The final week of the regular season for the state’s lower three football classes is here.
And while the teams on the Grand Strand in two of those four classes have already crowned a region champion, playoff berths and postseason seedings are still very much up for grabs.
In Region VII-AAA, Socastee clinched a first-place finish with last week’s win over Wilson. Myrtle Beach is also locked into second place in the region, courtesy of the Seahawks’ 3-1 record in division games.
However, in the all-important battle for third place, three of the remaining four teams are still alive.
Georgetown (5-4 overall, 2-2 region) can clinch that spot with a win Thursday at Wilson (3-6, 1-3). St. James, the third team in the mix, is 3-6 overall and 2-2 in region play. The Sharks play at home against Socastee Friday night.
The three teams gunning for that third spot – and a guaranteed berth in the playoffs – have several scenarios that could play out.
Georgetown already owns the head-to-head tie-breakers over St. James and Wilson. But, if the Bulldogs lose their regular-season finale, St. James would earn the third seed with a win over Socastee.
Should Georgetown and St. James both fall, it would force a three-way tie for the third spot in the region, which will be decided by defensive points allowed versus the other two teams. St. James gave up a combined 56 points against Wilson and Georgetown. Wilson has allowed 42 points, and Georgetown has allowed 20. It sets up some possible scoreboard watching for both Thursday and Friday nights.
“We just know that we have to go win this ballgame,” Georgetown coach Bradley Adams said. “Not just for the sake of going to the playoffs, but for the sake of not going backwards. … We don’t feel we’re going to see anybody better than we have the last two weeks in Socastee and Myrtle Beach.
“The only team we’ll see [in the Lower State playoff bracket] that’s as good as the two we’ve played in the last two weeks is Hartsville. And that’s what it’s going to come down to in the Lower State.”
That is, again, should the Bulldogs qualify for the postseason.
It won’t be known until the scores from Regions V, VI and VIII start rolling in Friday night if Region VII will have a fourth team in the playoffs. The new Class AAA format will take at least one team from the overloaded Upper State field and place it in the Lower State postseason bracket.
And with only one team, North Myrtle Beach, having been eliminated from postseason contention, Region VII-AAA is nowhere near decided.
In Class AA, the four area teams all know they’re going to the playoffs. However, where they will stand come Saturday when the brackets are released is up in the air.
Loris will head to Aynor for a big showdown Friday night. The winner finishes second in Region VIII-AA behind Dillon. Given Loris’ inclusion in the Class AA, Division I playoff bracket, the Lions (6-3, 3-1) very much need this victory to guarantee a home playoff game.
It appears Aynor (7-2, 3-1) has have already done enough secure a home postseason contest regardless of Friday’s result. But the Blue Jackets can do even more. With a win Friday, Aynor’s record could be enough to warrant one of the four first-round byes for the Class AA, Division II Lower State playoffs, which would then mean a second-round home game.
Andrews (2-7, 1-3 in Region VII-AA) will join Aynor in the Division II playoffs next week, and Waccamaw (3-6, 0-4 in Region VIII-AA) will be in the Class AA, Division I playoffs alongside Loris.
Carvers Bay has Friday’s home game against fellow Region VII-A undefeated Timmonsville standing in the way of a region title and likely top-three seed in the Class A, Division I playoff bracket. The Bears have won eight straight since losing to Johnsonville in the season opener.
Green Sea Floyds (2-7, 1-3 Region VIII-A) would need a win over Creek Bridge and significant help Friday night in order to qualify for the Class A, Division I playoffs.
Georgetown’s football team was not the squad it has put on the field most of the season during last week’s loss to Myrtle Beach.
Two of the team’s biggest offensive playmakers, running back Julian Lunsford and receiver AJ Walker, both missed the game after suffering concussions. The Bulldogs went on to fall 18-0 to Myrtle Beach, setting up much of this week’s playoff drama.
Adams said Lunsford and Walker were both scheduled to undergo concussion tests Monday and Tuesday, and their availability for Thursday’s game should be known by Tuesday evening.
Georgetown loses a recovery day for the two via playing Thursday. Wilson shares a stadium with other Florence teams, and as such, the schools are often forced to play a game a day early.
Socastee coach Tim Renfrow is nearing the end of the best season in school history.
But he’s also got an added responsibility this year. Renfrow is serving as an assistant coach for the SCADA North-South All-Star Football game, which will be played Dec. 8 at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
“It takes away from your daily plans,” Renfrow said. “But it’s positive to get to see some of the best players in the state play. For the coaches, the fun part will be when we start practicing.
“It’s just a lot of talent in the South. It’s just a process. We won’t be able to pick necessarily the best kids. We have to pick positions.”
Renfrow, who was selected to coach in an all-star event for the first time in his career, will be coaching the South squad’s secondary. That will be no easy task, as the quarterback and receiver combinations for the North team are likely going to be stout again. Last year, the North won the game 42-3.
Several area players should be on the rosters, which will be finalized Monday during the coaches’ last selection meeting. The teams could be released as early as Monday evening or Tuesday afternoon.
State volleyball and tennis playoffs
The statewide volleyball postseason begins this week in all classes.
In Class AAAA, Carolina Forest and Conway each secured first-round home matches. The Panthers once again finished first in Region VI-AAAA and will take on White Knoll on Tuesday. Conway, the second-place team out of Region VI-AAAA, plays third-seeded North Augusta this evening.
Four area teams from Region VII-AAA made the postseason. North Myrtle Beach plays Darlington on Tuesday at home, while Socastee will play host to Crestwood. Third-seeded St. James heads to Marlboro County, and No. 4 Myrtle Beach will play at Hartsville.
Those matches chase Monday’s first-round playoffs in Class AA and Class A. Waccamaw, Aynor and Loris (Class AA) and Carvers Bay (Class A) all qualified for their respective postseasons.
Girls tennis playoffs also begin this week, but not all the brackets have been released.
Contact IAN GUERIN at firstname.lastname@example.org.