Class 2A Powers Square Off

Chanti Jones leads the defensive attack against Newberry in last season’s playoff showdown. The last two meetings between these 2A powers have been instant classics, with Fairfield Central prevailing both times – 28-27 last year and 28-21 in overtime in 2012. Tonight should be no different.

Fairfield Central at Newberry

WINNSBORO – Friday night two of the top 2A teams in the state will vie for the early lead in Region III-AA. The Griffins of Fairfield Central (5-1, 2-0) will travel to Newberry to take on the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-0).

Newberry is coming off a 30-22 win over Keenan last week, and the Bulldogs needed every bit of a 110-percent effort to beat the Raiders. With two minutes left, Newberry quarterback Yafari Werts connected with Sharif Glymph on a 58-yard touchdown pass to knock off then ninth-ranked Raiders at Bolden Stadium in Columbia.

After falling behind 14-0 early, Keenan scored 22 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 22-14 lead into the break at the half, but the Raiders were unable to control the Bulldogs in the second half.

Earlier this week, Newberry head coach Phil Strickland said the game was a tale of two halves after the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and then self-destructed in the second quarter.

“In the second half we did what we needed to do and beat a really good Keenan team,” Strickland said. “They’re (Keenan) going to surprise some people this year I think.”

Newberry was able to capitalize on five Keenan turnovers in the victory. The Bulldogs secondary came away with four interceptions.

Fairfield had a bye last week and head coach Demetrius Davis said it was a perfectly placed off-week to prepare for a top-ranked opponent.

“By far Newberry is going to be our biggest game of the year,” Davis said after a Sept. 26 win over Columbia. “Every game is big, but this one is against a team that has probably been working for Fairfield Central all year.”

The Griffins eliminated Newberry from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

“I think the way we feel about Dillon (who defeated Fairfield in the last two state championship games) is the way they (Newberry) feel about us,” Davis said.

In the all-time series, Fairfield owns a 10-7 record over the Bulldogs. The Griffins are only allowing 9.6 points per game thus far this season and the Bulldogs’ offense is putting up a staggering 36.8 points per outing.

Fans, players and coaches have had the Oct. 10 contest between Fairfield Central and Newberry circled on the schedule and although it was difficult for Strickland to put the meaning of tonight’s game into words, he emphasized that all region games are important.

“We take one game at a time,” the Newberry head coach said. “I know that’s cliché, but that’s what we do here. Last week we were worried about Keenan and this weekend we’re worried about Fairfield, because they have a mighty fine football team.”

Newberry came into the season as the early favorite to win Region III-AA, but Strickland isn’t buying into those predictions surrounding his football team just yet with the Griffins on the horizon.

“They (Fairfield Central) look just as talented as they ever have to me,” he said. “They get after it, move around on defense and are extremely dangerous on offense. They’re balanced and can run it or throw it.”

Fairfield’s sophomore quarterback Stanley McManus has limited his mistakes through the first six games and has been able to hurt opposing defenses with his arm and his legs.

“He doesn’t look like a sophomore to me,” Strickland said while discussing McManus earlier this week. “He looks really poised and comfortable back there. He understands the offense and runs it extremely well.”

On the other side, Fairfield Central will have to deal with Newberry’s junior quarterback Yafari Werts and a strong ground attack from the Bulldogs.

“(Werts) is a vital part of our offense, but we still run some old school stuff,” Strickland said. “We’ve got a pretty good tailback and pretty good fullback too so between those three heads, defenses have to honor all three of them I think.”

Tailback Omar Sims tallied up 68 yards on 12 carries against Keenan and fullback Chris Wadsworth pounded out 48 yards on six rushes last week.

Friday night’s contest will be deemed as a “Pink Out” game for Newberry as fans, players and coaches will wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can follow live game updates on the Fairfield Central Griffin Football Facebook page. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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