To this point in the season, it has been a good ride for the Wade Hampton football team. Now comes the long ride.
Wade Hampton (6-5) will play West Florence (8-3) on the road at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Class AAAA Division II playoffs. It will be about a 41/2-hour bus trip for the Generals.
“Our deal is going to be handling this ride,” Wade Hampton coach Kent Haltiwanger said. “We feel pretty good about the game head-to-head against West Florence. But being new to AAAA, this is the first time we’re going to have to travel. In AAA, even in the playoffs you didn’t have to go very far.”
The Generals, in AAAA for the first time in 21 years, have been planning for this, scrimmaging at Newberry and Chapin in the preseason, going long distances to get a feel for the travel.
The team is scheduled to leave at 11 a.m. Friday, eat its pregame meal along the way and dress at an elementary school before the game.
“We told them it’s kind of like being at a small college,” Haltiwanger said. “You’ve got to enjoy the trip, and when you get there, you have to realize it’s a football game, and you’ve got to be ready to go.”
West Florence has a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Jalin Dixon and Darius Charles, and quarterback Marquan Goodman has completed 37 percent of his passes for 1,152 yards and 14 TDs. Wide receiver Akeem Bostick has 21 catches, eight for touchdowns.
Wade Hampton has been led offensively by the running of Kaiser Moss, Trent Scott and Shaheem Stupart out of the wing-T and by the versatility and big-play ability of wide receiver-defensive back Megik Henderson.
In its return to AAAA, Wade Hampton made the playoffs, finished the regular season above .500 and registered victories against Gaffney and Spartanburg.
“That was our first and foremost goal, getting (into the playoffs), and we had a couple good wins along the way,” Haltiwanger said. “And especially the way we’ve done it – having to retool with all our injuries – has been unbelievable.
“A lot of things could have bothered this team all year long and haven’t. I’ve been real happy with the way this team has handled all that stuff.”