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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: AJA, HHA to battle for 8-man crown Friday night

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SPORTS LIBRARY Generic Football illustration

Andrew Jackson Academy (10-1) will face Holly Hill Academy (11-0) for the SCISA 8-Man championship.

The two teams met earlier this season with Holly Hill getting a 26-14 victory. Andrew Jackson was able to navigate its way through the postseason, and get another shot at the Raiders Friday.

The Warriors are coming off a 34-30 victory over Clarendon Hall. Head coach Chad Gleaton said he and his team were tested in a game that featured seven combined touchdowns called back due to penalties.

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“Our guys were able to stay poised (against Clarendon),” Gleaton said. “Penalties killed us last year, and they almost got us again this past week. If we want to win, we have to play a clean football game.”

Jonathan Schaffer led the Warriors with 114 yards rushing and a touchdown. Carson Cone and Chase Carson also added rushing touchdown along with quarterback Calin Brunson.

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Holly Hill Academy defeated Patrick Henry 62-24 to take their spot in Friday’s title game. The Patriots were able to stay within a score of Holly Hill in the regular season (30-22) but injuries to their starting quarterback and fullback allowed the Raiders to win convincingly.

Tyler Wright led the Raiders with 243 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Jacob Rogers completed all five of his passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Gleaton said he genuinely enjoys watching Holly Hill play football.

“I respect what they have done,” Gleaton said. “They’re a lot like us, they’re physical. I love the way they play. There are few times when I cut on film and enjoy what I am watching. They look like they care for each other and when they step on the field they expect to win.”

In their first meeting, Andrew Jackson Academy elected to receive the opening kickoff and promptly marched it down the field for a touchdown.

“It was the first time this season not getting the ball first,” HHA head coach Michael Nelson said. “They came down and scored, but we didn’t back down. We got punched in the mouth, but came right back and had a one-play drive. We were able to match their physicality.”

Holly Hill used a balanced attack of passing and rushing to keep the Warriors off-balance. Rogers completed 6-of-9 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns. Marion Breland led the rushing attack with 118 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re not going to stray from our identity,” Nelson said. “We have had success with the offense we’ve been running. We just try to take advantage of what the defense gives us. It’s all about which team can execute better.”

Execution was a word that both coaches were keen to use early in the week. Gleaton said there is no magic formula when you get to this level of football.

“It comes down to blocking, tackling and the vertical running game,” Gleaton said. “To make changes now would be a drastic mistake. It’s going to come down to a few plays from the playmakers.”

Nelson said the Warriors attempted to throw more than expected in the team’s first matchup.

“We could see more passing again Friday night,” Nelson said. “If that’s the case, we’re prepared for anything. We have seen it all this year, it’s just about making adjustments and executing.”

Andrew Jackson Academy and Holly Hill Academy will face off Friday, kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Calhoun Academy.

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