FLORENCE — It’s that time of year when coaches rev up their teams’ playoff drives.
Whatever bumps in the road will play themselves out during the next few weeks as several SCHSL and SCISA teams in the Pee Dee begin their chase for state championships.
The SCISA state finals are Nov. 23 at Benedict College’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. As for the SCHSL, their finals are Dec. 6 (Classes A and 2A at Benedict) and Dec. 7 at Columbia’s Williams-Brice Stadium (Classes 3A through 5A).
“This is the time of the year when you’re excited to play, and you just want to keep playing,” said West Florence coach Jody Jenerette, whose Knights open their Class 5A playoffs Friday night at 7:30 at Berkeley. “We’re bringing a bunch of JV players up. This is what it’s all about, and you don’t want it to end.”
While South Florence plays in 5A at Goose Creek, Wilson will travel in 4A to Hilton Head Island. But according to Tigers coach Derek Howard, he treated his team’s 28-13 victory over Marlboro County as the postseason to get his team into gear.
“We consider this last game a playoff game, so now we’re going into Week 2 of our playoff run. We’re excited,” Howard said. “I think we’ve been in the playoffs every year since I’ve been here. Last year, we won our first playoff game, and we’re looking to kind of improve upon that.”
And although the Tigers are seeded third from Region 6-4A, Howard warns skeptics about counting the Tigers out.
“I haven’t made any qualms about saying that I think we’re one of the best teams in the state of South Carolina, so I anticipate us going pretty far in the playoffs,” Howard said. “We just need to play our brand of football and take it one game at a time.”
While Hartsville will host South Aiken in the first round of the 4A playoffs, Marlboro County received an at-large bid and will play at Lower Richland.
Last year’s SCHSL state runners-up, Dillon (3A) and Lamar (1A), are also back on the playoff road. Dillon hosts Waccamaw in Friday’s first round, and the Silver Foxes have a first-round bye.
Meanwhile, in SCISA, Florence Christian is the lone area football program defending a state crown as the Eagles won it all last year in Class 2A. Coach Neil Minton’s Eagles host Hilton Head Prep at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
And Pee Dee Academy, last year’s SCISA Class A state runner-up, will host Dorchester Academy at the same time.