Most area fans will have to hop in their cars for a road trip this week. Six teams are on the road, and the only game in Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties is at Lakeside. The Panthers are playing host to their second consecutive state playoff game, this time against powerful Westside-Macon.
FLYING HIGH: Wardlaw Academy quarterback Stephen Balentine's staggering numbers in the SCISA 8-man title game are worth repeating: 654 yards of total offense, 10 touchdowns. Both marks were among several school records he set.
Wardlaw ended its state-title season with a 23-game winning streak.
GISA TEAMS SURGING: Area teams make up half of the Class A and AA GISA semifinals. Edmund Burke, Brentwood, Thomas Jefferson and Briarwood all won in the quarterfinals last week.
All but Briarwood play at home this week, keeping alive the opportunity for a pair of all-area state finals. Briarwood plays at defending champion Terrell, which defeated Thomas Jefferson 61-26 in the final a season ago.
BIG GAMES THIS WEEK
7:30 P.M. FRIDAY
CLASS AA SECOND ROUND
Thomasville (8-3) at Jefferson County (11-0): All 10 of the Warriors' playoff appearances since the school opened in 1995 have ended before or at this point. Once again, the second round appears difficult. Thomasville owns a win over Class AAAA Thomas County Central and blasted Henry County 37-0 in the first round.
CLASS AAAA SECOND ROUND
Westside-Macon (10-1) at Lakeside (10-1): The Panthers, fresh off their first state playoff win in school history, face one of the best teams in the bracket. Lakeside has beaten its past four opponents by a combined 136-0.
Richmond Academy (8-3) at Thomas County Central (10-1): Richmond Academy, two years removed from a 17-game skid, is one of the last 16 teams in its classification playing football. Both teams toughed out first-round wins by a touchdown.
CLASS AAAA, DIVISION II QUARTERFINALS
North Augusta (11-1) at Goose Creek (9-3): Fifth-seeded North Augusta should be motivated that it is not playing this game at home despite an 11-1 record, with only a single competitive loss to one of the state's best teams. Goose Creek is the fourth seed.
CLASS AA QUARTERFINALS
Strom Thurmond (10-2) at Central-Pageland (9-3): A rematch of one of 2008's best games, won 12-7 by Central. Strom Thurmond has won its first two playoff games this year by at least three TDs.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org