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Florence Area High School

Florence area prepsters compete on playoff level

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Florence – A busy and productive fall sports campaign is winding down for the Florence Area high schools as region and state playoff competition is in full swing.

Teams in various sports at all of the local high schools have enjoyed success and carried their seasons into the postseason, the goal of every team.

A few of the local football teams will begin play in the playoffs on November 3rd. West Florence finished strong to clinch third-place in region 6-AAAAA and earned a spot in the bracket. The Knights will travel to Ashley Ridge, the third-place team in region 7-AAAAA, on November 3rd.

West Florence finished the regular season with a 4-6 record overall. The team has had a pair of quarterbacks sharing time as Cooper Wallace and Hale Emerson have combined for more than 800 passing yards this season. Wallace, also a runner, has rushed for more than 400 yards.

The focus of the West Florence offense, however, is the running game. Leading the way is Ailym Ford, who enters the postseason with 1,605 yards and 14 touchdowns. The team’s top receiver has been Vick Johnson, who has 35 receptions and five touchdowns this season.

On defense, the Knights are getting solid play from several athletes. Stephon Alexander leads the team in tackles with 96 total hits while Jordan Swinton has tallied 67 hits. Dakyas Belser has 63 tackles, including six for loss, while Damon Muldrow has 44 tackles, 12 for loss, and three sacks.

Sophomore Braxton Taylor has four sacks and freshman Nyke Johnson has a team-leading three interceptions. Sharrod Simmon has a pair of picks as well.

The Wilson Tigers posted a 6-4 record during the regular season under first-year head coach Derek Howard. Wilson earned a spot in the postseason with a third-place finish in region 7-AAAA and will travel to Cane Bay on November 3rd.

Cane Bay was the runner-up in region 8-AAAA with an 8-2 record.

The Tigers certainly believe they can make some noise in the postseason, especially under the arm of quarterback Jacob Quillen. Quillen has passed for 2,639 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, completing 62 percent of his passes and adding nearly 400 yards rushing.

Kam’ron Bradford is the team’s leading rusher with several receivers producing in the passing game. Zion Keith, a South Carolina Shrine Bowl selection. Keith has 57 catches for 908 yards in the regular season while DJ Fullard has 41 catches for 502 yards. Antwan Smith and Yavin Smith each have at least 25 receptions as well.

The defense is led by linebacker Jarva McRae, who has 80 tackles and seven tackles for loss. Malik Melton has 73 tackles, 10 for loss, while Jamar Smith has 50 tackles.

The South Florence Bruins failed to reach the playoffs this season, finishing with a 1-9 record. A handful of players, however, put together solid seasons. Junior end Michael Mason finished the year with 122 tackles, 11 sacks and 24 tackles for loss. Linebacker Eddric Whack had 78 tackles and senior end Sokoya McDuffie had 12 tackles for loss. The 6-6, 275-pound McDuffie was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl all-star game as a member of the South Carolina squad.

Offensively, running back Tony McFadden gained 641 yards rushing while Aquanzie Bethea added 405 yards on the ground. Quarterbacks Shalique Parks and Hunter Benton combined to pass for more than 1,000 yards.

In cross country, the West Florence girls team won the region 6-AAAAA meet in late October. The winning effort was led by senior Darrian Cole, who finished second in the race. Cole also competed in the Class AAAAA state qualifier, finishing 13th to earn a spot in the state meet on November 4th.

In the region meet, senior Caroline Falcone finished behind Cole in fourth-place while freshman Lila Dixon finished 10th. Seventh-grader Cassandra Hitch placed 11th overall and freshman Reeves Barnes-Young was 17th.

The South Florence girls team finished fourth in the region meet team standings. The top runner for South Florence was seventh-grader Caelin Sloan, who was seventh overall. Sophomore Jordyn Hughes was 12th and sophomore Aubrey Crawford was 24th.

Sophomore Rachel Shumate finished 25th and freshman Avia Sloan finished in 31st place to round out the team scorers.

In the boys region meet, West Florence finished fourth and South Florence was sixth. Leading the effort for West Florence was junior Patrick Morgan, who finished second overall. Morgan also earned a spot in the Class AAAAA state meet with a 16th-place finish at the state qualifier.

Freshman Conan Bailey was the next Knight to score, finishing 11th. Senior Burns Gaskins (18th), junior Richard Shurman (23rd) and junior Ian Spivey (34th) rounded out the scoring runners.

For South Florence, junior Ethan Kasitz was fourth in the region meet and 21st at the state qualifier, earning a spot in the state meet.

 Sophomore Ivan Morris was 28th at the region meet and eighth-grader Daniel Kasitz was 35th. Seventh-grader Evan Coleman (38th) and sophomore Sam Hill (39th) finished up the scoring.

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