By Thomas Grant Jr.
It’s Week Two of the South Carolina high school football playoffs.
Seven teams remain in the hunt for state titles. In the case of Northside Christian Academy, it’s one victory away from reaching the SCISA final for the first time since 2017.
The Crusaders held off Colleton Prep 33-28 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. Running back Sam Burks rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns and Jefferson McCallum was 12-14 passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Northside Christian Academy (6-4) now heads to Savannah, Ga. for a Friday semifinal matchup with Bethesda Academy. It’s a rematch from the regular season
The victory sends them to the SCISA Class 2A semifinals. It’s their first semifinal appearance since 2017.
Northside Christian travels to Savannah, Ga. to face undefeated Bethesda Academy. The two teams met during the regular season on Oct. 13 in Lexington with the Blazers winning 40-0.
Quarterback Triston Randall threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns and Noah Jenkins rushed for 117 yards and a score for Bethesda Academy.
The winner faces defending champion Williamsburg Academy or Beaufort Academy in the state final at noon Nov. 18 at Charleston Southern University in Charleston.
In the South Carolina High School League, four of the six remaining Lake Murray teams are at home.
Undefeated White Knoll looks to continue its historic season in the Class 5A playoffs against Fort Dorchester. The Timberwolves (11-0). Quarterback Landon Sharpe accounted for all four touchdowns, three passing and one rushing, and finished with 239 passing yards.
On defense, White Knoll forced three turnovers, Connor Burgess had 10 tackles and Demenico Banks had 8.5 tackles.
On the other side of Lake Murray, unbeaten Irmo (11-0) faces Myrtle Beach in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs at W.C. Hawkins Stadium. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a record-setting performance in an 85-0 victory over Colleton County.
Quarterback A.J. Brand was 16-19 for 277 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He now has 57 touchdowns on the season.
Running back Jaden Allen-Hendrix rushed for 133 yards and four touchdowns and Donovan Murph had four receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
The defense has posted five shutouts this season and are holding opponents to five points per game.
Irmo’s other team, defending Class 5A champion Dutch Fork, is on the road for the second round. The Silver Foxes face T.L. Hanna as the two teams meet for the third time in the past six seasons.
Dutch Fork won both meetings in the 2018 and 2019 state finals. It (6-5) has won 17 consecutive road playoff games and are 17-2 under head coach Tom Knotts.
Over at Fort Knox, Brookland-Cayce (9-2) plays host to Phillip Simmons in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. The Bearcats are coming off a 42-20 victory behind 254 yards and two touchdowns from De’Shaun Washington and 114 rushing yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Will Young.
In Class 2A, Gray Collegiate Academy will play its second playoff game on-campus in school history against Chesnee.
The War Eagles (11-0) are coming off 62-0 win over Pelion. Running back Caleb Ford had 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the victory.
The Eagles of Chesnee are coming off a 21-10 win over Batesburg-Leesville. Austin Bigford rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns and Kijay Proctor threw for 144 yards and a 46-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Kaylob Blanton to end the first half.
The other Class 2A Upper State matchup has Newberry traveling to Abbeville. The Bulldogs are coming off a 24-15 victory over Saluda behind two touchdowns from Kenton Caldwell.
First Round Gridiron Giants
Amadre Wooden (Batesburg-Leesville) – 113 rushing yards
Jon Hunt (Dutch Fork) – 201 passing yards, three touchdowns
Maurice Anderson (Dutch Fork) – 96 rushing yards, two touchdowns
Raleigh Salters (Dutch Fork) – seven tackles
Josh Smith (Dutch Fork) – three sacks
Trevon Williamson (Gilbert) – 201 rushing yards, three touchdowns
Drake Braddock (Gilbert) – 237 passing yards, three touchdowns
Aaron Griffin (River Bluff) – 10 receptions, 110 yards
Griffin Linder (River Bluff) – 11 ½ tackles
Photo by Northside Christian Academy – Northside Christian Academy seniors Dane Sundell, Gavin Ford, Ian McLellan and Isaiah Beckwith