Familiar foe awaits Easley in Round 1

By Eugene Jolley
Courier Sports

GREENWOOD — Two former region rivals will meet Friday night in the first round of the South Carolina Class 5A state football playoffs on Friday night in Greenwood, as the Eagles will host Easley.

Both teams will be playing following a 21-day layoff. Both Easley and Greenwood last played Oct. 28 in their regular-season finales. 11-16 Page 1B.inddEasley shut out J.L. Mann, 35-0, while Greenwood lost to Laurens for the Region II-5A title, 20-10, on that night.

The delay in the start of the playoffs was due to postponements in the lower state caused by Hurricane Matthew. The regular season in the lower state finished last Friday night.

The Green Wave and Eagles have known for virtually the entire three weeks off that they were going to match up.

Easley coach John Windham said following the Mann game that his team would approach this like a college team approaches a bowl game.

The team practiced Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the first week. With Election Day last week, school was out on Tuesday, so practice was held on Friday also. Now, it’s go time for both teams as it is finally game week.

“We’ve definitely played some of those teams, and they’re all quality teams,” Windham said of Region II. “There is some familiarity there for sure.

11-16 Page 1B.indd“(Practice) won’t be completely off, but it will be reduced a little bit — kind of like a bowl game. “

Kerry Gilstrap/Courier                                    Easley’s Will Drawdy gets past a Greenwood defender during their game last year in Easley. The former region foes will meet again this Friday night in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs at Greenwood’s J.W. Babb Stadium.

The two teams are no strangers to each other, and unfortunately for the Green Wave, they haven’t historically had much success against the Eagles, although Easley did win last year’s region matchup, 29-21. On more than one occasion, the Green Wave under then-coach Chad Smith played against the Eagles for the region title only to come up short to then-coach Gene Cathcart and the Eagles.

Now Dan Pippin is the head man for Greenwood.

The Eagles (8-2, second place in Region II) are led by two North-South All-Star selections in lineman Joe Hartung and linebacker Will Bettis. The Eagles are also unbeaten at home this season, winning all five games.

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Kerry Gilstrap/Courier
Easley’s Bralan Fuller sprints for a long gain against Belton-Honea Path earlier this season. Fuller will hope to extend his senior season by helping the Green Wave win this Friday night at Greenwood.


Easley (5-5, third place in Region I) has been led by senior safety Sean-Thomas Faulkner on defense all season. Offensively, the Green Wave will try to be balanced behind the running of senior Will Drawdy and the passing of sophomore Weston Black to receivers such as senior Bralan Fuller.

The teams have one common opponent between them, with both losing to T.L. Hanna. Hanna beat Greenwood 45-38 on Sept. 23. Then a week later, the Yellow Jackets held on at Easley, 37-26.

11-16 Page 1B.inddThe winner of Friday’s game will meet the Rock Hill at Boiling Springs winner on Nov. 25.

Game time Friday night at J.W. Babb Stadium in Greenwood is set for 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $7.