Area high school football teams learned their first round playoff fates Saturday morning.
Northwestern earned the highest seed, grabbing the No. 2 spot in the Class AAAA Division II postseason. Kyle Richardsons Trojans (11-0, 7-0) will open at home against 15-seed West Florence (6-5, 2-2), a team they beat in the first round of last years postseason, 40-28. Northwestern completed the fourth undefeated regular season in school history Friday night, and the Trojans would host throughout the playoffs until a possible state championship appearance.
South Pointe, York and Nation Ford joined the Trojans in the Division II bracket. The Stallions (9-2, 6-1) drew the No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 Irmo (6-5, 4-1) in a rematch of the two teams season opener. Strait Herrons team won that game 21-17, part of an 0-4 start for Bob Hannas Yellow Jackets. Irmo rebounded well though, winning six of its last seven contests and finishing second in Region 4-AAAA behind undefeated Spring Valley. The South Pointe-Irmo winner faces the Goose Creek-Wade Hampton winner in the second round.
York drew Greenwood in one of the most even-looking first round matchups. The Cougars (9-2, 5-2) were seeded 10th and will tackle the seventh-seeded Eagles (8-3, 6-1) on the road. Gene Cathcarts Greenwood squad is the defending Division II state champs after knocking off Northwestern last December in Columbia. The Eagles started 2-3 this season, but like Irmo, got hot at the right time of the season with six wins in a row. York snapped a two-game losing skid with a close win over Clover Friday and enter the postseason for the third straight season under Bobby Carroll. The Greenwood-York winner faces the Northwestern-West Florence winner in the second round.
Michael Allens Nation Ford (7-4, 4-3) squad also is in the postseason for the third straight season but face a challenging first round matchup with No. 5 seed Stratford. The Knights (9-2, 3-1) are led by Georgia-bound Shrine Bowl quarterback Jacob Park but finished the regular season with consecutive losses to undefeated foes South Florence and Goose Creek. Nation Ford has never won a Class AAAA playoff game, but should the Falcons pull the upset they would face the winner of South Florence-Easley in round two.
Rock Hill (4-7, 3-4) travels to No. 2 seed Hillcrest (10-1, 7-0) in the first round of the Big 16 playoffs. The Bearcats drew the No. 15 seed in their return to the postseason after missing out last season. Greg Porters Hillcrest club capped off a remarkable season Friday by winning a 10th game and the Region 1-AAAA title for the first time ever. Should Joe Montgomerys team pull off the upset, the Bearcats would face the winner of No. 7 Sumter and No. 10 Mauldin. Byrnes drew the top seed in the Big 16 and hosts Wando.
Big 16 first round pairings
Wando (16) at Byrnes (1); Lexington (9) at Dorman (8); Spartanburg (13) at Spring Valley (4); Fort Dorchester (12) at Dutch Fork (5); Rock Hill (15) at Hillcrest (2); Mauldin (10) at Sumter (7); Ashley Ridge (14) at Summerville (3); Boiling Springs (11) at Gaffney (6).
Class AAAA Division II
Wade Hampton (16) at Goose Creek (1); Irmo (9) at South Pointe (8); Easley (13) at South Florence (4); Nation Ford (12) at Stratford (5); West Florence (15) at Northwestern (2); York (10) at Greenwood (7); Laurens (14) at North Augusta (3); Blythewood (11) at Beaufort (6).
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T