River Valley to Make Playoff Debut Against Zane Trace

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Friday will mark a first round playoff matchup between the Zane Trace Pioneers (10-0) and the River Valley Raiders (7-3), a game that will be an event of firsts for both teams.

Hosting a playoff game for the first time, the undefeated Pioneers will also be vying for their first ever playoff win.

“This was one of our goals,” Zane Trace coach Dwane Hall said. “We are very fortunate to be in this position.”

The Pioneers are not the only storyline in this matchup as the Raiders are making school history as well. Friday will mark River Valley’s first ever playoff game.

“It’s a special time for our community,” River Valley coach Jarod Sparling, “We’ve had a lot of fun.”

Even with this historic team, the Raiders will have an uphill fight against the Pioneers. Zane Trace has dominated every opponent by playing fundamental football on offense, defense and special teams.

The Pioneers have never won a playoff game, but they are a senior led team with experience on both sides of the ball. Offensively, out of the Pioneer’s total scores in the regular season, 44 came at the hands of a senior. These seniors have built a foundation based on a run-heavy style of offense and 41 of the Pioneer’s 57 touchdowns have come via the run.

Even with a run heavy attack, the Pioneers could move the ball through the air when they needed to. In the air, the Pioneer’s average a touchdown every 12 passing attempts, bringing in13 touchdowns on 110 passing attempts.

“They have a lot of explosive athletes,” Sparling said. “They are big, strong and fast.”

While Zane Trace’s offense averaged over 39 points per game this season, what makes them dominant is how they shut down its opponent. On defense they allowed fewer than nine points per game, but what is most impressive about those defensive numbers is that they are skewed.

They allowed 50 combined points in two games this season, which means in the other eight games they surrendered fewer than four points a game. Getting after the quarterback, creating turnovers and forcing punts are all talents the Pioneer defense is capable of. It forced 24 turnovers this regular season and sacked the opposing quarterback 38 times.

Sparling believes that River Valley will be in its best position to win by “playing [its] brand of football… Having focus, being physical and playing with heart.”

Whoever comes out on top of the game will face the winner of No. 3 Alexander and No. 6 Rock Hill on Nov. 13.