Barnwell has been here before. The Warhorses have played in the Class AA Lower State championship game in each of the past three years. The only difference this time is the opponent isn't one of the traditional names Class AA fans have come to expect.
Barnwell will take on Oceanside Collegiate for the first time in the program's history on Friday night. The winner will earn a spot in the Class AA state championship game next Friday night at Charles W. Johnson stadium in Columbia.
Barnwell will rely on its experience as one of the difference makers. The Warhorses' senior class has played in multiple big games over the span of the past four years. They have a 50-5 overall record during that stretch, which includes a state runner-up finish last season.
"This crowd right here is pretty special. This will be the fourth year we've played for the Lower State championship," head coach Dwayne Garrick said. "I think this year these guys are hungry to try to get back to the state championship."
Garrick is expecting a challenge from the Landsharks, who have put up big numbers on the offensive side of the ball.
Running back Keegan Williams has 38 rushing touchdowns and 2,185 yards on 233 carries. He ran for 383 yards and five touchdowns in the third-round victory against Woodland.
"Obviously we've got a tough task ahead of us. Oceanside is a good team, which it should be when you get down to the final four," Garrick said.
Oceanside hasn't only found success running the ball. Quarterback Sean Cooney has passed for 2,706 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. Most of those have gone to leading receiver Walker Rhue.
Despite it being one of the toughest offenses the Warhorses have seen all season, they don't plan to change much. Barnwell has been one of the best defenses in the area this year, holding opponents to nine points per game this season and has only allowed 25 points through three postseason games.
"They sling it around and hand it off to (Williams), who's a good back," Garrick said. "We're going to play the same type of defense we've played all year. We're not going to do anything drastic or make a bunch of changes. We're going to show up and play."
Barnwell has its own powerful offense with several playmakers. One of those is junior running back Jamari Chisolm, who has 1,960 total offensive yards and 36 total touchdowns.
"He's just a good player with good vision. He does a great job running inside and outside and catches the ball really well," Garrick said. "I expect him to play well Friday night."
Barnwell can also turn to quarterback Craig Pender and receiver Dallyon Creech for big plays. Pender has more than 2,000 yards passing. Five different Warhorses have more than 20 receptions this season. Creech leads the team in receiving yardage with 586 yards and has rushed for another 617 yards.
"We have to show up and play on Friday, not turn it over and do things the right way and hope for the best," Garrick said.