"Punching The Ticket To State" previews and picks for all the Upper State Title Games

Photo credit The Fan Upstate

Every high school football coach in South Carolina will tell you the goal going into every season, is to be practicing during Thanksgiving Week. If you are practicing that week, it means you are playing for a chance to go to the State Title Game in your class. 7 teams in our listening area have realized that goal and can punch their ticket to State with a win under the lights this Friday night.

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Friday night's slate features a rematch of one of last year's State Title Games, a rematch of a region match up, the 1st time for one school to make it this far, back to back appearances for another program and the chance to reclaim the top spot statewide for a traditional powerhouse.

Gaffney hosts Dutch Fork- This is a rematch of last year's 5A State Championship Game. A year ago, Gaffney knocked off Dutch Fork to claim the State Title and end the run of 5 straight State Titles and snapped their 62 game unbeaten streak. Everybody knows, Gaffney is incredibly good at home. The Reservation will be rocking on Friday and Gaffney is undefeated there all time in Upper State Title Games. They are 36-4 since 2017 at home. Dutch Fork had the most impressive win in the state last week, as they dismantled a good Spartanburg team by over 40. That same Vikings squad took Gaffney to OT before the Indians pulled it out in the regular season. DF is the heavy favorite to win it all and come into this win expected to win the game. However, that was pretty much the same story last year when Gaffney beat them. It's somewhat unfortunate for both teams that DF was put in the Upper State bracket in 5A this year. My pick Dutch Fork by 7-10.

Greenville hosts Northwestern- Neither of these two teams have lost to a 4A program this season. Northwestern's only loss this year came to Gaffney and Greenville lost their 1st 3 to open the season falling to Dorman, Hanna and Byrnes. Until last season, Greenville had never made the Upper State Title Game. This season they are making their second straight appearance. The two teams have common opponents as NW beat South Pointe and Catawba Ridge in region play. Greenville has beaten both of those teams in back to back weeks in the playoffs. My pick- Greenville by 3-7.

Powdersville hosts Clinton- The Patriots had an instant classic last week in their 36-35 win over Daniel. It is the biggest win to date in the short history of the Powdersville program. They dethroned the two time defending 3A State Champs and ended their 36 game win streak. Clinton is unbeaten on the season and had an impressive win of their own last week, handling Chapman. Both coaches have done masterful jobs elevating their programs during their respective tenures. This is Powdersville's 1st ever appearance in the Upper State Title Game and it's the first trip for Clinton since 2009. My pick Powdersville by a TD.

Abbeville hosts Saluda- These two teams have developed a rivalry in recent years. In 2019, Saluda ended Abbeville's run of 4 straight State Titles. Last year, Abbeville ended Saluda's season in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Abbeville has 10 games this season, which they have won 10 or more every year since 2014. Saluda has been on an improbable tear in the postseason. They knocked off Region 4 and defending 2A State Champs Gray Collegiate and Region 3 Champs Strom Thurmond last week. They are looking to run the Region Champ gauntlet by ending the season of all three Region Champs in the Upper State bracket. Saluda has had a Cinderella like run by in that movie the carriage turned to a pumpkin. I think that maybe the story in the 'Ville on Friday. My Pick- Abbeville by 10.

1A- Christ Church hosts St. Joe's- This is St. Joe's 1st ever trip to the Upper State Title Game. This is the 1st trip to this round for Christ Church since 2014. Both teams throttled their opponents last week, downing the champs of Region 3 and Region 4. This is a rematch of a regular season game that Christ Church won by over 40. My Pick- Christ Church by double digits.

This weekend, I will have scores, analysis, interviews, reviews of the Upper State Title Games and previews of the State Finals. Tune in from 8-10 AM for the Saturday Morning Scramble only on The Fan Upstate.

Featured Image Photo Credit: The Fan Upstate