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Williston-Elko returns to state football playoffs

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Williston-Elko has reached the state finals each of the past three years. The journey back to the title game begins Friday night, with the first round of the Class A Division I state playoffs.

The Blue Devils (8-2) closed the regular season with eight consecutive wins, including a perfect trip through the Region 4-A schedule. The first step of getting back to the state finals will include a team they beat earlier this season, Ridge Spring-Monetta, at home in the first round.

The Trojans (3-7) lost four of their first five games, including a 52-6 decision against Williston-Elko. They managed back-to-back wins over North and Denmark-Olar to finish with a region mark of 2-6.

“Ridge Spring is one of those teams you could see getting better as the season went on,” Williston-Elko coach Dwayne Garrick said. “They’re not the same team as they were when we played them early in the season.”

WILD CARD: One other region opponent might have Williston-Elko worried. Blackville-Hilda started the season at 0-4 but has since won four of five games, including a 41-34 upset of Calhoun County to end the regular season.

The Fighting Hawks (5-5) earned the No. 4 seed and a home game this week. They will play fifth-seeded Lake View (5-5) in the first round of the Class A Division I playoffs.

Fox Creek (8-2) will try for a school-record ninth win when the Predators play host to Southside Christian in the Nos. 4-5 matchup in the upper state bracket.

RESTING: Silver Bluff and Strom Thurmond will enjoy first-round byes this week in the Class AA state playoffs. No. 3 Silver Bluff will face the winner of No. 11 Aynor at No. 6 Garrett, while second-seeded Strom Thurmond will play the No. 10 Broome at No. 7 Keenan winner.

Eighth-seeded Barnwell will play host to No. 9 Waccamaw in the first round of the Class AA Division II bracket. The winner will go on the road next week to face top-seeded Bishop England.

REGION WRAP: Aiken County’s three largest schools have one more week of regular-season action before the Class AAAA state playoffs begin. North Augusta (9-1, 3-1 Region 5-AAAA) will wrap up the season with a home game against Orangeburg-Wilkinson (4-6, 1-3), and Aiken (3-7, 1-3) will play crosstown rival South Aiken (2-8, 0-4).

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