SUMTER — Wando played at Sumter on Friday night with both teams positioning themselves for the playoffs.
Sumter had seemingly clinched a first-round home game in the Class AAAA state playoffs with a win over Conway last Friday, only to find that might not be the case.
On Friday, the Gamecocks came away with a 24-12 win over Wando in the non-region contest to close out a 6-5 regular season, but head coach Reggie Kennedy was still unsure if his team would be at home for the opening round of the playoffs.
“I talked to the playoff committee and they said there are a lot of home (playoff game) scenarios out there,” Kennedy said.
“We’ll know here shortly, though. We have a general idea, but we really don’t know.”
With Wando finishing third, behind Goose Creek and Stratford, in Region 7-AAAA, Warriors head coach Jimmy Noonan knew his team’s playoff position would not change much.
“We’re in the playoffs. We’re third in our region,” Noonan said after his team ended the regular season at 4-7. “We know we will be on the road.”
Sumter took charge early as quarterback James Barnes turned what seemed to be a busted play into a 66-yard touchdown run. Vincent Watkins’ PAT put the Gamecocks up 7-0 with 5:44 left in the opening quarter.
Wando proved to be resilient with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that saw Kenny Waring rush nine times for 58 yards, including the final three for the score. Bobby Fayssoux’s PAT kick was short, leaving the Warriors trailing 7-6.
A fumble by Waring deep in Wando territory set up Sumter’s second score. The Gamecocks took over on the Warriors 27 and took six plays to get into the end zone, with Russell Jenkins running the final six yards.
Another turnover resulted in Sumter’s third score as North-South All-Star Game selection Erick Wright intercepted a Bailey Hart pass — one of three interceptions he would have on the night — and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 Gamecock lead.
“The name of the game tonight is turnovers,” Noonan said. “I think we played pretty well defensively, but offensively right there in the first half we gave them two cheap scores — a pick-six and fumble right down here deep in our own territory.”
Both teams added one score in the second half, with Wando putting six on the board after a 6-yard Nick Taylor run and Watkins connecting an a 32-yard field goal for Sumter.
After rushing 19 times for 79 yards in the opening half, Waring did not take the field in the second half.
“He’s ailing right now,” Noonan said of Waring. “He went as long and as hard as he could, and I’m proud of his effort, but he had to go out. So we’re playing a little sophomore (Kevin Brown) back there. He’s got a lot of potential.”