By Garrett Mitchell
The Woodruff football team capped a successful regular season in grand style, defeating their arch-rivals Clinton 17-7 in a contest that harkened back to the glory days of decades past for both programs.
It was the type of gutsy, hard-fought effort that has served the Wolverines well this season, as Woodruff ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak to earn a 7-3 record and the number two seed from Region III-3A.
Now, Woodruff will turn its attention to the postseason. The Wolverines will host their first round playoff game at W.L. Varner Stadium against Indian Land, the number three seed from region four.
“We definitely have been challenged numerous times this year,” said Woodruff head coach Bradley Adams. “I think we’ve rose to the occasion when it really counted and the Clinton game was really a playoff type atmosphere. That’s what you have to have to be prepared for the playoffs and I feel like we’ve taken the right situations and right scenarios to be prepared.”
With the regular season now in the books, Woodruff will turn its attention to Indian Land, a team with the ability to put up points in bunches offensively but struggles defensively at times. The Warriors finished their season with a 5-5 mark and employ a spread offense that likes to distribute the ball through the air. It is a stark contrast to the run-heavy teams the Wolverines have defeated over the past three games.
“We have spent a lot of time and focus on stopping the run,” Adams said. “We feel like we have finally made some progress and we’ve just got to continue to get better defensively.”
Woodruff senior quarterback B.J. Bailey has passed for 1,485 yards and 18 touchdowns this season to lead the Wolverines’ spread offense. Bailey says he is looking forward to starting his first playoff game.
“I’m looking forward to the experience and being out there with my boys,” Bailey said. “We have a first round playoff game here at home and I’m excited to come out here and win.”
In addition to Bailey, Woodruff has a host of talented weapons all keen on making a deep postseason run. Tailback Shamare Dendy has rushed for 972 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games and senior wide receiver Omarion McKelvin has put together another stellar campaign with 35 catches for 610 yards and seven scores.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have come here to fight,” Bailey said. “Shamare runs the football excellent and our receivers are doing an excellent job catching the ball and running their routes. I think we’ll be ready for the playoffs. I’m excited.”
Woodruff finds itself in the top portion of the bracket, grouped with talented teams such as Pendleton, Chapman, and Chester. Adams is hoping the resiliency of his team will continue to shine through now that each game is a win -or-go-home scenario.
“Our kids, they are just kids that give all they’ve got,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of kids banged up but even hurt have been dragging their legs around, trying to fight through everything. I know they are going to give their very best effort no matter what comes about. They’ll fight.”d to keep up and finish as high as we can.”