Scientists return to study whales

For the next five months, EcoHealth Alliance researchers will observe North Atlantic right whales as they migrate down the Southeastern coast.

It's not every day you see a No. 11 seed vs. a No. 14 seed in the second round of the Division I-AAAA football playoffs. But as Wando coach Jimmy Noonan points out, a high school football game can be a fragile thing. A missed play here and a missed play there can make all the difference in the world.

No. 14 Blythewood stunned No. 3 seed Lexington, 32-28, last week and No. 11 Wando simply outplayed No. 6 Spartanburg in a 21-7 decision.

That sets up Friday's second-round game as Blythewood travels to the Lowcountry for a 7:30 p.m. showdown.

Wando's victory over Spartanburg was put in motion the last week of the regular season when the Warriors topped Stratford, 22-7. The strong performance snapped a three-game skid and gave the Warriors the confidence they needed for the playoffs.

"Our guys, it's been a long time since we closed out the regular season with a win," coach Jimmy Noonan said. "Momentum: You are either riding it or hoping it will turn your way. The victory at Stratford was a huge boost for our guys. It rejuvenated us and made our practices crisp, which is what you need in the playoffs. We went into the Spartanburg game with confidence."

The Warriors are still alive thanks to their defense. Yes, Micah Kinloch did have a 55-yard TD pass from Josh Walker on the first possession of the game against the Vikings. And yes, Walker ripped off an 81-yard TD run on the second possession. But you win with defense, and the Warriors held the home team to minus-21 yards in the second half.

Blythewood is only 6-6 on the season, but Noonan said the Bengals were the better team on the gridiron against previously undefeated Lexington.

The Wildcats held a 28-17 lead in the third quarter, but the Bengals scored the final 15 points, including a touchdown with just over a minute left in the game.

"Blythewood is a very, very good football team," Noonan said. "Our goal is to win. What we have to remember is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to work hard and be patient."

Hester signs

Stratford right-handed pitcher Brandon Hester made it official Tuesday when he signed a scholarship to play for the two-time national champion South Carolina Gamecocks.

Hester is 6-7 and throws four pitches: fastball, change-up, curve and slider. He's hit 88 mph with his fastball. He was All-Lowcountry and all-state as a junior.

He also played for the Diamond Devils 17-U team over the summer and pitched a six-hitter with seven strikeouts to lead the Diamond Devils to a 4-2 win over the New York Scout 18-U Team in the national championship game of the CABA 18-U Wooden Bat World Series.

Wando scholarships

Wando had six student- athletes sign athletic scholarships on Tuesday.

In volleyball, Catie Hurt signed with Charleston Southern University, Carson Gosnell inked with The Citadel, Mia Stemke signed with Wofford and Tinsley Hallman signed with Gardner-Webb.

In golf, Jackson Moore signed with the College of Charleston and Christian Sease signed with Winthrop.

Follow Phil Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil. Reach him at pbowman@postandcourier.com or 937-5592.