By Alex Smith
It’s finally here. The opening round of the football playoffs have arrived, and all of the teams in our area will be participating. Now let’s take a look at what’s coming up this Friday in 2A and 3A.
I’ll start in 3A where the Region II champion Chapman Panthers will host the 4 seed from Region III, the Emerald Vikings. Chapman closed out the regular season two weeks ago with a 48-20 victory over Chesnee to finish the regular season undefeated for the second consecutive year.
Emerald’s offense looked good in their regular season finale, although they ended up losing the game to Union by a score of 51-48. The Vikings did a nice job by making the playoffs this year, but I believe this is where their season ends. The Panthers balanced offense will be too much for Emerald to handle, and if the defense causes a turnover or two, this game could get out of hand early. Chapman has outscored opponents by an average of 24 points per game, and I think that’s about where this one ends up.
The Union Yellow Jackets, who won the Region III title, will open the postseason by hosting the Chesnee Eagles. The Jackets enter the playoffs on a five game winning streak, behind a dominant run game anchored by a powerful offensive line. The Eagles have struggled to stop the rush this year, and I don’t see it getting much better this Friday as they will have to stop a pair of electric playmakers in T.T. Kershaw and Kesean Glover.
The Eagles made the playoffs with a win over Carolina a few weeks ago, but I don’t see a magical Cinderella run here, and I expect the Yellow Jackets to win this one by more than two touchdowns.
Another match-up of two area teams will take place in Woodruff, where the Wolverines will host the Broome Centurions. Woodruff finished the regular season 7-3 in Coach Bradley Adams’ first season, good enough for the 2 seed in the region, which has them opening the playoffs at home.
It’s been a tough year for Coach Fleming and the Centurions, who came into the season with high expectations, but sit a just 4-6 as they enter the playoffs. After a 65-20 drubbing of Carolina, Broome has had two weeks off to get healthy, and prepare for what they hope is a long playoff run.
This should be one of the more exciting first round games in the upstate, as both teams feature quarterbacks who were named to the North-South All Star game in Woodruff’s Keegan Halloran and Broome’s Brendan Taylor.
I think this game will go down to the wire, and I think Broome’s ability to break off big plays, both on offense and special teams, will give the Wolverines all they can handle. However I don’t see the Centurions slowing the Wolverines offense for four quarters, and I think Woodruff’s ability to run the ball will wear down Broome in the end. Give me the Wolverines to come away will a close victory to move on to round 2.
In 2A the Landrum Cardinals will open the postseason at home for the first time in the Coach Jason Farmer era, and they will play the Central Eagles. Landrum will look to bounce back after ending the regular season with a loss to Southside Christian.
The Cardinals’ defense has been stellar all season long, and they will have their hands full against a 6-4 Central team that has topped 40 points five times on the season. I believe Coach Farmer will have his team motivated after a loss, and Landrum’s balanced rushing attack led by Turner Ussery and Michael Clark will be good enough to score a few touchdowns, which is usually enough for a Cardinal win. I like Landrum to get the win in a relatively low scoring game, and keep the season alive for at least another week.
Another great week of football in the upstate, and it’s win or go home. Doesn’t get any better than this.