FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR IN THIS WEEK'S GAMES
The South Carolina High School League playoffs are finally here and it’s semifinal week for the SCISA postseason.
Here is a look at five things to watch for this week’s games:
WALKER’S STATUS STILL IN QUESTION
River Bluff might be without one of its best players when it opens the playoffs Friday at home against Conway.
On Thursday Gators coach Blair Hardin said running back Braden Walker has a “50-50 chance” of playing. Walker injured his ankle late in the game against Lexington on Oct. 25. River Bluff was off last week and there was hope extra rest would help.
Walker is second in the Midlands with 1,487 yards and 16 touchdowns. If Walker can’t go, that would mean more carries for Antonio Gantt. The senior has 806 yards and 11 TDs this year.
DUTCH FORK BEGINS PLAYOFF JOURNEY
Dutch Fork will begin the playoffs at home against South Florence and is looking for its third straight Class 5A championship.
The Silver Foxes have won 20 games in a row and haven’t lost a firstround playoff game since Tom Knotts took over in 2010. Prior to Knotts’ arrival, the Silver Foxes hadn’t won a playoff game since 2005.
It’s the first time since 2003 Dutch Fork has played South Florence. The Silver Foxes lead the all-time series, 4-2.
STREAKS LOOK TO BE SNAPPED IN FIRST ROUND
River Bluff is hosting a playoff game for first time in school history Friday. Here is a look at other firsts, streaks on line this week:
Ridge View is hosting a playoff game on campus for the first time in school history when it hosts Travelers Rest.
CA Johnson and Columbia are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Irmo is looking for its first playoff win since 2012 when it travels to Berkeley.
Camden is looking for its first playoff victory since 2009 when they travel to Seneca.
North Central is looking for its first playoff win since 1998 when it hosts St. Joseph’s.
Dreher is looking for its first playoff win since 1994 when it defeated Cheraw. The Blue Devils travel to Myrtle Beach in first round of 4A playoffs.
Gray Collegiate is looking for its playoff win in school history. The War Eagles are 0-2 in their playoff history.
HAMMOND EYES ANOTHER TITLE BERTH
Hammond can earn a spot to another SCISA 3A state championship Friday with a win over rival Cardinal Newman.
The Skyhawks, who have won 23 in a row, will be seeking their 12th title appearance in 15 seasons. Hammond has won nine titles in that span.
Cardinal Newman hasn’t won a state title since 1990 when it was in the Palmetto Athletic Conference. The Cardinals have won seven games this season, their largest win total since 1998.
It will be the second time Hammond and Cardinal Newman are meeting this season. The two teams played on Oct. 19 with Hammond winning, 62-27.
NEWBERRY, FAIRFIELD CENTRAL BEGIN PLAYOFFS ON ROAD
Newberry and Fairfield Central have had their share of deep playoff runs in the past decade.
But the two 3A programs begin this postseason as underdogs and on the road. The Bulldogs will travel to Southside while the Griffins are at Pendleton.
Newberry hasn’t lost a first-round game since 2009 when it lost to Keenan. It also was 2009 since Fairfield lost in first round when Clinton defeated the Griffins.
MIDLANDS TOP 10
1. Dutch Fork (8-0); 2. Hammond (11-0); 3. River Bluff (8-1); 4. A.C. Flora (8-2); 5. Airport ( 7-3); 6. Spring Valley ( 7-3); 7. Blythewood (6-3); 8. Ridge View (6-3); 9. Gilbert (6-3); 10. BrooklandCayce (6-4)
River Bluff Gators running back Braden Walker runs for a big gain during the game between River Bluff and Gilbert High School.