Lewisville coach Will Mitchell feels his team is battling Christ Church Episcopal’s reputation as much as its football team this Friday in the first round of the Class A Division I football playoffs.
Christ Church (10-0, 3-0) is the No. 1 team in the S.C. Prep Media Class A poll, but was given the No. 2 seed for the state playoffs, due to the South Carolina High School League’s points system. The Cavaliers shut out Whitmire 51-0 last week for their 37th win in a row, the longest active victory streak in the state. It’s been a difficult task for Mitchell, convincing his Lions (5-5, 1-3) to look past Christ Church’s gaudy streak.
“They are an outstanding team, but we have got to get past the mystique of their winning streak,” said Mitchell. “We will present them with one of the most athletic teams they have played this season.”
Mitchell noted that Christ Church, with a roster of more than 50 players, will not have anybody playing both sides of the ball.
“We are as healthy right now as we have been all year,” added Mitchell. “We are getting people back, and we will not have anybody going both ways. That should really help us.”
Christ Church’s win streak stretches back to the 2011 season. Don Frost’s team beat seven teams with winning records that season en route to the Class A Division II state title. In 2012, the Cavaliers beat four teams with winning records on their way to a 16-0 season and the Class A Division I state title. This season, the competition has been more scarce. The Cavaliers have only played one team with a winning record, 9-1 St. Joseph’s; opponents have a combined record of 34-66.
All of that gives hope to Mitchell and his staff. Convincing the players that they have a shot against an on-paper juggernaut is harder to do, especially with impressionable teenagers.
“They are a pass-heavy team, but we are confident in what we can do,” said Mitchell. “We are focused on playing fundamental football, containing the quarterback, and keeping them from making the big play.”
Red Devils priming for Class A Division II run
Great Falls coach Ken Schofield feels his team has a chance to still be playing around Thanksgiving. Great Falls opens the postseason Friday at home against Region 3-A foe McBee (4-6, 0-4), a team that Schofield’s bunch beat 34-20 in mid-October.
“The win this past Friday night gave us some confidence and momentum heading into the playoffs,” said Schofield. “Last year we played a team in the first round that we had beaten in the regular season, and we lost. We are not taking anything for granted this time around.”
The Red Devils (5-5, 3-1 in Region 3-A) are included in a Class A Division II bracket that contains just two teams with winning records – 8-2 Hunter-Kinard-Tyler and 7-3 Wagener-Salley – both of which are in the Upper State bracket with Great Falls. The Lower State portion of the playoff has no teams with winning records; Cross High School’s 5-5 mark is the best in that half of the bracket.
“We feel good about our chances, and we are as healthy as we can be,” added Schofield. “We know what McBee is going to do. We just need to be ready for their strong running attack. Stopping that will be the key to us winning.”
Should Schofield’s team survive McBee, it would advance to face the winner of Ridge Spring-Monetta (5-5) and Wagener-Salley in the second round. Great Falls last made the second round of the postseason in 2010. The Red Devils are 17-11 all-time in first round matchups.
Bracket switch should help Indian Land
Indian Land (2-7, 1-4) has a good shot against Columbia in the first round of the Class AA Division I football playoffs, according to Warriors coach Michael Mayer. He’s had two days to mull over the Capitals’ film, after initially game-planning for Keenan, only to be told the bracket calculations were incorrect. Instead of athletic, 6-4 Keenan, Indian Land will face 3-7 Columbia.
“They are a very fast and athletic team,” said Mayer. “We just need to quit hurting ourselves. We need to play fundamental football, eliminate turnovers and penalties, and I think we have an excellent chance on Friday.”
The Warriors are feeling better after beating Buford 23-19 last Friday and ending a six-game losing rut in the process.
“Our kids are excited as well as confident right now because of the big win we had last Friday night,” said Mayer. “Hopefully, the momentum from that game will carry over against Columbia.”
Sam Copeland contributed reporting.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T