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Rebels continue quest for 12th title, host rival Gaffney

By Brandon Carter | Byrnes Contributor

Continuing their chase for their 12th state title, the No. 2 seeded Byrnes Rebels (11-1, 6-1) host their bitter rival, the No. 3 seeded Gaffney Indians in the Upper State Semi-Final on Friday night. 

During the regular season, the two rivals faced off in one of the more highly anticipated games of the South Carolina High School football season, but Byrnes made easy work of Gaffney, defeating the Indians 57-30. 

In that game, the Rebels’ senior running back and Mr. Football finalist, Rahjai Harris erupted for 300 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns. The Indians had no answer for the East Carolina commit on that night, and we’ll see if Harris can have a repeat performance in the Upper State Semi-Final.

Harris is also coming off of a 281 yard, five touchdown performance in the 2nd round playoff game against Laurens, in which the Rebels dismantled the #1 seeded Raiders, winning 41-12. 

The Indians 2nd round matchup also saw them upset a #1 seed, the Sumter Fighting Gamecocks. The Indians dominated in that game, winning 33-6. 

After a tough period in region play that saw the Indians lose to Byrnes and Dorman in a span of three weeks, Gaffney has rattled off five straight wins and have done so convincingly. It is no doubt they are one of the hottest teams in the state currently, and will bring a tough test to the Rebels. “To slow down Gaffney, we have to make plays on defense,” senior defensive end Josh Byrd said. “If we do that, we have a good chance of winning”

However the Rebels have home-field advantage in this game, and the Rebel faithful will certainly pack Nixon Field for a rematch against the Indians. 

“Playing Gaffney at home is huge,” Byrnes Head Coach Reggie Shaw said. “There is no place like Nixon for an opponent. The Nixon Nuts will be rowdy, the band will be rocking and the crowd will be electric”

All-time, the Rebels have a slight edge in the series 18-17, as they gained the advantage in the earlier regular season matchup this season. However since 2000, Byrnes is 16-9 overall against Gaffney and 10-2 at Nixon Field against Gaffney during that same time span. 

The Rebels have had the Indians number over the past two seasons, as Byrnes has won all three matchups against the Indians, including a similar matchup to this one, last season in the Upper State semi-final as well, for a spot in the Upper State Championship. The Rebels won that game 27-22, led by a strong performance by the defensive that held strong for a program-changing win, that sent the Rebels to the Upper State Final. 

Kick-off is set for 7:30 on Friday, November 21st at Nixon Field for a highly anticipated rematch between two of the best teams in the state and two bitter rivals for a spot in the Upper State Championship.

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