The second round of the SCISA 8-man football playoffs pits Laurens Academy against Holly Hill Academy, and it’s an encore to the first game of the season for both teams, which the Raiders won, 18-12.
The numbers suggest that the close game in the opener will be duplicated. Counting each other, the teams have six common opponents. The point differentials were higher for each team on three occasions.
“Holly Hill is going to run the ball and keep it away from you,” Laurens Academy head coach Todd Kirk said. “LA’s going to throw it all around the field. That’s Holly Hill and that’s us.”
In the opening round, LA (8-3) defeated Patrick Henry by a score of 30-14. Holly Hill defeated the Patriots 68-20 early in the season. The Crusaders defeated Clarendon Hall, 44-6. Holly Hill won its game, 28-26. The Raiders defeated Cathedral Academy, 54-0. LA won 52-6. The Crusaders defeated King, 54-0. Holly Hill won, 58-0, in its playoff opener. Holly Hill defeated Wardlaw, 38-6. LA defeated that opponent, 40-0.
Both Holly Hill Academy, coached by Michael Nelson, and Laurens Academy, coached by Todd Kirk, had their lowest point total of the season against the other. Nelson once played baseball at Presbyterian College; Kirk once played football at the University of Tennessee.
“In that first game, they fumbled the ball four times, and we didn’t get a single one of them,” Kirk said. “That’s where the game was decided.”
The Raiders have scored 518 points; the Crusaders, 476. The average score of HHA’s 10 games is 52-10. In LA’s 11, the norm is 43-15.
Led by senior quarterback Thomas Lowry, the Crusader offense has averaged almost exactly 400 yards, 221.4 through the air and 178.4 on the ground. Lowry has all the passing yards and 1,423 of the team’s 1,785 rushing. Clarence Bertoli has caught 89 of Lowry’s 166 completions, followed by Cal Robertson with 27 receptions and Diamonte Grant and Caio Rita 17 each.
“Our players have gotten a lot better,” Kirk said. “I’m sure they’d say the same thing. I thought we should have won the first game. This is another chance for us. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be another great game.”