that far.

Spring Valley will be at home against West Ashley. The winner of that contest will face the Conway-Wando victor.

Fellow Region 5-AAAAA member Lexington joins Spring Valley in the lower part of the bracket. The Wildcats will open the playoffs with a home contest against Carolina Forest. A win there and Lexington will likely be on the road in the second round at Fort Dorchester.

It’s very likely we will see a Dutch Fork-Fort Dorchester rematch on the day after Thanksgiving.

The top-team in Class AAAA since the beginning of the season has been South Pointe and three Midland teams might have a chance to unseat the Stallions on their way to trying to earn a return trip to Williams-Brice Stadium and a fourth straight state title.

The team with the best shot could be Ridge View. The Blazers were trailing South Pointe by a touchdown at halftime before the Stallions flexed their muscle in the second half on the way to a 56-19 victory.

“We were there, we were right where we wanted to be” Ridge View coach Perry Parks said. “It was a two-quarter game, but you play four quarters of football. We saw the measuring stick and what we had to do was find a way to finish ball games. We’ll see if we learned anything from it.”

Westwood is on the same side of the Upper State bracket with South Pointe but opens up with an equally tough and undefeated North Augusta team.

Airport will go on the road as a heavy underdog against York in the first round.

The Lower State bracket in Class AAAA features three teams that tied for the Region 5-AAAA title. Lower Richland, who claimed a region title for the first time since 1991, earned the No. 1 seed based on the tiebreaker. Chapin earned the No. 2 seed and Dreher, who claimed it’s first-ever share of first place in the region, garnered the No. 3 seed.

Lower Richland will host Darlington in the first round of the playoffs.

Both Chapin and Dreher will be in the bottom part of the lower state bracket. The Eagles will be at home against Crestwood. Dreher will have to go on the road to Lugoff-Elgin.

Hartsville, North Myrtle Beach and Berkeley are the other No. 1 seeds in the Lower state bracket. The winner of Lugoff-Elgin and Dreher will have to travel to Berkeley in the second round if the Stags knock off Marlboro County this week.

Gilbert was one of 10 public high schools to finish the season undefeated and the Indians hope that momentum can carry them past the second round, the place they were eliminated last season.

Gilbert could play at home all the way to the state championship. The Indians open with Aynor and if they win there they will take on the winner of Bluffton and Hanahan. Dillon, Strom Thurmond, Bishop England or Battery Creek would be waiting in the third round.

Gilbert has been an offensive juggernaut all season, but heavyweights Dillon and Timberland could be stumbling blocks.

Brookland-Cayce earned a No. 2 seed and will host Loris in the first round. Swansea will pay a visit to Georgetown.

Fairfield Central, Newberry and Camden are in the Class AAA Upper State bracket.

Gray Collegiate will host it’s first-ever playoff game in Class AA Upper State bracket against Cheraw. Keenan goes on the road to Lee Central.

Batesburg-Leesville had to win four games on the road last season to reach the Class AA championship and the Panthers will have to do that again if they hope to return to the title game. It starts with a trip to Mullins in the first round.

It should be an exciting month as we crown five state champions the first weekend of December. .

 

 

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