Brandon Carter | Byrnes Contributor
In the opening round of the 2019 Playoffs, the #2 seeded Byrnes Rebels (9-1, 6-1) host the #3 seeded Nation Ford Falcons (6-6, 2-2).
The Rebels are seen as big favorites in this matchup, but the playoffs are a different animal. Every team earned their way into the postseason and none of them will be pushovers.
“Nation Ford has some great athletes on both sides of the ball” Byrnes Head Coach Reggie Shaw said. “They will make us defend and try to take away our passing game based on what they have shown. They are going to bring a good ball game to us on Friday”
The Rebels have title aspirations this year and many people agree there is a good chance they could make that happen. But if they want to get to Columbia, they can’t afford to slip up in this game or they’ll be going home.
This season, the Rebels have used an old-school approach under Coach Shaw to get victories, focusing their attack around their great run game and dominant defense. And it has clearly worked, as the Rebels are 9-1 on the season and one of the favorites to be the Upper State representative in the 5A State Championship game.
Senior running back Rahjai Harris was tremendous during the regular season, as he totaled 1049 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, to go along with 181 receiving and four receiving touchdowns.
All of these accomplishments were good enough to earn him a full-ride scholarship to East Carolina University, as well as a nomination as a finalist for the Mr. Football award in the state of South Carolina.
For the Rebels defense, they have done their job as well, as they have held opposing offenses to only 10.6 points per game and 184.5 yards per game, while also forcing 18 turnovers during the regular season.
Senior defensive end Josh Byrd was one of the big playmakers for the Rebels on the defensive side of the ball, as he led the team in both sacks (11) and tackles for loss (23), while also finishing second on the team in tackles (46).
The Rebels will unfortunately be without one of their biggest playmakers on offense, senior tight end Kris Byrd, who will likely miss the rest of the playoffs with an injury.
His presence on the field will be missed, but Byrd still intends to make an impact off the field.
“While I will be hurt, I am still going to be that guy mentoring the other players who maybe sometimes get off track during the game, and help lift them up” Byrd said. “I still want to help in any way possible, so we can get that state title”
In their last regular season matchup a week ago, the Byrnes Rebels pitched the shutout against the Boiling Springs Bulldogs, winning 28-0. It was the Rebels’ fourth shutout on the season, as they surrendered only 67 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs.
Byrnes and Nation Ford have only met on two other occasions, in which the Rebels came out victorious in both games. The first matchup took place in 2016 when the Rebels won 42-27 and the second, in 2017 when the Rebels won 31-0.
The Rebels are 25-9 all-time in the opening round of the playoffs, and at home, they are 23-4 in such games.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Nixon Field in Duncan, South Carolina for the Round 1 Playoff matchup between the Byrnes Rebels and the Nation Ford Falcons.
The winner of this matchup will go on to face the winner of the game between the #1 seeded Laurens Raiders and the at large team, the Blythewood Bengals.
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