North Augusta in, South Aiken out of Class AAAA playoffs

The final pieces of the high school football postseason puzzle fell into place Saturday morning, when the South Carolina High School League released the brackets for the Class AAAA playoffs. As expected after Friday night’s regular-season finales, North Augusta got in and South Aiken came up just short of qualifying for the Class AAAA, Division II postseason.

The Yellow Jackets (8-3, 4-1 Region 5-AAAA) actually lost Friday, falling to Dutch Fork, 28-21. But their overall excellence throughout the course of the season was rewarded as they were tabbed as the No. 6 seed and will open the playoffs with a home game next Friday against 11th-seeded Nation Ford. The loss to Dutch Fork did hurt North Augusta, which would’ve been placed higher – the No. 4 seed – with a win and will likely have to go on the road in the second round, if it’s able to defeat Nation Ford. Should the top seeds prevail, North Augusta will go to Greenwood on Nov. 16, the place where the Yellow Jackets’ season ended in the third round of the 2010 playoffs.

“I’m happy to be in the playoffs and happy we got a home game,” said North Augusta head coach Dan Pippin, who led his team to the postseason for the sixth year in a row. “I can remember when just making the playoffs was a big deal. But just making the playoffs isn’t enough anymore.”

South Aiken (2-9, 2-3) closed its season with a rousing 28-21 victory over crosstown rival Aiken High, which missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season. In spite of the win, the Thoroughbreds’ struggles over the course of the 2012 campaign ultimately prevented them from postseason play for the third consecutive season. But the challenging season ended on a high note for South Aiken. Friday’s win snapped a four-game skid against the Hornets and was the T-Breds’ second region victory of the season, two more than they had previously posted since returning to Class AAAA in the realignment prior to the 2010 season.

“I hope last night’s win will spring board us into the offseason,” South Aiken head coach Jeremy West said after learning his team’s postseason fate.