WINNSBORO — Tonight, the undefeated Griffins of Fairfield Central (13-0) will take their act on the road to face the Braves of Cheraw (8-4) for the right t0 be crowned upperstate champs and the chance to advance to play in the state championship game on Dec. 6.
Fairfield Central head coach Demetrius Davis knows what’s at stake this late in the season.
“This is going to be a tough game just like it was last week (referring to the 28-27 win over Newberry),” he said.
Fairfield Central earned their spot in tonight’s game after holding on for a 28-27 victory over Newberry last week. Newberry’s long-snapper bounced the snap off the ground on what would have been the game-tying extra point with two minutes left in the game.
DeAndre Belton was named “Player of the Week.” Belton completed 16 of his 26 passes for 170 yards and touchdowns. He also excelled in the ground game, carrying the ball 15 times for 108 yards and one touchdown.
Other Griffins named to the football honor roll for last week’s performance include Larry G. Bell (15 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown), Khalil Keitt (four tackles, three tackles for a loss and one sack), Larry J. Bell (seven tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack and five quarterback hurries) and Byron Sampson (four tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and two quarterback hurries).
This will be the fourth time Fairfield Central and Cheraw have played in just over a calendar year. The Griffins defeated the Braves last year 42-6 in the regular season and then again in the post-season 27-10. This season the Griffins beat Cheraw 41-6 back on Sept. 27 in Winnsboro.
“This is the fourth time we’ve played these guys (Cheraw) in a calendar year and I’m sure they’re going to have a great gameplan for us,” Davis noted.
That win on Sept. 27 was the fifth win of the season for the Griffins, despite only being up 14-0 at halftime. Fairfield scored 27 points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. The Griffins put up 458 yards of offense, with Belton accounting for 272 (216 passing and 56 rushing).
Cheraw was held to just 148 yards on offense and only rushed for 35 yards on 25 carries. The Braves only converted two of their third down plays and committed two turnovers, including a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chris Boyd.
Cheraw’s lone touchdown came in the fourth quarter when the Griffin defense was mostly made up of JV players. Since that six-point effort just over two months ago, the Braves have averaged 28.4 points per game and have outscored their opponents 199-103.
The Fairfield game was the last time the Braves lost and have since won seven straight games. They started the season 1-4, but then went 5-0 in region play to win the IV-AA title. During their seven-game winning streak (including two playoff victories), Cheraw has outscored their opponents 199-103.
“They’re (Cheraw) is going to be ready to play,” Davis said. “They’ve won seven in a row and have they have some great athletes up there.”
Cheraw’s two playoff wins came over Columbia by a score of 26-6 and last week’s 41-26 win over the Panthers of Pelion. The Panthers held a brief lead at 20-14, until Cheraw rattled off 20 straight points.
Davis said that his team has spent all week preparing for Cheraw and they even practiced on Thanksgiving day.
“We’ve had to put a lot of work in this week and our coaches have done a good job breaking down film and preparing our guys for this upper-state championship game,” he noted.
Cheraw’s four losses have come to quality opponents including the 41-6 loss to Fairfield, a 15-13 loss to Camden, a 50-7 loss to Marlboro County and a 28-0 loss to Hartsville.
This is the first playoff game on the road for Fairfield in two seasons.
“They’re (Cheraw) is going to be at home and they’re going to be ready to go,” Davis stated. “We just have to stay focused and pay attention to the small things in order to get this win on the road.”
The winner of tonight’s game will advance to the state championship game on Dec. 6, at Benedict College in Columbia, to play the winner of Dillon/Timberland game. You can also listen to a live broadcast of the game on 102.7 FM.