After an opening week of the state playoffs that saw four area high school football teams lose in their postseason openers and two more miss the playoffs, Friday night brought stability.
All four squads from the Aiken County area won their games – North Augusta, Silver Bluff, Strom Thurmond and Wardlaw Academy – and advanced to the next round.
North Augusta (9-3), the lone local representative in the Class AAAA, Division II playoffs, won its opener over Nation Ford (7-5) by a score of 43-29 and will now hit the road to play Greenwood (12-0) on Friday. The two squads scrimmage each other frequently, but the Eagles won the last official meeting between the two 34-21 in the semifinals of the 2010 Class AAAA, Division II playoffs.
Silver Bluff (10-1) made good use of its bye week in the Class AA, Division II playoffs by beating Barnwell (5-7) again. After requiring overtime for their first win over the Warhorses in Week 10, the Bulldogs tossed a 17-0 shutout to set up another rematch at home, this time with Bamberg-Ehrhardt (10-1). The Red Raiders led the Bulldogs late in the fourth quarter in Petticoat Junction on Sept. 28 before a late turnover and a Pedro Zambrano field goal gave Silver Bluff the 31-29 win.
Strom Thurmond (11-1) continued its roll through Class AAA competition with a 31-13 win over Marlboro County (8-4) to set up a big-time showdown in the third round of the playoffs. The Rebels will hit the road this time to play Region 8 champion Hanahan (11-1). The teams had a similar results against common opponent Hilton Head – Strom Thurmond won 63-20, Hanahan 63-28 – and Strom Thurmond won the last meeting between the two 32-12 in 1980.
Wardlaw Academy (10-1) clinched a berth in the SCISA 8-man championship game with its 34-20 win over Carolina Academy and will play St. John’s Christian for the title this week. The teams did not play this year, but they did knock off each other’s only loss of the season when the Patriots beat Carolina Academy on Friday and the Cavaliers beat W.W. King Academy. The two teams will meet on Friday at 7 p.m. at Calhoun County.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.