For the second time in three seasons the Lower Richland Diamond Hornets, 7-1 overall and 4-0 in Region 4-3A, enter the playoffs as a No. 1 seed. The No. 1 seed ensures the Diamond Hornets will host the first two rounds of the 3A playoffs. They start with the Seneca Bobcats Friday, November 5.
“ This team is very excited,” head coach Marlin Taylor said. “I think the guys are ready to get started. We’ve been off for two weeks now so just to get back into a game week is exciting.”
The Diamond Hornets had the two-week break due to the region schedule being moved up to September 16. Without being able to secure a Week 9 game, Taylor decided to give his team two weeks to heal and focus on practicing. At first Taylor was concerned about the long break, but he says it’s been the best two weeks of practice all season.
Lower Richland comes into the game as one of the hottest teams in the Midlands. The Diamond Hornets’ offense has averaged 33 points per game and is led by quarterback Robert Adams, who has completed 65-of-122 passes for 1,189 yards and 11 touchdowns. For the season, Lower Richland has averaged 148.6 passing yards.
His favorite target has been Nate Branch, who has 21 receptions for 602 yards and seven touchdowns.
The strength of the Lower Richland offense has been its rushing attack, which is averaging 214.8 yards per game. Jeremy Barney and Lamarion Pearson have provided a two-headed monster for the Diamond Hornets. Barney has 689 yards and 14 touchdowns on 111 carries. Pearson has 681 yards and five touchdowns on 96 carries.
Lower Richland’s offense will be tested by a Seneca defense which has given up an average of 22.1 points per game.
The battle will continue on the other side of the ball as the Bobcats are averaging 43.1 points per game. The strength for Seneca is in its rushing attack, which is averaging 87.8 yards per game.
Through the air, the Bobcats are averaging 69.6 yards per game.
For the Diamond Hornets, shutouts have earned the players doughnuts, and Taylor has had to make a couple trips by the local Dunkin Doughnuts or Krispy Kreme lately for his defense.
After surrendering 20 points in a double overtime win against Chester, the Lower Richland defense pitched back-to-back shutouts over Fairfield Central and Mid-Carolina. That streak came to an end against Keenan, which scored 12 points.
Taylor feels the two teams are a mirror image of each other. He believes his offense will need to run the ball well and stay ahead of the chains, while the defense needs to keep playing at a high level.
The edge could come to the team with home field advantage as Seneca must make the nearly three hour trek to Hopkins.
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