The first batch of pretenders to the throne has been sent packing with the completion of the opening round of the football playoffs.
The Berkeley Stags made easy pickings of a completely non-functioning Midland Valley team that did nothing more than fall on an already-downed Matt Harkness to score its only two points of the night. The Mustangs drew no closer to the end zone than the Berkeley 35-yard line.
Taking a peek at the brackets, I also notice that Batesburg-Leesville, coached by former Berkeley coach Jerry Brown, is out of the playoffs with a 5-6 record.
These Stags are also 5-6 and still in it. Just something to consider if one pauses to continue grumbling about the 2012 season.
Itís easy to say these Stags are still a year away with a projected 40 seniors expected in 2013, but whatever Berkeley does from this point forward is gravy. The 2012 season is already an improvement over last year and things are finally starting to click.
Even in a sluggish game with Midland Valley, you could see the potential shining through. Take away the case of butterfingers afflicting Stag receivers Friday night and itís not inconceivable that Berkeley could have put another 50-spot on the board.
Not so fast I know, there is still undefeated Socastee to contend with first. The 11-0 Braves downed Crestwood 30-12 in round one and last year systematically dismantled the Stags 41-7 in the first round of the 2011 playoffs. Along with top ranked Hartsville, Socastee is the only unbeaten team remaining in Class AAA.
Letís hope Friday is payback time.
The Timberland Wolves start their official defense of their 2011 Class Div. I state championship on Friday after drawing a first round bye as the Lower Stateís top seed. The Wolves host Wade Hampton, which downed Marion 28-8 in the first round.
The Red Devils come into the second round sporting a 2-9 record and are winners of two straight. Until winning its final regular season game, Wade Hampton had lost all nine of its regular season tilts.
The Wolves have not been seriously challenged since losing to Berkeley 21-20 on Sept. 21, and probably wonít be against Wade Hampton. Since then Timberland has outscored its opponents 218-20 including three straight shutouts.
And not to count any chickens before they are hatched, once again, Timberlandís defining moment of 2012 looms on Nov. 23, against second seeded arch nemesis Dillon. A win over the Lake City / Edisto-Ridgeland winner and the Wolves will once again line up opposite the Wildcats.
The Cross Trojans, 8-3, won their first round playoff game 65-16 over Scottís Branch and will face Timmonsville on Friday in the second round.† The Whirlwinds, at 10-2, advanced with a 26-20 first round win over Bethune-Bowman.
Should the Trojans advance over Timmonsville, they will face the winner of the Lake View Ė Denmark-Olar game for the Lower State Championship on Nov. 16. In 2011, Cross defeated Denmark-Olar in the first round of the playoffs and fell to Lake View in the second round.
Two wins and Cross plays for the Class A Div. II state championship at Benedict College.
The Trojans are rested and healthy, and playing their best football of the season.
I canít wait for Friday.