Breaking down the remaining CSRA high school football playoff games: South Carolina edition
AUGUSTA, Ga. - The CSRA has been a hotbed for competitive football games in both states and the playoffs have definitely not been any different!
We have reached the quarterfinals of the South Carolina side of the high school football bracket and there are several local area teams playing in huge games.
In this article, I'll break down what you need to know about each game before they kick off!
SC Class 4A
Westside (11-1) vs. Midland Valley (12-0)
The Midland Valley Mustangs are looking to extend their undefeated run and punch their ticket to the Upper State Championship, but to do so they'll have to beat a really talented team in Westside.
The Rams lost their first game of the season to Belton-Honea Path (12-0, in Class 3A), but have not looked back since. They beat T.L. Hannah (5A), Abbeville (2A), and Greer in their out of region matchups. The also made easy work out of Greenville, Greenwood, and Easley in their region play (all of which were playoff teams). When you look at the tape one thing becomes very clear, they can air it out. Junior quarterback Cutter Woods has thrown for over 3k yards and 32 touchdowns this season. The Rams are not a one-trick pony though, they also have a stable of running backs all have a knack for finding the end zone. They have outscored their first two playoff matchups by a combined score of 91-13.
The Mustangs continue to show resiliency in the playoffs. They have come from behind in both their first two rounds to come away with the win. A big reason for that is star running back Traevon Dunbar. Dunbar has a chance to go for six any time he has the ball in his hands. He rushed for 249 yards and 3 TDs last week which brings his season totals to 2655 yards on the ground and 34 TDs. Wide receiver Antrone Butler has also continued to make crucial plays to extend drives for the Mustangs. If Midland Valley wants to come away with a win, they'll need not only another impressive game out of Dunbar, but an impactful game from QB Preston Butler as well.
SC Class 2A
The good news is that 3 out of the last 8 teams in the 2A quarterfinals are from the CSRA, the bad news is none of them will be favored to win (Strom Thurmond may be a slight exception depending on who you ask).
Gray Collegiate Academy (13-3) vs. Strom Thurmond (10-2)
This may be the most highly anticipated game in the state this week and if it wasn't for it being in West Columbia, it would hands down be our Game of the Week.
The War Eagles have had an interesting year to say the least. The teams in their region took a stand this year against what they say is a competitive unbalance and forfeited their region games in protest. So with the region locked up, the Gray Collegiate scheduled games against powerhouse schools IMG Academy (FL), Clearwater Academy International (FL), and St. John's (DC) and lost all three. But they have beaten everyone else they have faced including Christ Church Episcopal (10-2) , Crestwood (11-1), Hammond (10-2), Portal (8-3), and Camden (9-3). What makes Gray a tough team to beat is that they can beat teams in a variety of ways. They have two sophomore QB's (Tyler Waller and Dre'von Dopson) who are not afraid to air it out when the game is on the line, especially to Jamarious Lockett. They also can run the ball down team's throats with BJ Montgomery and Caleb Ford.
The Rebels have been waiting for this one all year. They have one of the best passing offenses in the state led by Tennessee wide receiver commit Braylon Staley and Senior QB Quan Edmond. The also have tremendous depth at wide receiver with Demarius Tolen and Jay Sewell. Both of which would be number one options at other schools in the area. Their defense has been tremendous source of strength this season. They have not allowed more than 23 points in a game so far this season (Silver Bluff only put up 7), but they are about to face their toughest matchup of the year.
Maxpreps.com ranks these schools as the top two in the Class 2A and it is tough to argue against it. If you are willing to drive to see a good game, I highly recommend heading to this one.
Silver Bluff (9-3) vs. Abbeville (11-1)
Now to the other half of the Upper State bracket (Yes, we are still not used to both Silver Bluff and Strom Thurmond not being in the Lower State bracket either.) where we have a matchup between two annual powerhouses.
The defending class 2A champion Abbeville Panthers have only dropped one game this season and that was to 4A Westside. They rely on a strong run game through a Wing-T offense and a normally stout defense to outlast teams. The only knock on Abbeville is their out of region schedule this year was not necessarily the toughest, but its safe to say the talented Silver Bluff defense will have their hands full.
Silver Bluff is coming off of a dramatic road win against Fairfield Central where their defense wound up being the difference maker. Georgia Tech commit Jordan Boyd got a crucial pick six and the Bulldogs took the lead after going for two. They will need Boyd, Jaylen Fuller, and Jaydon Eason to all have their best game of the season to come out of Abbeville with a win.
While a majority of people may say it's unlikely, how cool would it be to have a Silver Bluff-Strom Thurmond rematch with a trip to the state title game on the line Thanksgiving week.
Barnwell (8-4) vs. Oceanside Collegiate Academy (9-2)
Barnwell is definitely the surprise team in this year's 2A quarterfinals. They are coming off two solid performances against Lake Marion and Marion. The latter being a pretty big road upset.
The Warhorses are led by Junior QB Cameron Austin, who is the definition of a gunslinger. He can fit the ball in tight windows, but he also is susceptible to throwing interceptions (16 this year). We had the chance to see him play against Blackville-Hilda earlier this season and he was truly fun to watch, even in a losing effort. He also leads the team with 20 rushing touchdowns and more than 800 rushing yards this season. Jaquan Peeples, Jordan Peeples, and Logan Sturkie are his go-to weapons.
Meanwhile, the Landsharks are looking to get back to continue to try to get back to the title game after coming up short against Abbeville last season. They have only lost to South Florence (4A) and Sumter (5A). Their defense continues to be their strength as they have shutout both their first two playoff opponents Lee Central and Woodland. Their starting QB Edward Reidenbach tore his ACL late this season, but freshman Aiden Manavian and junior Tanner Swisher have both stepped up in his absence.
SC Class A
If your team is out of it and you want a pair of local teams to root for these two local schools may be the most fun, but for completely different reasons.
Blackville-Hilda (10-2) vs. Christ Church Episcopal (10-2)
Blackville-Hilda may be the team that plays with the most heart in the region. They also may have one of the smallest roster size in terms of players in the region, but don't let that fool you, they can play with just about anyone. The Fighting Hawks are lead by junior standout running back Jaquel Holman who also plays outside linebacker for them. Samari Williams does not have the eye-popping stats this season, but once you watch him play, you can see he is the engine that drives the offense down the field. They also have a weapon in Tamari "TD" Daniels who is blazing fast and they keep finding ways to get him involved in the offense. The fact that they have a smaller roster does not mean they are any slouches on the defensive side of the ball. They limited on of the top offenses in the class Bamberg Ehrhardt to just 7 points earlier this year in a 7-6 defeat.
That being said, they definitely will have a tough task this weekend. Christ Church Episcopal lost to Gray Collegiate and Riverside this year, but have been dominant against class A action. The Greenville private school can light up the scoreboard. Junior QB Tucker Hendrix has thrown for 2k yards, 33 TDs and 9 INTs this season. They also have a very talented running back with Dashun Reeder who has 20 TDs if his own. Junior wideout Jackson Repp looks to be Hendrix's favorite target with more than 1200 receiving yards and 22 TDs.
Cross (11-1) vs. Bamberg-Ehrhardt (11-1)
Save for a poor performance against their cross town rivals Denmark-Olar, The Red Raiders have been dynamic this season. GSU 2025 QB commit Chanston Crosby has been on a tear. In their game against East Clarendon, he threw for over 416 yards and 3 scores. Perhaps their greatest strength though is their depth, they have a ton of guys who can beat you in a variety of ways. Nick Folk, Isiah Johnson, Eric Lee, and Nigel Myers have had big moments on offense so far this postseason. Anthony Williams is a game changer on both sides of the ball as well. Middle Linebacker Jamie Downing has had a very strong season as well. Their offense can put up a lot of points, but don't let it distract you from how talented their defense is as well.
Cross is coming off of a strong performance against Allendale-Fairfax. Their only loss of the season came from Calhoun County, but when you break down their season that was the only team they played with a winning record. Senior QB Tyler Mungin is a dual threat talent. He has more than 12 hundred passing yards and 14 TDs in the air, as well as 600 yards on the ground and 12 rushing TDs. Karmello Jones and freshman Mah'Ky Green are both talented running backs.
SCISA 8 Man Championship
Jefferson Davis Academy (11-2) vs. Holly Hill Academy (11-1)
8 man football! The Raiders are hoping to avenge their only region loss to Holly Hill Academy with a win in the state championship game. Paxton Wall, Colson Loadhold, Nasir Void have all had a monumental impact on the success of their season. The Raiders are coming off of a close victory over Richard Winn Academy. It's important to note that these teams played each other twice and each came away with a victory this season. Jefferson Davis won their first meeting this season 28-22. Holly Hill's dynamic offense runs through Tyree James who has 33 rushing TDs this season. This should be a close game to decide who takes home the SCISA 8 Man title.
Later on this week, I'll set the stage on what you need to know about the playoff action happening in the Georgia side of the region!
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