Posted On: 11/19/20 12:00 PM

Irmo wasn’t supposed to be here.

The Yellow Jackets hadn’t defeated anyone with a winning record, and the two teams that could say as much beat up on Irmo pretty good. So when the Yellow Jackets walked out of No. 1 Westside with a 43-35 first-round win, a there was some head-scratching going on around the state.

Multiply that by 10, and you have the reaction to Catawba Ridge’s appearance in the second round of the playoffs.

The second-year program was beat like a drum in 2019, playing an off-balance schedule that basically forced the Copperheads to play whomever could sneak in a single game. They went 2-8. Especially after an abbreviated playoff format was announced Catawba Ridge couldn’t have been on anyone’s shortlist for still playing one game shy of the Upper State finals.

And, yet, here we are. Two surprise teams with some pretty good players.

KAYDEN HAGER, QUARTERBACK, CATAWBA RIDGE

Hager is sort of the ultimate role player for the Copperheads, and he’s proved it on more than one occasion. After starting out the year primarily playing linebacker (where he likely would have led the team in tackles), an injury forced him to shift over to offense.

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