After two straight losses in title games, Northwestern's football team might be ready to create its dynasty.
The Trojans are one of the most feared teams in the state, a powerhouse nearly every season. But Northwestern has gone to the well two straight years, coming away with a small gulp from what could have been a full glass.
Could this be the year that the Trojans finally get over the hump and win the Class AAAA Division II state championship that has eluded them the past two years? They lost to rival South Pointe in the title game two years ago at Clemson. They came up short again last year to Berkeley in USC's Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
Northwestern starts its third straight quest for a spot in the title game against James Island at 7:30 tonight at home. The Trojans are 11-0, coming off their third straight region championship, and are ranked No. 2 in the latest AAAA state poll.
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And in case you haven't noticed, this could be the best team Northwestern has ever put on the field. That's a big statement considering the Trojans have played in six state championship games under coach Jimmy Wallace. But his team last won in 1993, a 2-0 win over Gaffney in Clemson, and will be trying to shake a four-game losing streak in title games this season.
The Trojans have the firepower to do it.
The "Air Raid" passing offense is flying under the direction of offensive coordinator Kyle Richardson and is led by senior Justin Worley, who statistically is the best quarterback in state history. He has practically rewritten the state record book and should own all the top spots before this season ends.
Worley, who committed to Tennessee, has an outstanding group of receivers. Senior Robert Joseph is also stamping his name in the state record book, and Worley has talented targets in B.J. Boyd, Brandon Lewis, LaThomas Long, Stewart Hunt and Del McLeod. Those six have combined for 285 catches, 3,718 yards and 45 TDs.
Worley has passed for 3,968 yards and 47 touchdowns for the Trojans, who are averaging 40.2 points and 431 yards per game.
The defense also has played well, allowing only 15.4 points and 293 yards per game. That side of the ball is led by three talented linemen, Division I recruits Gerald Dixon and Rod Byers, and Collins Mauldin. They have accounted for 206 tackles, 15 sacks and six caused fumbles.
Clover travels to Dutch Fork in the opening round of the of the Class AAAA Division I playoffs. Former Charlotte Independence coach Tom Knotts is in his first season with the Silver Foxes.
South Pointe hosts Daniel in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs. Chester is on the road at Belton-Honea Path.
South Pointe is ranked No. 1 in its classification and is playing down from AAAA for the first time.
Chester, led by Clemson-bound quarterback Tony McNeal, is on the road against the Belton-Honea Path Bears, 11-0 and ranked third in the state.
In Class A, Great Falls has a huge road test at 10-1 Williston-Elko, the state's No. 1 ranked team in its classification.
Westminster Catawba is in the second round of the Christian School playoffs and hosts SouthLake, a team the Indians beat 45-0 in its season opener.