This is one of my favorite times of the year. Games that matter. Games that have a purpose. Games that lead you in a certain direction. Games that add to the trophy case. And that is exactly what we have in front of us tonight at Hite Stadium – Dennis Botts Field. The undefeated and 5th ranked Southside Christian Sabers (8-0) make the trek down from Greenville County to take on our #1 ranked, back to back defending state champion Abbeville Panthers. Call it what you want, but the Region 2 AA championship is on the line tonight in a winner take all showdown. Let’s see how the teams stack up against each other.
Southside Christian has historically been a 1A team. The last round of realignments bumped them into the 2A ranks and landed them in the region shared by Abbeville, Ninety Six and Liberty. Since there are only four football playing schools, it only takes a couple of weeks to find out how the region seeding’s will unfold. Abbeville defeated Liberty (26-13) last week, and Southside Christian defeated Ninety Six (31-6). That sets up tonight’s match-up, the only two undefeated region opponents left. Call it a winner take all, call it the fight for first, call it what you will, but tonight’s game has huge playoff implications.
SSC runs a spread offense and they like to throw it around the park. Quarterback JW Hertzberg has 1,307 yards passing and 17 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. The 6’3″ sophomore QB has some help in the run game as well. Anthony McFadden and Mallory Pickney are both fast and effective ball carriers. McFadden is a transfer from 5A Hillcrest High in Simpsonville. Both running backs have over 400 yards and they have combined for 21 rushing touchdowns on the season. You won’t see SSC under center on the night. Three, four or five wide receivers will be their base offense and they will try to test the A-Town secondary. SSC’s average score for the season is 43.6 while giving up 9.5 points per game.
The boys in Garnet are ready to go trophy chasing again. The Panthers could secure their 26th region championship with a win tonight and a Ninety Six loss. The Panthers defeated Liberty last week in a very business like fashion. There was not a lot of glitz and glamor within that game. Some spectators even suggested that the Panthers were flat, or looked as if they were just going through the motions. It’s going to take more than just going through the motions to get a win tonight. A championship is on the line, and the players and the crowd should be at full throttle come game time. The Panthers will do what they do. A steady dose of the run game, and some play action will stretch the SSC defense. Does SSC have the athletes to hang with A-Town? They think they do. SSC is coming into the game with a “disrespect” chip on their shoulder. Social media posts even suggest that SSC is calling tonight’s trip into Hite Stadium a “#statementgame”. So who will make the statement tonight? Will SSC bring more energy and just want it more? Or will the Panthers prove once again that the road to the state championship runs through A-Town? We’ll find out soon. Kickoff is at 7:30.
God Bless and Go Panthers!