Originally created 10/31/04

Playoff puzzle still unsolved



Most of the area's high school football teams knew their playoff status after their games Friday night.

But Swainsboro, Burke County, Jefferson County and Glenn Hills are still left to wonder in Georgia, and South Aiken still has its regular season finale this Friday against Aiken.

Swainsboro beat Toombs County, 24-13 to keep its hopes of a playoff spot in Region 3-AA alive. Glenn Hills was off in Region 3-AAA North and the Georgia High School Association had not sorted that region's playoff spots as of Saturday afternoon.

Pending a win by Jefferson County (6-3, 3-1 Region 3-AAA South) against Benedictine (2-7) on Saturday night, the Warriors, Burke County (7-3, 4-1) and South Effingham (9-1, 4-1) will meet in a three-way mini-playoff Monday to decide the subregion's two playoff participants.

South Aiken (5-5, 2-2 Region 4-AAAA) needs to beat Aiken this week to assure itself of a playoff spot. If it loses to Aiken, which clinched the region title Friday, then South Aiken coach Dan Pippin thinks a Lexington win against White Knoll would put his team in the playoffs.

Lincoln County (7-A), Laney (7-AA), Thomson (3-AAA), Blackville-Hilda (5-A) and Strom Thurmond (5-AAA) all earned region championships and will play host to the first round of playoffs Friday night. Lincoln County will play host to Our Lady of Mercy (Region 5-No. 4 seed); Laney will play Crim (5-4); Thomson will play Westover (1-4); Blackville-Hilda plays Cross and Strom Thurmond plays Lake Marion.

In Georgia Class A, Aquinas (Region 7-No. 4 seed) travels to Landmark Christian and Washington-Wilkes (7-2) will play host to Whitfield Academy (5-3).

Washington County (4-AAA-No. 2) will play host to Troup (2-3). In Class AAAA, Evans (Region 2-No. 3 seed) will travel to Creekside (4-2).

In South Carolina Class A, Wagener-Salley will play host to Lewisville as the No. 2 seed in Region 4. Ridge Spring-Monetta (Region 4-No. 4 seed) will travel to No. 1 seed Great Falls. Williston-Elko (Region 5-No. 4 seed) will also have to travel to a No. 1 seed, St. Johns.

Silver Bluff earned the No. 2 seed in 4-AA and will play host to Bishop England. Barnwell earned the No. 3 seed in the same region and will travel to play Andrews.

RECRUITING WATCH: South Carolina recruiting coordinator Rick Stockstill was on hand for Aiken's 44-7 dismantling of North Augusta on Friday night. Stockstill was there to check out Aiken's Terrence Smith and North Augusta's C.J. Byrd and Justin Wheeler.

Smith had the best game of the three as he hauled in two passes for 77 yards, including one touchdown from Olajuwon Paige, and made several nice punt returns.

Byrd, the most heavily recruited player in the area, caught only two passes for 15 yards. But he made a number of tackles.

Wheeler, playing his first year of football, also caught Stockstill's attention. He caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.

RELAXING NIGHT: Glenn Hills coach Felix Curry looked forward to sitting in the stands at Friday night's Butler-Thomson game.

"It will be the most relaxing Friday in a while," Curry said earlier this week. "I really don't know who I will root for. If Butler wins, we might get another chance to see what we can really do against Thomson."

Curry was on hand in the event Butler beat Thomson to represent his Spartans (8-2) in a drawing that would have been necessary had the three teams all finished with identical 4-1 region records and a three-way playoff of mini-games was necessary.

Glenn Hills earned the No. 2 seed in the North subregion with the narrow Thomson victory. The Spartans had a chance last week at the subregion crown, but were soundly whipped 34-8 at home by Thomson. Curry wished for another chance at the Bulldogs because he felt his team didn't represent themselves well in their regular-season finale.

"We were all hyped up for that game and I don't think we handled it well," Curry said. "I wish we could have bottled all of that up and let it loose on the field."

Thomson jumped out to a 21-point lead in the first quarter.

"From there we never had a chance to play our game," Curry said. "Our game plan kind of went out the window quick in that one. We're just not the kind of team that can give that away to a Thomson and expect to come back. We just didn't have a game plan ready to come back from."

SHRINE HONOREES: Blackville-Hilda's Tharry Salley was a nice surprise to the South Carolina team for the annual North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl game. It's not the easiest honor for a player from a Class A school to earn.

"Single A players don't get a whole lot of respect for things like that," Salley said. "Maybe I can be one of those who breaks the barrier. It's nice to get the recognition no matter how big a school I play at."

North Augusta's C.J. Byrd also made the squad. The honor was a nice follow to a career-high 19 tackles last week against South Aiken. Byrd was moved to a linebacker spot for that contest and was able to seek out the ball. He also added an interception.

"It was a big honor," Byrd said. "I am thankful for that and for the players around me that helped put me in the position for that type of attention."

Aiken wideout Terrance Smith and defensive lineman Jimmie Holmes also made the team.

Staff writer Jeff Sentell and sports editor John Boyette contributed to this report.

Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3216 or kristy.shonka@augustachronicle.com.