Round 1 4A/5A Preview
#AL – Dorman (3-7) at #1 – Byrnes (9-1)
We get a rematch in the first round of the playoffs between these to region rivals. Dorman fell to Spartanburg last week, but snagged the at-large bid, while the Rebels defeated Gaffney on the road to win the region title.
Just a few weeks ago these teams played a great game at Nixon Field, with Byrnes hanging on for a 28-26 win. The game was tied at 14 heading to the fourth quarter, and Byrnes scored two quick touchdowns to go up 28-14 with about 6 minutes remaining. The Cavaliers got a touchdown from K.D. Hainesworth (missed extra point attempt), an onside kick, and another touchdown from Hainesworth to cut the lead to two. The Byrnes defense held on the two-point attempt, and recovered the next onside kick to seal the win.
Most people expected Byrnes to dominate the first time, but the Cavaliers defense kept them in the game with 3 interceptions (2 returned for TDs). They’ll need a similar performance this week to keep this one close as well. The Cavaliers offense, while improved, still struggles in the redzone. They can’t afford to come away with no points on trips down there this week if they want to knock off the Rebels. Byrnes has all the confidence in the world right now, and I expect to make some adjustments to try and keep the turnovers at a minimum this time. If Byrnes gets Tre Segarra going early, I think they can wear down the Dorman defense and pull away for a win. If Dorman can create turnovers and hit on some big plays, anything can happen.
#4 – Spartanburg (5-5) at #2 – Rock Hill (6-4) – Thursday
Spartanburg defeated Dorman to lock up the #4 seed, while the Bearcats fell to Clover in region title match-up last Friday.
The Vikings are coming off of their best offensive performance of the season last week, led by Freshman tailback Trenton Lynch and Sophomore quarterback Trey Burke. Burke looked good in just his second varsity start. While Burke was sharp early, and Lynch broke off big runs late, the Spartanburg defense looked great as always. They’ll need to be dominant defensively again this week, taking on a Rock Hill team that averages 35 points per game. The Bearcats had scored 40+ in four straight games, before being held to 21 by Clover last week.
If Spartanburg can continue what they did last week on offense, they have a great chance for pulling off the upset. Rock Hill has struggled against the better defenses they have seen this year (South Pointe, Northwester, Clover) averaging just 16 points per game in those losses. Spartanburg could be better than all of those, holding opponents to just 14 points per game, despite a brutal schedule. If the Vikings can execute in the redzone on offense, 17 points could be enough to come away with the win. If they can’t get touchdowns in those situations, the Bearcats will come out on top.
#3 – Boiling Springs (4-6) at #2 – Dutch Fork (5-5)
Boiling Springs was on a bye last week, while Dutch Fork knocked off Lexington to get the #2 seed.
The Bulldogs won the three-way tiebreaker for the third seed, and their reward is a trip to take on the defending 5A state champions. These programs, at least this year, are trending in different directions. The Silver Foxes are normally one of the top teams in the state are coming in at 5-5, while the Bulldogs have something building in year 2 of the Matt Reel era.
These teams both have stout defenses with Dutch Fork allowing only 16 points per game, and the Bulldogs just 19. This should be a physical match-up, and I expect a low scoring ball game. If the Bulldogs want to come away with a victory, they need to win the field position battle, and let Lincoln Huskey and the offense to have some short fields to work with if they want to put up enough points. Dutch Fork is going to run the ball and try to wear down the Bulldogs defensive front. If the Bulldogs offense struggles, the Silver Foxes will dominate time of possession and do just that.
#3 – Lexington (7-3) at #2 – Gaffney (7-3)
Lexington fell to Dutch Fork, while the Indians lost at home to Byrnes last week.
Gaffney was plagued by turnovers and penalties last week, and can’t afford to let that happen again. The Wildcats have playmakers on both sides of the ball and will make teams pay for their mistakes. However, if Gaffney plays a clean game, they are one of the best teams in the state. I think the coaching staff will make the necessary adjustments, and you’ll also see a heavy dose of Jaiden McDowell this Friday. Lexington has struggled to score points against the better defenses this season, and Gaffney may be the best they’ve faced yet. I think Gaffney will come out much sharper this week, and as long as they’re not looking ahead, they should come away with an opening round win.
#16 – Indian Land (6-4) at #1 – Greer (5-5)
Greer pounded Riverside 42-21 last week, while Indian Land held off Lancaster 25-22.
This game is very interesting. Greer rolled through region play outscoring opponents by nearly 34 points per game, while Indian Land played in a much tougher region, finishing 2-3. Greer has found a formula that works with Chris Hall and LaDanian Martin leading an impressive ground attack.
The Jackets will once again go heavy on the run, as the Warriors have struggled stopping the run down the stretch. If Greer can limit the penalties, they have a great chance to advance to the second round. If the Yellow Jackets make mistakes and put themselves in long down and distance situations, they’ll be playing right into the Warriors hands. This game hinges on who comes out early and establishes a lead. Neither team is built to play from behind, so whoever is able to come out and impose their will early will move on to round 2.