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South Aiken T-Breds middle linebacker Tracey Gamble, Jr. (99) celebrates after a sack during a high school football game against the Airport Eagles at South Aiken High School in Aiken.

High school football’s second season begins tonight.

Nine area high school teams have qualified for the South Carolina High School League playoffs. The hard work of offseason workouts, summer practices and scrimmages, and the regular season games have paid off.

It was another successful year for area programs. Five teams ended the season ranked among the best teams in their classifications, and two – Barnwell and Wagener-Salley – ended the year undefeated and as region champions.

Wagener-Salley is ranked No. 1 in Class A, a spot it has maintained for more than a month. The War Eagles, like Blackville-Hilda, have a bye this week.

Barnwell is ranked No. 2 in Class AA behind powerhouse Abbeville. The Warhorses take on Hannah-Pamplico in the first round.

Fox Creek, after a come-from-behind win against Silver Bluff, made the playoffs out of a difficult region. The Predators will travel to Gray Collegiate tonight.

Ridge Spring-Monetta will get a home playoff game at its new stadium. The Trojans take on Great Falls in a game that will be streamed online at

In Class AAAA, two Aiken County teams made the playoffs. South Aiken is on the road at Hartsville, while North Augusta plays host to North Myrtle Beach.

Strom Thurmond is at home tonight against Battery Creek, and Williston-Elko hits the road to play at McCormick.

The second season allows players the chance to get in more practice and for coaches to evaluate their players even further. For some seniors, this will be the final time they suit up in full pads and helmet.

The playoffs will culminate next month in Columbia with championship games for the five classifications. Class A and Class AA will be played on the Benedict College campus on Friday, Dec. 6, and the Class AAA, Class AAAA and Class AAAAA games will be played at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 7.

While local schools have won plenty of football titles through the years, it’s been a while since one went all the way.

Let’s hope our area teams are among the representatives a month from now and can bring home the big trophy.