WINNSBORO — The Mighty Griffins of Fairfield Central (13-0) will play in their second straight state championship game tonight at Benedict College in Columbia.
Last season they fell to the Dillon Wildcats 21-6, but as fate would have it, Dillon (11-2) is back for the title game as well and both teams are geared up for a rematch.
Fairfield Central is undefeated so far with an 8-0 record at home and a 5-0 record on the road. Their offense averages 39.8 points per game and the defenses allows just 10.5 points per game. Let’s review the 2013 season:
• Aug. 30: The Griffins opened up the regular season on the road at Westwood with a 35-26 win. Fairfield overcame a 7-0 deficit to start the game. DeAndre Belton piled up 294 yards of total offense and four touchdowns.
• Sept. 6: Fairfield avenged a 2012-loss to Abbeville by a score of 42-6. The Griffins put up a 21-point first quarter and a 21-point third quarter during the victory. The defense allowed just 167 yards, forced three turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown when Larry J. Bell returned a fumble 20 yards for a score.
• Sept. 13: Fairfield defeated Chester 50-26 in a county-line rivalry game. It was the first of three 50 plus point games for the Griffins’ offense. They led 43-10 at the half and were fueled by 257 yards on the ground including three rushing touchdowns from Larry G. Bell and two from Joseph Young.
• Sept. 20: The Griffins avenged a 2012-loss to Union County at Union County by a score of 35-11. Fairfield’s two-headed running attack of Larry G. Bell and Joseph Young each broke the century mark for the first time with 123 yards and 101 yards respectively. They combined for four touchdowns on the ground. Kewaun Squirewell added 99 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
• Sept. 27: Fairfield beat the Braves of Cheraw for the third time in a calendar year by a score of 41-6. The Griffins exploded for 27 points in the third quarter and rolled up 458 yards of total offense. Fairfield’s defense held the Cheraw rushing attack to just 35 yards on 25 carries. Joseph Young scored three times on eight carries and DeAndre Belton threw for 216 yards and one touchdown by completing 12 of his 18 passes.
• Oct. 4: In their first region III-AA game of the year, the Griffins shut out Columbia 50-0. It was the first of four shutouts by the Fairfield defense. The defense combined for six tackles for a loss, six sacks and two turnovers. Shadarius Hopkins snagged his fifth interception in the game — at the time a team high. On the defensive line, Chanti Jones recorded two sack and two tackles for a loss.
• Oct. 11: In the middle of a four-game homestand, Fairfield blew out Eau Claire 58-6. The varsity players played just 14 plays on offense and put up their most points of the season. DeAndre Belton completed all four of his passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 34 yards on the ground with a score. Devin Simmons was selected as on the players of the game, after recording one tackle, one sack and blocked punt for a touchdown.
• Oct. 18: Fairfield marched through Keenan in its final home game of the regular season 38-0. The Griffins led 31-0 at the half. They exploded for 557 yards on offense including 388 on the ground. Fairfield’s defense held Keenan to just 127 yards. After not throwing an interception through the first seven games of the season, DeAndre Belton threw three to the Keenan defense. Larry G. Bell and Joseph Young combined for four touchdowns and 289 rushing yards — 175 and 114, respectively.
• Oct. 25: Playing on the road, the Griffins faced their largest deficit of the season but escaped Pelion with a 33-16 victory. The win clinched the Region III-AA title. Fairfield trailed 16-7 in the third quarter, but scored 26 unanswered points in 10 minutes to win the game. Compton Walker’s 53-yard punt return at the end of the third quarter gave the Griffins the lead for good. The scoring run also included a 40-yard catch by Kewaun Squirewell, a 33-yard run by DeAndre Belton and a 25-yard reception by Javaris Cook.
• Nov. 1: In the regular season finale, Fairfield defeated North Central on the road in a water-logged contest, 19-0. It was the third shutout for the defense in five games. North Central’s offense was held to an anemic 46 yards on offense. In large part due to wet and sloppy conditions, the Griffins committed a season-high three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception). For the second straight week, Compton Walker returned a punt for a touchdown — 85 yards.
• Nov. 15: After a bye week, the Griffins began their 2013 playoff win with a 26-0 victory over Keenan in the second round. It was the defense’s fourth shutout in six games. They allowed just 42 yards and forced four turnovers. It was the Griffins’ second victory over Keenan in four weeks. Fairfield led 19-0 at the half. DeAndre Belton, Larry G. Bell and Joseph Young all rushed for over 50 yards in the contest.
• Nov. 22: In the third round of the state playoffs, Fairfield squeaked out a 28-27 win over the Bulldogs of Newberry. Leading 28-7 in the third quarter, the Griffins watched Newberry put up 20 unanswered points in a 10-minute period to pull within an extra point to tie the game with two minutes remaining. However, on a play that changed the game and both team’s seasons, Newberry’s long snapper was unable to snap the ball cleanly to his holder and the game came to a close on a botched point-after attempt. DeAndre Belton was the star of Fairfield’s offensive show with 256 total yards and three touchdowns.
• Nov. 29: In the upper state championship game, Fairfield defeated Cheraw in Cheraw 37-13 to secure its spot in the state title game. The Griffins jumped out to a 14-0 lead just two minutes into the game without Cheraw’s offense running a play. The quick start vaulted Fairfield to a 21-0 lead at the half. Defensively, the Griffins forced three turnovers and stopped Cheraw on three fourth down plays. It was the fourth win over Cheraw in a calendar year and crowned Fairfield as upper-state champs for the second consecutive season. Larry G. Bell went over the century mark with 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns. DeAndre Belton threw for 169 yards and three scores.