Jiaquell James (8) and Lamar face off against Wagener-Salley on Friday for a spot in the Class A upper state championship.

FLORENCE, S.C. — Lamar High School likes to rely on its running game a lot. So does Wagener-Salley.

The Silver Foxes are big and physical up front on the offensive line. So are the War Eagles.

An athletic, stifling defense? Check marks for both as well.

So it’s strength vs. strength Friday at 7:30 p.m. as the Silver Foxes (10-2) travel to Aiken County to face top-ranked and undefeated Wagener-Salley (11-0) for a spot in the Class A upper state title game.

The two teams on paper are near mirror images of each other, and LHS coach Chad Wilkes said the game plan for each team is pretty simple.

“We want to run the football, they want to run the football,” he said. “I think that’s what it’s going to come down to is who can do what they do better. I don’t think either one of us is going to try and reinvent the wheel for this game.”

Who has the advantage in that department remains to be seen. Neither team has played any common opponents this season, and the War Eagles’ two biggest victories to date are likely over Blackville-Hilda (9-2) and Ridge Spring-Monetta (8-4).

The Silver Foxes have beaten Cheraw (8-5), Lake View (9-4) and fell three points shy of beating Gray Collegiate (10-2).

“We’re basically scoring about the same amount of points per game (49.6 to 47.7),” Wilkes said. “They play mostly upper state teams, and even though we’re in the upper state (bracket), we’ve mostly played against teams in the lower state.

“So no real common opponents, so it’s hard to get a gauge on things like that.”

The numbers in the run game speak for themselves. Kevin Jackson’s 1,120 yards and 14 TDs lead a list of six players for WSHS that have 200 or more yards rushing this season. Cam Davis (575), Kaleb Shaw (477) and Ethan Stroman (430) have combined for 21 more scores.

As with Lamar, it all begins up front as the War Eagles boast five linemen 200 pounds or better, and a pair that are over 300 pounds (Jamari Stroman & Jakobe Schofield).

“Central had big linebackers and defensive backs, but as far as across the line, they’re the biggest team we’ve faced this year,” Wilkes said. “Usually we’re the bigger team, so it’s a rare to play a team that’s bigger than us.

“But they’re 11-0 for a reason and they use those big boys and they do a great job. It’s our job to find a way to match that toughness and physicality.”

The WSHS defense has also had a stellar year after allowing an average of just 7.1 points per game. The War Eagles have forced 36 turnovers and held opponents to well below 100 yards rushing per game.

But the Silver Foxes’ likely have the best ground attack they’ve seen all year. Cam Galloway, Rashad Johnson, Dajour Green and Jiaquell James have combined for 2,333 yards and 35 touchdowns.

“For us in this particular game, we’re not going to out-physical them,” Wilkes said. “We have to go out and execute and our jobs, which we’re plenty capable of, and we feel like if we do that we’ll have a good chance to win.

“I’m sure they feel the same way.”

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