North Augusta puts undefeated regular season in the past

NORTH AUGUSTA — North Augusta took a second last week to appreciate its regular-season accomplishment.

 

The Yellow Jackets routed their final region opponent this past Friday to enter the playoffs at 10-0. It marked their first undefeated regular season in 55 years.

Coach Brian Thomas and his players talked about the run after beating Aiken last week, but they’ve quickly put it behind them. The ultimate goal is still in front.

“We’re excited about that, but it’s over,” Thomas said. “It’s on to the next season now. Everybody is undefeated now. It only takes one loss and we’ve talked about that, too. We have to go out and execute.”

Thomas said his players understand the situation and are looking forward, not behind. A tight-knit group has produced the necessary chemistry to help North Augusta’s players grasp what they’ve accomplished but what still remains.

“We just have to keep it moving into the postseason,” senior defensive lineman Jules Williams said. “We come out here and practice every day and put that in the past. We talk about what we have to do at practice to get ready to win.”

No. 4 North Augusta will look to continue its undefeated streak into a first-round matchup Friday night against Westwood at the Jackets Nest. The Class AAAA playoff contest starts at 7:30 p.m.

No. 8 South Aiken enters as a two seed and will play host to Ridge View in the first round of Class AAAA, while Midland Valley travels to defending state champion South Pointe.

North Augusta is aiming for its first deep playoff run since reaching the semifinals in 2013. This year’s senior-laden group could provide the necessary pieces to make that happen.

Seniors Landon Washington, Derius Gibson and DeJuan Bell have led one of the most productive offenses in the state, averaging almost 41 points per game. Washington and Bell have a strong connection through the air, while Gibson has been the punishing complement on the ground.

The offensive line has given the offense room to show off its speed and skill to create a formula for success. The Yellow Jackets will again turn to it against battle-tested Westwood, which is 5-5 and a No. 4 seed but suffered losses within a tough region.

Thomas said to expect a Westwood team that’s physical and athletic. Shoring up any defensive lapses from last week has been a focal point for the Yellow Jackets.

“We definitely have a lot of confidence right now, especially because we have our starters back,” senior offensive lineman Sam Bryant said. “This is the third season, the new season.”

In Class AAA, Strom Thurmond will travel to Dillon as a No. 4 seed. Fox Creek is on the road at Chesterfield in Class AA, while Barnwell has a bye in the first round. Silver Bluff travels to Woodland.

Williston-Elko, McCormick and Ridge Spring-Monetta all receive byes in the first round of Class A. Wagener-Salley is home against Lewisville, while Blackville-Hilda goes to Dixie.

Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or david.lee@augustachronicle.com.

 

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