Orangeburg-Wilkinson’s 7-0 win over Swansea a week ago assured the Bruins a spot in the Class 3A state playoffs set to begin Friday.
O-W is making its seventh appearance in the last eight years, but has yet to make it past the first round since advancing to the quarterfinals in 2016. Orangeburg-Wilkinson will open the playoffs on the road against Beaufort.
“That was one of the goals coming into this year (making the playoffs),” head coach Chris Carter said. “Even though we came in late, getting these guys to the playoffs is a big accomplishment.”
Carter was named the head coach in May, leaving him little time to put together any sort of spring practice. Making the postseason will give him the opportunity to evaluate the future of his program.
“Getting into the playoffs is like getting another season,” Carter said. “Anything can happen. A lot of teams are packing up, but we’re still playing. It’s like an extra spring practice.”
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Orangeburg-Wilkinson finished the season 3-7 and 2-3 in Region 5-AAA. The Bruins played one of the toughest non-region schedules in the state that featured the top-ranked team in 4A (South Florence) and the second-ranked team in 2A (Barnwell).
“It’s good for our seniors, because they want to leave a legacy,” Carter said. “It also gives (the coaches) a chance to work with the younger players and help them develop.”
When the Bruins win, it’s usually due to the defense. In their three victories, Orangeburg-Wilkinson has given up an average of eight points.
“Our defense has played well all season,” Carter said. “They’ve made numerous goal-line stops, and we’re going to need a great effort because Beaufort can score.”
The Eagles, 8-1 on the season, are led by running back Kacy Fields, who rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s season finale against Hanahan last week.
“They moved (Fields) from receiver to running back, and he’s improved every week,” Carter said. “We have to make sure we tackle well Friday night.”
Offensively, the Bruins are expected to have Anthony Mack back at the quarterback position. Mack was injured in O-W’s loss to Gilbert. Mack has thrown for over 1,000 yards this season and has rushed for over 300 yards while scoring eight touchdowns.
“He has a big arm, and allows us to spread the field a little more,” Carter said.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Beaufort are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.