Wardlaw Academy and Carolina Academy will meet for a second time, and for the Patriots, they hope the second verse is the same as the first.
Wardlaw Academy won the previous matchup at home, 60-30 on Oct. 19. In that game Malik Lee ran the ball 26 times for 280 yards and six touchdowns.
“Honestly, I think with good teams you expect to see them again,” Wardlaw Academy head coach Mark Rodgers said. “Coach (Thomas) Joye does a great job over there and has them playing fundamental football.”
Across the field, Carolina Academy’s Joye knows this will be a major challenge.
“Mark Rodgers has that team well coached,” he said. “Last time we didn’t even get off the bus.”
Joye also knows that with Wardlaw Academy comes Lee, who rushed for 326 yards and five touchdowns in the Patriots’ opening round playoff win against Charleston Collegiate.
“I think he is one of the very best in the state, no matter what you play,” Joye said. “He’s very evasive and we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
The Bobcats’ first-round playoff win over Coastal Prep Christian came with relative ease, 78-42. They were buoyed by Greg Beckham, who rushed for a whopping 500 yards on 32 carries and five touchdowns.
The difference in the teams’ first matchup was turnovers. Wardlaw Academy was able to force Carolina Academy into a multitude of mistakes, which the Patriots then turned into points.
“Turn the ball over and it will haunt you like a bad dream,” Rodgers said. “We were lucky there, but don’t expect it to happen again.”
The role of the underdog is one that Joye is perfectly content with.
“We know that when we play Wardlaw we have to bring out ‘A’ game and then some, and we also have to have some luck as well,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge that awaits after a good three hour drive or so.”
Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.
What: SCISA 8-Man playoffs
Who: Wardlaw (9-1) vs. Carolina (10-1)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Wardlaw beat Carolina 60-30 on Oct. 19