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Gamecocks host Redskins in first round

    After a down year in 2013, at least by Screven County standards, the Gamecocks are back to their winning ways and are entering the first round of the state playoffs riding a five-game winning streak.
    Under head coach Ron Duncan, the Gamecocks (9-1, 5-1 Region 3-AA) are a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs and have the skill to back it up.
    Screven County posted three shutout victories in the regular season and held teams to 10 points or less seven times this year.
    The average margin of victory for the Gamecocks — 28.3 points.
    But all of the numbers go out the window in the playoffs. Coach Duncan said his team views it as a one-game elimination tournament.
    “If you have a bad night in the playoffs you’re done. This is an exciting time of year. You lose and you go home. It’s a one game tournament each week,” Duncan said. ““I think (our players) are pretty dialed in.”
    The Gamecocks head into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and will host the No. 3 seed Bryan County. Friday’s matchup will be the first time in school history these two teams meet despite the close quarters that the schools share throughout the coastal Georgia region.
    As SCHS prepares for a state playoff push, here’s a look at some of the key factors in today’s game.

What to watch: Line vs. line

    Both the offensive and defensive lines for the Gamecocks will have to play a solid game in order to come out on top against Bryan County
    The defensive line for Bryan County likes to play low and maintain leverage, meaning the battle up front will be crucial in order to have success in the run game.
    On the defensive side of the ball for SCHS, the Gamecocks will need to plug up the middle to slow down the Redskins run game. Bryan County will run plenty of two-tight end sets, giving BC more bodies up front.

Who to watch:  Malik Prescott
    If Armani Bunbury is the Cadillac that drives this Gamecocks’ offense, then Malik Prescott is the  Ford Super Duty that gets the job done.
    Prescott, who ran the ball 15 times for 108 yards in a win over Metter last week, has over 1,000 yards rushing on the season and averaged 9.4 yards per carry.
    Listed at 205 pounds, the 6-foot running back is a tough guy to bring down once he gets going.

Key Factor: Turnovers
    Coach Duncan said the turnover battle will be important against the Redskins, who are coming off a 39-7 loss to Vidalia in the regular season finale.
    In the past two games, the Gamecocks turned the ball over six times. SCHS starts nine sophomores and Coach Duncan said he expects his young players to make mistakes from time to time. However, in the playoffs, those mistakes are magnified.
    “When you play nine sophomores, you’re going to make some young mistakes. We need to do a better job of protecting the ball in the run game and in the passing game,” Duncan said.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.