The Clarendon Hall Saints got some payback in the first round of the SCISA 8-man Division II football playoffs last Friday against Richard Winn Academy. They hope to do the same this Friday against Andrew Jackson Academy.
And if that's the case, CH will be playing for the state title on Nov. 18.
Clarendon Hall rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit to come back and defeat RWA, a team that had defeated the Saints 47-31 in a regular-season meeting in Summerton. That sets up a return trip to Erhardt for CH to face AJA. Andrew Jackson scored a last-minute touchdown to win the regular-season meeting 40-35.
Clarendon Hall head coach Mike Corbett isn't surprised his team is on the cusp of playing for a state title.
"I've thought all along that this team can be as good as it wants to be," Corbett said of his 7-4 team. "I knew what we had because I've coached all of these kids on the junior varsity except for the transfers. We've got some talent in this group."
The Saints rallied in the third quarter against Richard Winn to go up 16-14. RWA went back up 22-16 before CH tied it at 22-22 entering the fourth quarter.
The Eagles scored in the fourth quarter to go up 28-22, but couldn't convert the 2-point conversion. Clarendon Hall tied the game and Jeffrey Warren added the extra point to make it 29-28.
The Saints' offense is led by quarterback Dylan Way. In 10 regular-season contests, he competed 65 of 118 passes for 1,201 yards and eight touchdowns against five interceptions. Way also had 798 yards and 12 touchdowns on 84 rushing attempts.
Tyrese Mitchum led the team in rushing with 956 yards and 17 scores on 96 carries. Zyan Gilmore had 676 yards and eight scores on 27 catches, while Kade Elliott had 19 receptions for 302 yards and one touchdown.
Defensive end Ben Corbett was far and away the team leader in tackles with 146. Way led the team in interceptions with four and Corbett and defensive lineman Justin James both had four quarterback sacks.
AJA, the 2-time defending state champion, had a first-round bye after winning the Region II title. The 7-1 Confederates are a team that tries to beat you with a power running game, according to Coach Corbett said.
"They are going to line up and try to run it right at you," the head coach said. "They've got a very talented fullback, and we've got to be able to shut him down. My belief is you don't let the other team's best player beat you."
Coach Corbett said his team will have to be balanced offensively and eliminate turnovers if it hopes to win.
"We can throw and we can run, so we've got to see what is working best for us," he said. "We've got to take advantage of what is given to us.
"We've also got to cut down on our turnovers. We had four turnovers in the last game. That's one thing we definitely have to take care of."