Raiders open playoffs in Tabor City against Stallions

Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:09 PM

Southern Vance makes its fifth consecutive state playoff appearance tonight in Tabor City as the Raiders visit South Columbus of the 2-A Three Rivers Conference.

The winner between the 15th-seeded Raiders (5-6) and second-seeded Stallions (8-3) advances to the second round to face either No. 10 Farmville Central (8-2) or No. 7 Eastern Randolph (7-4).

Southern head coach Lewis Young said the trip to Columbus County, which lies on the South Carolina border, could take the Raiders three and a half or more hours on the activity bus. Young said Southern plans on arriving in Tabor City much earlier than on a typical away Friday to allow the team to rest.

Southern enters having won three of its last four games, but fell last week at Franklinton. Young said the Raiders had close to double-digit turnovers against the Red Rams.

“I go into each week no matter who we are playing and think if we don’t turn the ball over and stick to the script the way we have it planned out,” said Young, “I think we can at least be in the game with anybody.”

To be in the game against South Columbus, which has made the 2-A Eastern final each of the last two seasons, Southern will likely have to limit the Stallions’ prolific rushing attack.

South Columbus averages 42.6 points and prides itself on the ground game. The Stallions cracked the Associated Press 2-A state high school football poll for the week of Oct. 22 after a 72-18 win over East Columbus, but dropped out the next week following a 34-30 loss to Saint Pauls.

Southern’s signature win this season is a 22-14 victory over South Granville, which finished the season ranked 10th in the 2-A poll. The Raiders’ defense came up huge in that game.

“We have a really good defense that flies around and gets to the football,” said Young. “We have a big interior and some guys that are really fast and can tackle well on the outside.”

Junior linebacker Sheldon Smith is Southern’s leading tackler.

The senior trio of quarterback Ty-Traveon Roberts, running back Qualik Shearin and receiver Shawn Henderson leads the Raider offense, which averages 19.5 points.

Roberts is a dual-threat signal caller and the team’s second-leading rusher, Shearin has around 1,000 yards rushing in 10 games and Henderson has nine touchdown grabs.

Roberts said the Raiders don’t have any overarching goals for the playoffs.

“We cross the bridge when we get there,” said Roberts. “Play one week at a time.”

Week one starts tonight in Tabor City.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.