Here are the matchups and predictions for the Upstate high school football teams playing at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Upper State championship games.
Greenville (10-3) at Westside (12-1)
What to know: Westside’s offense this season has hit historic levels. Last week in the Class AAAA quarterfinals, the Rams scored 68 points, most by any team in any classification this postseason. They scored a program-record 69 in a game last month, which broke a mark of 63 set the previous week.
Greenville is tied for the second-highest playoff score with 63. Defensively last week, however, Westside and Greenville, allowed 53 and 41 points, respectively. So this shapes up to be quite a shootout.
Greenville wide receiver Mazeo Bennett has scored 14 touchdowns and averages 11.4 yards per rush. Westside running back Demarco Evans is 7 yards short of 1,000 and has 16 TDs. Through the air, it’s quarterback Cutter Woods (3,086 yards) and wide receiver Josh Williams (1,060 yards, 16 TDs).
Greenville made it to the Upper State final last season and is trying to win its first state championship since 1962. Westside has never won it all.
Prediction: Westside 42, Greenville 41
FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Semifinals pairings | Quarterfinals scores | Top performers
Belton-Honea Path (13-0) at Daniel (13-0)
What to know: It’s here. The game everyone — or at least everyone in Anderson and Pickens counties — has been waiting for all season in Class AAA.
Daniel seems every bit as good as its teams that won state titles in 2020 and 2021. The Lions are 49-1 during that span and 71-4 in the past six years under coach Jeff Fruster. Belton-Honea Path has been close the past two years, going 23-2, and the Bears can smell their first state title since 2004.
BHP had a narrow escape last week against Clinton, 27-24. Daniel’s closest game this year was a 14-point regular-season win against Wren, and in that game, it was 35-14 in the fourth quarter.
The Bears will try to shorten the game with an offense that has run for 290.1 yards per game and 8.1 per carry. But they can throw, too. Sophomore quarterback Noah Thomas has passed for 22 touchdowns and 1,460 yards.
Daniel is more balanced, with senior Kolton Chapman throwing for 22 TDs and senior Kari Bennett running for 25.
Prediction: Daniel 35, Belton-Honea Path 31
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St. Joseph’s (11-2) at Christ Church (11-2)
What to know: Christ Church has won five straight against region rival St. Joseph’s, including playoff knockouts the past two years, and is looking for a second straight Class A state championship.
These two teams are nearly evenly matched on offense, both averaging more than 40 points per game during league play. Christ Church has been better on defense, allowing just 48 total points in those six games, and last week held Blackville-Hilda (32.7 scoring average) to seven points.
St. Joseph’s did something even more impressive earlier in these playoffs. The Knights shut out Lewisville, which had scored 184 points in its previous three games. Junior running back Brayden Johnson has 937 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Christ Church has a record-breaking duo of Dashun Reeder (1,509 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns) and Jackson Repp (1,272 receiving yards, 23 TDs).
Prediction: Christ Church 17, St. Joseph’s 14.
JL Mann (11-2) at Dutch Fork (8-5)
What to know: This Class AAAAA game features a storied program, and one that is trying to write a story that might have seemed like fiction in the preseason.
J.L. Mann has never won a football state championship. Last year, in fact, was the first time the Patriots even made the playoffs in more than a decade. Dutch Fork, on the other hand, has six state titles in the past seven years and was runner-up in the other. It lost five of its first seven games this season but rebounded and last week eliminated Gaffney 35-10.
J.L. Mann has allowed only 20 total points in three playoff games. Patriots coach and defensive coordinator Scott Watson took over a team three years ago that had gone 9-75 in the prior eight seasons. Ethan Anderson has passed for 3,020 yards and 39 touchdowns. He has a pair of receivers, Mikkel McClellan and Keyshun Henderson, each with 12 TDs and at least 1,000 yards. Na’Cyus Morrison has 20 rushing touchdowns and 963 yards.
Prediction: J.L. Mann 24, Dutch Fork 21.