The South Carolina High School League football playoff brackets in the 1A classification have a tendency to be pretty interesting, and this year is no different.
Due to a weird series of events, two teams with a combined two wins will face off to …
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Due to a weird series of events, two teams with a combined two wins will face off to open the playoffs. If that fact isn't odd enough, what makes the matchup particularly interesting is that one team has both of those wins, and it's the team that's going on the road.
Scott's Branch comes into the playoffs with a 2-8 record thanks to victories over Military Magnet Academy and Bethune-Bowman. The win over Bethune-Bowman put the Eagles in fourth place in Region IV, which put them on the road against the No. 3 seed from Region VI. Well, Region VI only has three teams, and the No. 3 team is winless Hemingway.
Despite the odd situation, head coach Leonard Johnson plans on treating this week like any other week.
"We're just going to treat it like any other game. We don't discount anybody," said the Eagles' head coach. "We've got to be careful not to be their first win. That's the thing that kind of scares you. If we don't do what we need to do, then we may be their first win of the year."
Hemingway, which is 0-10, has struggled on both sides of the ball this season. Offensively, the Tigers haven't scored more than a touchdown in a game and have scored a total of 33 points. By comparison, they've allowed 417 points and have failed to hold opponents under 25 points in all but one game.
Despite the Tigers' struggles, there were a couple of players who stood out to Johnson on film, particularly senior quarterback Aaron Parker.
"Looking at that team, they have a lot of good athletes, a lot of good kids and everything," said Johnson. "They've had to play a lot of babies, just like we have ourselves. It's all a building process.
"(Parker) is dangerous if you allow him to get free. They also have a couple of receivers that have done well for them this year. We scrimmaged them earlier this year, so we're kind of familiar with some of their personnel, so it's not like we're going up against a team that's unfamiliar."
On the other side of the ball, Scott's Branch isn't planning on changing its offense to face off against the porous Tiger defense. The Eagles are finally starting to get settled into the Hammer offense, so Johnson doesn't want to throw his team any curveballs this week.
"We're just going to do what we do. Our system is our system and obviously we're trying to win, but we're trying to show we can run our system because we're looking at the long term," said Johnson. "We've gotten used to what we do, and they've gotten comfortable with what we do, so it would be suicide to change what we've done to try to win a ball game. We have to win with what we've been working with all year."
Johnson's message to his team this week is pretty simple: win and keep the season alive as long as possible.
"Just win, play as long as we possibly can," said the Eagles' head coach. "Do what we do, and don't worry about the other stuff."
A young Scott's Branch team would get a big confidence boost from a playoff win, but Johnson is more concerned with what his team is doing Monday morning.
"I guess we can play another week," joked Johnson about what a win would do for his team. "That's all it is. Either you succeed or you go to the laundry mat on Monday and pack this stuff up. They get to see the impact of winning. If we win, we get to keep on going and who knows what can happen after that."
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