Porter Ridge, 11-0, has dominated the Southern Carolina Conference this season and climbed to the No. 4 ranking in the Observer's Sweet 16.
The Pirates defeated Dudley 29-7 and hosted Mount Tabor in the third round of the state playoffs Friday. (This story was printed prior to that game.)
After losing just two games last year, the Pirates find themselves in a similar situation, advancing deep into the playoffs.
After a physical and sometimes chippy season finale against archrival Sun Valley, the Pirates wrapped up their second straight conference title.
Porter Ridge may be more talented and balanced than a season ago, and a big reason is the running-back duo of senior Najee Davis and junior Chris Duffy. Duffy, 5-feet-11-inches and 180 pounds, and Davis, 5-feet-7, 155 pounds, have different skills but work in tandem in the Pirates' backfield.
Duffy transferred back to Porter Ridge this year after catching 46 passes for 526 yards and 10 touchdowns as a Spartan receiver. Now, in the Pirates' backfield, he is the inside-the-tackle runner, looking for contact and gaining yards methodically.
"Najee is really fast and gets outside and beats people with his speed," Duffy said. "I try to take on the contact and grind out the two or three yards each time. We work well together and do feed off of each other."
"I am faster and a little more shiftier, but Chris is a lot stronger and runs harder," Davis said. "Where I try to run around the tackles and get to the outside, he is a downhill runner who likes the contact."
Both say they keep each other motivated.
Duffy has been named team player of the week five times and burst onto the scene with three touchdowns in the opening week. He has 110 carries for 846 yards and 16 touchdowns and eight receptions for 146 yards and another touchdown.
Davis has 151 carries for 836 yards and 11 touchdowns, with 14 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown.
"Us running the ball takes a lot of pressure off of (quarterback Lee McNeil) and the rest of our offense," Davis said. "It is important that we are able to stay healthy and consistent the rest of the way."
Duffy said he is excited for the playoffs, which mean better teams and colder, more diverse weather. Along with his running mate, he said, he is ready to take on more of the load.
The Pirates have senior leaders at quarterback with McNeil, wide receiver Jordan Oakley and Davis at halfback. They also have an experienced offensive line.
The Pirates average 40 points a game and have scored at least 21 in every game but one.
"We are playing better teams who know it's one loss and their season is over," Duffy said. "Every game is physical and we are going to get their best. We have to be ready for that, stay focused and do what we have to do."
Duffy and Davis are running the ball well and both double as defensive backs. Davis has 12 tackles and an interception and Duffy has 17 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
"Coach (Blair Hardin) always says he will put the best 11 on the field at any one time, and going both ways lets us know he has confidence in both of us," Davis said. "We have to respond to that, step up and make sure we are ready for whatever we are asked to do."