North Augusta football coach Dan Pippin, thankful for a break watching teams outside his region, said he had fun this week breaking down Beaufort High School on film.
The sixth-seeded Eagles travel to face the third-seeded Yellow Jackets on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the second round of the Class 4-A Division II playoffs. The teams present contrasting styles -- North Augusta spreading the field and having thrown for more than 2,500 yards and Beaufort High committed to the ground game.
"First, it's fun because we haven't seen them 65 times the last five years, like everybody else," said Pippin, an assistant on this year's Shrine bowl team and coach at North Augusta since 2006. "That part was fun. Then you start watching them and are like 'Man, that's pretty neat how they run everything.' "
Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford is hoping the unfamiliarity might lead to some success against the Yellow Jackets' 4-3 defense.
The Eagles (9-3) are as deep in the playoffs as they have been since 2007. To remain on the move after Friday will require limiting mistakes, Clifford said.
After a miscue-riddled loss at Ashley Ridge, Beaufort High has won its past three games, in part because it tightened up those problem areas.
"The 3.8 team GPA might be the only thing about us that's not an intangible," Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford said. "We need to be smart and play hard."
The close to three-hour road trip won't be unfamiliar to Beaufort High, which played four consecutive road games early in the season and won each. None of those opponents was the caliber of the Yellow Jackets.
North Augusta is 11-1 and Region 5 champion by virtue of a tiebreaker with Dutch Fork and Lexington. The Yellow Jackets have reached the state semifinals twice the past four years and the quarterfinals four times.
Pippin said the Yellow Jackets have succeeded by running the same system from recreation league on.
He said Beaufort High is the same way in its commitment to what it runs. The Yellow Jackets worked on being fundamentally sound, Pippin said, but didn't spend much time imitating the Eagles' offense.
"We're going to show them the plays, but you can't replicate stuff like that," Pippin said.
Quarterback Trib Reese leads the Yellow Jackets' offense, having thrown for 2,565 yards and 33 touchdowns. His top receiver is Keyon West, who has 14 touchdowns and averages 13.4 yards per catch.
West had nine catches for 150 yards and two scores to help North Augusta defeat Laurens in Round 1.
Clifford said North Augusta is confident in its 4-3 defense, plays fundamentally sound and doesn't blitz much.
"One thing in our favor, when you go out of town and play schools that haven't played us; they have not seen us, they have not seen our look, they have not seen our speed," Clifford said. "We're going to do our offense, we're going to use our weapons, and we're going to tweak a little bit."
Class 4-A Division II playoffs, second round
Who: No. 6 seed Beaufort High (9-3) at No. 3 seed North Augusta (11-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last meeting: North Augusta 34, Beaufort High 13 (1961 Class 2-A playoffs)
The skinny: The Yellow Jackets won Region 5, breaking a three-way tie with Lexington and Dutch Fork. North Augusta defeated Laurens 42-11 in the first round. Beaufort High's playoff victory Nov. 15 was its first since 2007.
Players to watch: North Augusta QB Trib Reese has completed 189 of 264 passes for 2, 565 yards, 33 touchdowns and five interceptions. RB Willie McCloud has rushed for 1,169 yards and 16 scores. With 141 tackles, Beaufort High LB T.J. Watts has tallied more than 50 more than his next closest teammate.
Keys to the game: Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford said mistake-free football has been key during his team's three-game win streak. He wants more smart football against what will be the Eagles' strongest opponent this recent stretch. The Eagles will again try to dominate time of possession as they did to beat Blythewood.