Class AAAA football playoffs begin Friday night

Pinewood Prep plays Hammond on Saturday in the SCISA AAA state championship game at Benedict College in Columbia. Roger Lee/Journal Scene

With the Class AAAA playoffs getting underway, high school football hits another level Friday night with nine area teams continuing their quests for state championships.

Last week saw the elimination of several area playoff teams, including a pair of region champions — Bishop England and Hanahan. Both of those teams were upset by fourth-place region finishers.

Here’s a preview of the playoff matchups that feature Lowcountry teams.

Spring Valley (6-5) at Fort Dorchester (11-0)

Fort Dorchester looks to continue the best season in school history and will host playoff games for as long as it remains in the chase. Spring Valley presents some challenges as an option-based team with very good playmakers at quarterback (Ryan Lee) and running back (Ty’Juan Fulton). Fulton has rushed for 1,205 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.

Fort Dorchester is averaging 47 points over its last six games behind arguably the state’s best offensive line.

Carolina Forest (5-6) at Goose Creek (7-3)

Goose Creek enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak and will once again be the favored team in a playoff opener. However, Goose Creek was favored in last year’s opening round and suffered an upset loss to 16th-seeded River Bluff.

Goose Creek senior quarterback Dominique Jefferson has been steady all season, totaling more than 1,000 yards rushing and passing. The Gators’ defense will be challenged by a Carolina Forest offense that features 1,000-yard rusher Dyverse Simmons and 1,000-yard passer Matt Beale. The visiting Panthers, however, have struggled on defense overall and the Gators should be able to find points.

Summerville (4-7) at Dutch Fork (8-3)

The Green Wave enter the playoffs with key injuries. The top two quarterbacks are injured, prompting head coach Joe Call to move the team’s leading receiver, Krishaon Jackson, under center. He played quarterback in the regular-season finale against Bluffton, a win.

Dutch Fork is the top seed in the Division I bracket and has played in the last two state title games. The Silver Foxes are led by senior quarterback Cole Douglas, the son of former Citadel great Jack Douglas. Cole has accounted for more than 2,500 total yards and 14 touchdowns.

Boiling Springs (6-5) at Ashley Ridge (9-1)

Two productive offenses will highlight this clash between 10th-seeded Boiling Springs and seventh seed Ashley Ridge. The quarterbacks of both teams — Mason Streater of Boiling Springs (2,600 total yards, 35 TDs) and Steven Duncan of Ashley Ridge (2,780 yards, 23 TDs) — are two of the more productive players in the state.

Dorman (8-3) at West Ashley (6-5)

West Ashley looks to cap its best season ever with its first playoff win in school history. The Wildcats are hosting a playoff game for the first time.

Dorman quarterback Collin Hill is one of the two quarterbacks selected to the South Carolina Shrine Bowl team and is a verbal commitment to Colorado State.

West Ashley will lean heavily on the area’s leading rusher — junior Dexter Freeman, who is six yards shy of 1,800 yards this season.

Cane Bay (6-5) at Westside (10-1)

Cane Bay makes the longest trip of any area team in the playoffs, visiting Westside High of Anderson. Westside has been ranked in the Class AAAA top 10 for most of this season, losing only to Greenwood.

Cane Bay is hoping its double-wing option attack is effective against a Westside defense that has not seen this type of offense all season.

Timberland (9-2) at Dillon (11-0)

These two teams have a great tradition of playoff battles in Class AA. Dillon owns the state’s longest active winning streak at 33 games and is seeking a fourth consecutive state title.

Timberland has won six straight games since losing to Berkeley and has outscored its last six opponents, 262-43.

Pinewood Prep (10-1) vs. Hammond (11-0)

Hammond is making its 10th consecutive appearance in the state championship game and has won seven of the last nine state titles. This is Pinewood Prep’s first title game appearance. Pinewood Prep was 0-10 two years ago. The championship game is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Benedict College’s Johnson Stadium in Columbia.

Colleton Prep (9-3) vs. Robert E. Lee (12-0)

Colleton Prep makes its third title appearance in five years, doing so under its fourth head coach in that span. Robert E. Lee has been ranked No. 1 in SCISA AA since the preseason. The game is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Johnson Stadium.

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