Playoff football is here, at least for the state’s smaller three classes.
Starting tonight, teams like Myrtle Beach will officially begin their postseason quest to repeat as state champions, while squads like Georgetown and Waccamaw are hoping to start new November traditions.
It’s crazy to think that it was 11 weeks ago that the 2014 season started. But it’s not over yet.
If all goes well for area teams, we could have as much as five more weeks of high school football on the Grand Strand.
Constant updates for many of tonight’s games can be found on Twitter. Max McKinnon is covering the Conway-Carolina Forest rivalry. Alan Blondin will be at Wade Hampton-Loris. Shane Bowen is on his way to Gilbert-Myrtle Beach. And yours truly is at Midland Valley-North Myrtle Beach.
On to some predictions...
PLAYOFFS FIRST-ROUND GAMES
No. 6 Wade Hampton (4-6) at No. 3 Loris (9-1) - The Lions may not win a state championship this season; especially with a loaded Dillon team sharing a playoff bracket. But that doesn’t mean Loris can’t win another game or two first. The Lions will be heavily favored to win this game and get to double digits in the win column for the first time since 2000. Loris 38, Wade Hampton 10
No. 5 Waccamaw (5-5) at No. 4 Lake Marion (6-4) - This game was close to being played at Waccamaw, but the alternating SCHSL seeding process for Class AA gave Lake Marion the advantage. It could end up being the difference for these two programs on the upswing. Lake Marion 31, Waccamaw 27
No. 8 Aynor (5-5) at No. 1 Dillon (10-0) - Aynor wasn’t exactly rewarded with any sort of soft playoff seeding. The Blue Jackets will play the most dominant team in its own region to kick things off, and this could have the makings of a game that gets out of hand fast if Aynor doesn’t play the game of the season. Dillon 44, Aynor 16
No. 4 Gilbert (5-5) at No. 1 Myrtle Beach (9-1) - Gilbert’s best chance at pulling what would be a big first-round upset is for Jakayus Leaphart to have a massive game. The running back has already rushed for 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns. Still, he could be successful without necessarily leading the Indians to a win. Gilbert has allowed some large point totals against offenses that aren’t in the same category as the Seahawks. Myrtle Beach 51, Gilbert 21
No. 3 Midland Valley (6-4) at No. 2 North Myrtle Beach (4-6) - Midland Valley is going to spend around 4 hours on a bus on Friday before playing a road game in what should be a well-attended playoff atmosphere. And after the Chiefs’ defense had the game of its season last week, it’s not hard to imagine a North Myrtle Beach win here. North Myrtle Beach 24, Midland Valley 20
No. 3 Georgetown (7-3) at No. 2 Airport (5-5) - Bradley Adams wasn’t just adding fluff to the conversation when he said going on the road wasn’t a bad thing. The Bulldogs are 4-1 away from home this season (with the loss coming by one point in overtime) and are 14-12 on the road in Adams’ five years. Some of those season were a little thin otherwise, but the Bulldogs certainly aren’t this year. Georgetown 28, Airport 25
WEEK 11 REGULAR SEASON (CLASS AAAA)
Conway (2-8, 1-3) at Carolina Forest (2-8, 0-4) - This one has the makings of a high-scoring affair between a couple of offenses that have put up some respectable point totals while not always being on queue on defense. The squads have combined to score at least 50 points in this game each of the last two years, and coming close to doubling that wouldn’t be shocking this time. Conway 46, Carolina Forest 38
Socastee (7-3, 2-2) at Sumter (6-4, 3-1) - The Braves have everything to play for, even though it looks like they may have enough points to qualify for the playoffs as an at-large team. However, if Socastee wins this game, it can take all the late-night math and guessing out of the equation. This one could turn out to be the team’s most physical game of the year. Socastee 17, Sumter 16
LAST WEEK: 6-2
For the football junkies hanging around, here’s some links to this week’s coverage:
North Myrtle Beach sophomore Ronnie Bass is carving out his own storyline after growing up with a famous father.
Our Football Friday page includes our Game of the Week breakdown on Midland Valley-North Myrtle Beach, capsules for all of this week's playoff and regular-season games, a Player to Watch, area stats leaders and area rankings.
Some of last week's wackiness in Region VII-AAA led to a major shake-up in who earned a home game.
Myrtle Beach and Loris remain the only two ranked teams in the final statewide polls of the regular season.