The Timberland Wolves got over the hump last weekend with a dramatic victory over their Class AA nemesis Dillon. Tonight, they will try to reach the top of the mountain.
Timberland goes after its first state championship when it battles the Woodruff Wolverines in the Division I-AA title game at Benedict College's Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m.
Dillon had beaten Timberland in the playoffs for three straight years, but that streak ended last weekend when the Wolves won with an 18-15 decision. Alex Krall kicked the game-winning 41-yard field goal with just 10 seconds left to give Timberland a 13-1 record and its second appearance in the title game. Blythewood defeated Timberland, 23-21, on a last-second field goal in the Class AAA title game in 2006.
"We're very fortunate to have beaten Dillon. But we also know there is another game and 48 minutes to play," Timberland coach Craig said. "It was an emotional win, but we have a big challenge."
Woodruff enters with a 13-0 record. The Wolverines reached the title game with a 41-34 victory over Strom Thurmond.
Timberland has four players who were selected to play in postseason high school all-star games.
Offensive lineman Bobby McNeil and linebacker Daquan Lucas were picked to play in the Shrine Bowl, while defensive back Lee Mayes and defensive lineman James Middleton were selected to play in the North-South Game.
Woodruff coach Brian Lane said Timberland presents a huge challenge for his team.
"You put in the video and see what they have over there, and that quickly puts you in perspective of how they can beat a team like Dillon," Lane said. "Their quarterback (Taylor Elizondo) plays like a lion. They have the Green Bay Packers up front. They have big kids. They play hard and show you multiple formations offensively. They fly around on defense."
Timberland's only loss was a 17-3 decision to Bishop England. It was the turning point of the season. Craig said his team regained its focus after Bishop England ended its 34-game region winning streak that dated back to 2004.
The loss also ended a 43-game regular season winning streak dating back to 2007.
"When we lost to Bishop England, our kids started coming in every Sunday after that and doing things on their own to get better," Craig said. "I don't think there is ever a good loss, but it taught us a lesson."
Timberland has a good mix on offense. Elizondo has completed 69 of 133 passes for 1,062 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's added 465 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Classe Thompson and Lucas have both rushed for more than 800 yards and have scored 18 touchdowns apiece.
Woodruff has a standout running back in Shun Tribble, who has rushed for 1,232 yards and 21 touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Perkins has completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,104 yards and 37 touchdowns.