From 0-9 last fall to the third round of the playoffs this season, the Cross High School football program has experienced a fantastic turnaround, Trojans coach Shaun Wright said.
Quarterback Deondre Brown ran for two scores and passed for another as visiting Cross edged Baptist Hill in the second round of the Class A playoffs Friday in Hollywood. The Trojans won 34-26, also scoring on defense and special teams, to extend their streak to four victories in a row.
Cross (7-4) travels to Lake View Friday for the third round. The Wild Gators are 8-4 after blasting Branchville 60-6 in the second round.
Comparing scores, Cross lost to Branchville by two points in the regular season. Wright knows his team is a huge underdog.
“Lake View is a perennial power,” Wright said. “You go to their stadium and you see all the state championship banners. Coach (Daryl) King is one of the best coaches in the state of South Carolina. Their kids are tough kids. They do a great job in the weight room and schematically.”
The Cross-Lake View winner travels to meet either C.E. Murray or Green Sea Floyds in the state semifinal round.
The two last played in 2017 when the Wild Gators used a big second half to win 32-12 in the playoffs. Lake View also won a postseason encounter, 14-6, in 2015.
Cross was victorious in the prior matchup, 41-40, on the way to a state crown in 2012.
Lake View has won three straight this season by a score of 164-18 since falling to Green Sea-Floyds Oct. 18.
Since falling to Branchville, Cross has outscored opponents 126-40. Veteran leadership has been vital in the home stretch.
“Our seniors have been our top players the last few ballgames and our younger players are playing hard for the seniors,” Wright said.
Against Baptist Hill, the score was tied 20-20 in the fourth quarter. Brown’s 21-yard touchdown strike to Xavier Gattis broke the tie and Marion Footman returned a fumble for a touchdown for some insurance.
Earlier, the Trojans scored on special teams when Ashton Howard recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.
The win gave Cross a bit of revenge for a 22-14 loss to Baptist Hill in the regular season.
“The kids were motivated,” Wright said. “It’s always hard to beat somebody twice. When we saw how the brackets set up, we felt we had a shot to beat Baptist Hill if we saw them again.”