WINNSBORO — The Raiders of Keenan (7-4) will try to topple the favored Griffins of Fairfield Central (10-0) on Friday at E.K. Mclendon Stadium in Winnsboro in the AA second round playoff matchup.
Keenan is coming off a 19-15 win over Powdersville, who was in search of their first playoff win after going winless last season. Powdersville head coach Robert Mustar told The Herald Independent’s sister paper, The Powdersville Post, that his team was thrown a curveball prior to the first round playoff game.
“We were told Saturday we would play Columbia High School in the first round of the playoffs, but then got a call Monday morning informing us we would play Keenan High instead,” he explained.
Mustar believes that cost his team valuable preparation time.
“When we left that meeting on Saturday, I was told everything was final,” he noted. “Our coaches had laptops out on the way back from Columbia starting to break down film on DVD. We spent about four hours breaking down film on Columbia Sunday, and we get the call (Monday) and had no film on Keenan.”
Fairfield Central head coach Demetrius Davis echoed Mustar’s concerns.
“I don’t know if I could do that (prepare after losing two days of preparation),” Davis said. “It was a definite disadvantage for both teams.”
Despite being underprepared, Powdersville still gave the Raiders all they could handle by stretching the game out late into the fourth quarter. Powdersville had a chance at the end, but a Keenan interception would end the rally attempt.
Davis and some of his staff attended Friday night’s game between Keenan and Powdersville to scout their next opponent in person.
“Keenan looked good and made a couple of big plays and forced some turnovers,” he noted.
Fairfield had a bye in the first round, and will make their playoff debut when they host Keenan. The Raiders are led by first-year head coach Quin McCollum and will get a second chance against the Griffins after suffering at 38-0 loss in Winnsboro back on Oct. 18.
Keenan’s normally productive offense — which averages 38 points and 359 yards per game — was scoreless in the first game and held to 126 offensive yards. The Griffins defense has posted three shutouts this season and has allowed just 9.7 points per game.
The Griffins offense outgained the Raiders — 557 yards to 126 yards. Both Larry G. Bell and Joseph Young scored two touchdowns apiece and went over the century mark on the ground — 175 yards and 114 yards respectively.
Griffins quarterback DeAndre Belton threw three interceptions against Keenan, after not throwing a pick through the first seven games of the season.
Keenan’s main offensive threat, Peter Easaw, was limited to 43 offensive yards on 18 touches against Fairfield nearly a month ago. Davis said that the Fairfield Central defense wants to keep the ball away from Easaw and will kick and punt away from him as well. Davis emphasized that players need to stay in their lanes when covering on special teams to prevent a big play.
“We did a good job against him the first time,” he noted. “And limiting his touches will be one of our keys again.”
Davis said his staff took time last week to revamp and sharpen their players’ skills on fundamentals and specials teams’ play.
“This is a new season and we have to be good on defense and good on special teams in order to move on,” he noted.
Griffins can listen to a live broadcast of Friday night’s game on 102.7 FM. Belton’s older brother and Former Fairfield Central alum, Kenny Belton, will join the broadcast team. Pregame coverage starts at 7 p.m.