Five local teams keep state-title hopes alive

11/22/2008 11:21 PM

11/24/2008 7:14 AM

High school football teams in The Herald's circulation area have done well in this year's state playoffs.

Class AAAA is split into two divisions, and with eight teams left, four -- Northwestern, South Pointe, Rock Hill and Lancaster -- are from the Herald's circulation area. In Class AAA, Chester is charging toward another appearance in the state finals.

Rock Hill is still alive in the Division I playoffs after going on the road and beating Irmo 26-3 on Friday.

Three are left in Division II, but unfortunately one will be eliminated since Lancaster comes to Northwestern on Friday for a rematch of their regular-season game.

The other is South Pointe, which caught a huge break for its third-round game. Underdog Laurens defeated Conway,10-3. If Conway had won, the Stallions would have been on the road against the Tigers because Conway was seeded higher than South Pointe (No. 3 seed). Instead, they'll stay home and host Laurens, which is seeded No. 7.

This week's winners earn a berth in the Weekend of Champions in Clemson, with four state titles up for grabs.

BEARCATS: Rock Hill (11-2) is playing at a disadvantage right now. Out with injuries are starting tailback Jamal Tyler (cracked hip), middle linebacker Brandon Jackson (fractured arm) and offensive lineman Armani Delaney (bruised knee).

But being shorthanded hasn't stopped the Bearcats. Tyler's backup, Jerante Hood, ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns against Irmo. Quarterback Jatavius Stewart scored the other touchdown and rushed for 125 yards.

The good news is Jackson could be back this week for the Bearcats' road game at Sumter (11-2), which beat Gaffney 34-31 in overtime in the second round. Jackson might be able to play with a cast because the fracture is on the top part of his arm.

TROJANS/BRUINS: Lancaster was the first to challenge Northwestern's "Air-Raid'' offense by dropping all 11 defensive players back into coverage to try and slow sophomore quarterback Justin Worley.

It didn't entirely work, but Lancaster gave the Trojans (12-1) one of their closest games this season in a 27-7 loss.

Lancaster (10-3) is hot right now. Both playoffs wins came on the road, 14-10 over Greenwood in the first round and 28-20 over Goose Creek on Friday.

But they'll have to play a near perfect game to beat Northwestern, who will keep Jarrett Neely, Cordarrelle Patterson, Labris Adams and Julian Patton running pass patterns and catching throws from Worley.

The Trojans advanced easily with a 49-9 win over Richland Northeast.

STALLIONS: South Pointe gave up 14 points in a 48-14 win over Berkeley, the most the Stallions have allowed in a game all season.

But they will take giving up a few points because the Stallions are a scoring machine. They beat West Florence 37-6 in the first round and have scored 582 points in their 13 victories, an average of 44.8.

Laurens (11-2) advanced with a 10-3 win over Conway. Its game is stopping the run. The Raiders will have their hands full against South Pointe.

Starting tailback Devin Wherry ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on eight first-half carries. He played mostly at linebacker in the second half.

The Stallions have one of the toughest players in the state to catch and bring down in quarterback Stephon Gilmore, who has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,538 yards and 11 TDs. He's run for 970 yards and 18 touchdowns.

CYCLONES: Chester (10-3) fought back from a 14-3 deficit and beat Clinton 24-14.

But it will be a world of difference this week. The Cyclones were home in the first three rounds, but must go to 13-0 Daniel to see which team advances to the state championship. Daniel is coming of a 28-7 win over Lugoff-Elgin, which Chester slipped past 22-19 in the regular season.

Chester smashed Daniel 48-24 last year in the second round of the playoffs.

WHERE DID TIME GO?: South Pointe's scoreboard malfunctioned against Berkeley, and time had to be kept on the field from the second quarter on.

The scoreboard went out with just over six minutes left in the half. Those six minutes seemed to have taken an eternity to pass. Several who timed it -- and there were some pauses to try and get the board working -- said it took 45 minutes.

The other three quarters flew by at a fast pace.

INJURY: Berkeley suffered a big loss when quarterback Bruce Ellington was injured on a kickoff return and was done for the night.

According to a Stags fan who attended the game, it's a chipped bone in his shoulder.

Ellington led Berkeley to a touchdown after the opening kickoff. The Stags scored on his 21-yard TD pass. He is the cousin of Clemson freshman running back Andre Ellington.

CONTEST: For those who entered the Founders Federal Credit Union Championship Challenge, the results from the second round of the playoffs are online.

Got to and click on 'Forums' in the red bar. When the forums come up, go down to 'Class AAAA Football' and click. Go to Founders Championship Challenge to see results.

If you need motivation to do it, we had two perfect ballots out of 97 from Friday, good for 40 points.

THANKS: Last week's high school football page was the last of the season.

Thanks to the players, coaches and fans who help make it happen. See all of you in Clemson. We know at least one team will be there -- the winner between Lancaster and Northwestern.

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