Originally created 10/25/98

Prep notes: Trio to decide region title



It's down to one game.

One game with the fortunes of three teams hangs in the balance. Next Friday's Barnwell-Silver Bluff matchup will determine how the two participants and Edisto finish in Region 6-AA. Edisto plays Bamberg-Ehrhardt (1-8, 0-4 in Region 6-AA) the same night and barring a tremendous upset will be more interested in the result coming from Barnwell.

A Barnwell victory wraps up the region title for the Warhorses, 9-0 and 4-0. That's the easiest scenario. A Silver Bluff win would put the three combatants into a three-way tie which will be settled by the point differential of head-to-head meetings among the three schools involved.

Barnwell sits atop the pile with a plus-10 differential after defeating Edisto 23-13 on Oct. 9. Edisto is second after playing both teams. The Cougars defeated Silver Bluff 21-14 on Oct. 2. Silver Bluff (7-2, 3-1) is third with a minus-7 by virtue of the loss to Edisto.

A Silver Bluff (7-2, 3-1) victory by nine or more points gives the Bulldogs the crown with a plus-two differential. However, a Silver Bluff win by eight points drops it down to second with a plus-one compared to Barnwell's plus-two differential.

Edisto cannot win the region title but a Barnwell victory or a Silver Bluff win by four or less points would secure second place and home-field advantage for the Cougars.

STREAKING: Aiken has done a 180-degree turn the past three weeks. The Hornets lost their first three games by a combined score of 67-25, but recorded their first shutout of the season Friday with a 32-0 victory over South Aiken.

Two of Aiken's first losses were to squads that qualify as Big 16 teams (Colquitt County, Ga., and Sumter). The Hornets (4-5, 3-2 Region 3-AAAA) have two victories over Big 16 schools (Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Irmo) in their current three-game winning streak.

Coach Carey Johnson attributes his team's turnaround to maturity and improved play.

"I don't see mistakes that we'd been making," Johnson said. "We were a little sloppy (Friday) and that's a concern. But the kids have played well."

HAPPY VALLEY: Midland Valley is also on a hot streak. The Mustangs have reeled off four consecutive victories, including last Friday's 35-0 victory over Eau Claire.

A win this Friday at Strom Thurmond coupled with a loss by Newberry to Brookland-Cayce would give the Mustangs (7-2, 4-2 in Region 4-AAA) a share of the region crown. Newberry would win the tiebreaker as it defeated Midland Valley 35-3 on Sept. 18.

If the Mustangs are victorious it would mark the first time under coach Clayton Chriswell that they recorded eight wins in the regular season.

However, if Strom Thurmond pulls out its fourth victory in five weeks, its hopes of a region title would still be alive, granted Newberry lost. The Rebels defeated the region leader 12-6 on Oct. 9 and would have the tie-break edge.

BIG WIN: With Jefferson County's 33-27 victory over defending Class AA champion Washington County, the Warriors need just one more win coupled with a Golden Hawk win over Swainsboro on Friday to claim its first region championship since Wrens and Louisville consolidated to form Jefferson County High in 1995.

Even though Jefferson dominated the first half, the Warriors had to hold off a furious Washington County comeback and get a 59-yard touchdown run from Jefferson quarterback George Lane late to seal the victory.

"I knew I couldn't let my team down," Lane said after the game. "This is a great win for us."

Jefferson, however, almost gave Washington County a chance at the end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Trying to run out the clock, Lane's pitch to running back Antonio Mitts bounced off the running back's hands and Mitts outran a herd of Golden Hawk defenders to recover the loose ball at the Jefferson 36.

Jefferson's defense, which allowed opponents less than a touchdown per game (4.71 points a contest), allowed running back Steven Grant to rush for 141 yards on 25 carries.

REGION 3-AAA LOGJAM: With ARC's 19-16 win over Thomson and Josey's 40-0 victory over Laney the region has four teams with 5-1 region records. Dublin, Greenbrier, Josey and Richmond Academy each enter next Friday's games tied for first-place in Region 3-AAA.

The situation should be much clearer after this week when Greenbrier visits ARC, Dublin is at Westside on Saturday and Josey plays host to Thomson.

NUMBER ONE JINX: In the Class AA Associated Press poll, four teams have been ranked number one this season and have fallen out of the top spot. On Friday night, Early County became the latest Class AA top-ranked team to fall when it dropped a 6-0 decision to Mitchell-Baker.

In Class A, top-ranked Commerce will fall from its perch after losing 14-13 to Rabun County.

Jimmy DeButts and Tim Morse cover high school sports for The Augusta Chronicle. DeButts can be reached at (706) 823-3216. Morse can be reached at (706) 868-1222 or timmorse@augustachronicle.com.