Thursday, November 8, 2012
The Swamp Foxes introduction to the Division 1-AAAA playoffs will not be gentle.
Ashley Ridge, which advanced to the semi-finals of the Division 2-AAAA playoffs last year, will play its first “Big 16” playoff game on the road against state powerhouse Gaffney. The top-seeded Indians host the Swamp Foxes, the No. 16 seed, at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Gaffney enters the game with an 8-3 record. Its losses are to Northwestern, York and Wade Hampton, which all made the 2-AAAA playoffs. On their way to earning the top seed, the Indians picked up wins over Byrnes, Dorman, Boiling Springs and Spartanburg.
Ashley Ridge was hoping to build off last season’s success, but ran into trouble early this year. However, the Swamp Foxes (4-7) showed a lot of heart last week as they upset Fort Dorchester to sneak into the playoffs.
“We are excited to be in the playoffs and we know the challenge we have in front of us,” Ashley Ridge coach Kenny Walker said. “We didn’t get off to a great start this season and a goal for us was to get into region play and work our way into the tournament somehow.”
The how turned out to be scoring 21 unanswered points against the Patriots in the fourth quarter to snag Region 8-AAAA’s last automatic bid. The Swamp Fox offensive backs refused to be denied a playoff berth and the Ashley Ridge defense stood tall against an explosive Fort offense.
But for the Foxes it doesn’t get any easier from here.
“Gaffney lost their games early in the year and they have made an important change since, moving a wide receiver to quarterback,” Walker said. “Their defense is really solid. They have a front four that probably is the best I have seen in high school football. They average about 280 across the front and they move well. Their linebackers don’t get out of position and their secondary is always around the ball.”
Gaffney defensive lineman Jaylen Miller (6-3, 250) has been selected to participate in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas all-star game while Gaffney linebacker Quardarius Weeks (6-1, 185) and offensive lineman Kerry Williams (6-2, 265) have been selected for the North-South All-star game. Indian running back Hyleck Foster (6-0, 165) enters Friday’s game with more than 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
“Overall their offense is more run oriented but a lot of their big plays come from their quarterback scrambling around and finding open receivers down field,” Walker said. “We have been working on keeping our pass rush lanes and our secondary staying with their receivers if that happens. They are a spread offense and run a lot of zone read which we have seen quite a bit of. They actually use three of their defensive lineman on offense in their power look and have done a lot of damage with that formation.”
But the Foxes are already in upset mode and have their own Shrine Bowler, running back Romelo Doctor. He too has surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season.
Doctor and the other Ashley Ridge skill players are always a threat to break big plays, as they showed against Fort Dorchester.
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or firstname.lastname@example.org