One area team won its state championship Friday, one ended its season with a loss and two more are still in the running for titles.
Wardlaw Academy (11-1) took home the SCISA 8-man championship by a 58-42 margin over St. John's Academy to claim back-to-back state titles in that division. North Augusta (9-4) saw its year come to a close on a last-ditch field goal that gave Greenwood the 34-32 win in the Class AAAA, Division II quarterfinals.
Strom Thurmond (12-1) won its Class AAA, Lower State semifinal 27-10 at Hanahan and will host the Lower State final this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Rebels' oppponent is Hartsville (13-0), a 40-13 winner over Socastee and the No. 1 team in the last Class AAA media poll.
Rebel head coach Lee Sawyer said he's glad to have the opportunity to face high-ranking foes back to back.
“It's kind of the position you want to be in really,” he said. “You're in that conversation this time of year.”
He also said that playing at home this week has even bigger advantages than usual, saying that former players CoCo Hillary, Matt Holmes and Tra'ves Bush are likely to be home for the Thanksgiving break.
“I think it's huge,” Sawyer said. “All your former players will be home for Thanksgiving. ... I've already gotten texts from them.”
The teams have two common opponents, with both having beaten Marlboro County and Swansea. Hartsville, the Region 6-AAA champion, beat Marlboro County in region play 34-14, and the Rebels knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoffs with a 31-13 defeat in the second round. Strom Thurmond, meanwhile, rolled over Swansea 42-7 in Region 5-AAA action before Hartsville ended the Tigers' season with a 49-36 second-round playoff loss.
The winner will head to Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia to face the Daniel-Union County winner on Dec. 1.
Silver Bluff (11-1) will also host a Lower State championship game in the Class AA, Division II bracket after its 14-13 victory over Bamberg-Ehrhardt.
That marked the second victory of the year over the Red Raiders, and Silver Bluff head coach Al Lown said his coaching staff knew before the season the first win over Bamberg-Ehrhardt could set up an all-home path to the state championship game.
“So we knew how big that was way back then,” he said. “It's nice not to have to get on that bus.”
The top-seeded Bulldogs will play the No. 2 seed in the Lower State, Bishop England (11-1). The Bulldogs and Battling Bishops have no common opponents this season, and visitors' lone loss came to Hanahan while Silver Bluff's lone loss came to Strom Thurmond.
Lown said that Silver Bluff has become very familiar with Bishop England athletics, having encountered the Battling Bishops in the playoffs in softball, baseball, soccer and, more recently, football.
“They're a first class organization, and they really have elevated their football team in the last couple years,” he said.
The winner will face the Chesnee-Abbeville winner on Nov. 30 at Benedict College.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
This Week's Games
Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Class AAA Lower State Final
Hartsville (13-0) at Strom Thurmond (12-1)
Class AA, Division II Lower State Final
Bishop England (11-1) at Silver Bluff (11-1)