Saturday, November 22, 2008
High School Friday Nights: Ware Shoals and Abbeville fall, Dorman-Byrnes rematch set
It was a cold night down in Ware Shoals at Tommy Davis Field where the Ware Shoals Hornets hosted the Blue Devils of Williston-Elko for the Class A-II Upper State Championship. There was a big crowd despite the cold and a good many new faces from the media and law enforcement on hand for the game.
Though technically playing for the Upper State title, Williston-Elko, from the lower part of Aiken County and upper part of Barnwell County, plays in a lower state conference. The new playoff system for Division A put W-E in the upper state. Simply put, in the Class A division, the upstate has far fewer schools than the lower state and thus the talent and competition at that level is better in the lower state.
Apparently Coach Jeff Murdock and Ware Shoals realized that and scheduled bigger teams in the non conference part of their schedule to prepare for the more talented teams from the lower state in A football. Unfortunately, the Hornets came up short Friday night, falling 40-32.
Ware Shoals showed heart and had a tremendous performance on offense, including Darius Hawthorne's three touchdowns, 178 yards rushing and 73 yards receiving. Williston-Eiko's offense was running on all cylinders as well, as it as been all season. In Friday night's game, W-E came up with some new blocking schemes employing the tight end position. When two teams are clicking on all cylinders, mistakes make the difference. Ware Shoals simply could not overcome two interceptions and a blocked punt.
Williston-Elko will be denied their chance to avenge their only loss of the season as Scott's Branch defeated Blackville-Hilda, 24-22, setting up a match between W-E and Scott's Branch in Orangeburg for the Class A-II title next Friday afternoon.
The choice of South Carolina State University for the Class A title games looks to be a wise one as two other teams in the eastern part of South Carolina will face one another for the Class A-I title next Friday. Steve Tanneyhill's Chesterfield team will meet Carver's Bay for that title.
In Class AA, action, Woodruff downed Abbeville, 38-21, defying the conventional wisdom that a passing team can not defeat a running team in the playoffs. Woodruff's Jake Lambert threw for 313 yeards and three touchdowns as the Wolverines defeated previously undefeated Abbeville on Dennis Botts Field. Woodruff hosts Central next Friday night for the Upper State AA title.
In class AAA action, D.W. Daniel will host Chester for the upper state title next Friday, while Marlboro County hosts Myrtle Beach for the title. If D.W. Daniel wins the upper state, one can be assured that the lower state champion will not be happy with having to go to Clemson to play in D.W. Daniel's backyard. The very politically motivated move of the state championship games in AA and above to Clemson will likely face fierce criticism.
In AAAA-II action, the semi-finals will feature a surprising Laurens team having to travel down to South Pointe and an upper midlands regional match up with Lancaster traveling to Northwestern.
However, it is the Big Sixteen, or Class AAAA-I, where the big game will be next Friday. Two nationally ranked teams will square off for a rematch when James F. Byrnes travels to Dorman next Friday night. The power of the Byrnes program is legendary over the past few years. Pundits and fans alike heaped praises upon Byrnes as they took on big time foes from other states. Then, Byrnes lost to Dorman. After that, both teams rolled over their competition, setting up a semi-final rematch that seems more like a state championship game and makes the other semi-final match up involving Rock Hill at Sumter seem like an afterthought. Rumors are that some are trying to change the venue of the game from Dorman to Wofford College to better accommodate the large crowd expected. Wherever that game is played, VUI plans to be there.
Friday night was cold and mixed results for the VUI staff. Our favorites, Ware Shoals and Abbeville, lost. However, any high school football fan can not help but be excited about next week's showdown between Dorman and James F. Byrnes. That will be a game in which legends are made.