Down to the wire to get my picks in before Week 2 kicks off at 5 p.m. at Hilton Head Prep, where the Dolphins host Thomas Heyward in one of four Lowco-on-Lowco matchups this week.
We have a couple of big rivalry games with Battery Creek visiting Beaufort and Bluffton marching over to May River, but the most intriguing contest of the week is North of the Broad as Hilton Head Island opens its season at Whale Branch.
Last week was a solid debut for my picks, as I went 6-2, only missing on Bluffton’s loss to Screven County and Battery Creek’s defeat to Swansea. Here’s this week’s swing at the local schedule:
Hilton Head Island at Whale Branch, 8 p.m.
The season-opener for both teams looks like the best matchup of the week, as the Seahawks travel to Seabrook. The offense is a work in progress for coach BJ Payne’s HHIHS team, and Whale Branch should have a strong defense. The difference in the game is likely to come down to the other matchup – can the Warriors put up points against what could be a pretty salty Seahawks defense. Look for a low-scoring affair that goes down to the wire.
Prediction: Hilton Head Island 21, Whale Branch 20
First Presbyterian at Hilton Head Christian Academy, 7 p.m.
Hilton Head Christian was one of the biggest surprises of Week 1 in a double-OT loss to John Paul II. The Eagles have a couple of excellent offensive players in quarterback Daniel Harrington and receiver John Burke, a duo that will give any defense fits. The defense had a tough time stopping Zack Doe last week, but that will be a common theme all season, and the Highlanders don’t have that kind of player on their roster.
Prediction: HHCA 27, First Presbyterian 20
Estill at Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 7:30 p.m.
Week 1 was a wild ride for the Jaguars, who piled up more than 330 total yards on offense but were derailed by turnovers in a 12-8 win at Thomas Heyward. That was with Jabari Williams carrying the load, while potential star Freddie Aiken III had a tough time finding running room. RHHS has a ton of offensive weapons if it can limit the mistakes, and the defense had a strong showing against the Rebels. Look for the Jaguars to move to 2-0 for the second straight year.
Prediction: Ridgeland-Hardeeville 20, Estill 6
Thomas Heyward at Hilton Head Prep, 5 p.m.
This is a matchup of similar teams in that both depend heavily on their dual-threat quarterbacks to fuel the offense. Thomas Heyward’s Logan Thomas and Hilton Head Prep’s Stone McDonald are the players to watch on offense, and both teams will struggle to move the ball if the other shuts down the QB. The Rebels have more depth, and that could be the deciding factor on a hot and humid afternoon in Sea Pines.
Prediction: Thomas Heyward 20, Hilton Head Prep 7
John Paul II at St. Andrew’s, 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Warriors are still riding the high of their 26-20 double-OT win over Hilton Head Christian last week, but things are about to get tougher as they face a St. Andrew’s team that crushed Palmetto Christian 56-6 in Week 1. Zack Doe always gives JP2 a chance on offense, but the Golden Warriors will have a tough time in the trenches against the Lions.
Prediction: St. Andrew’s 37, John Paul II 14
Bluffton at May River, 7:30 p.m.
They say to throw out the records in rivalry games, and emotions certainly can be a factor that evens the playing field. The talent level is still a little lopsided in this new rivalry, though, and the Bobcats are going to be eager to get back on the field after a loss to a tough Screen County team last week. Bluffton will get its run game going, and while May River is much improved on offense, I’m not sure they can keep pace with the Bobcats.
Prediction: Bluffton 40, May River 20
Battery Creek at Beaufort High, 7:30 p.m.
This series will become more competitive if coach Walter Wilson sticks around at Battery Creek for a few years, but it still looks like a mismatch at the moment. Beaufort High has won 11 straight against the Dolphins dating to 2003, and a strong running game led by Logan Adkins and Kyleik Middleton combined with a physical defense will help the Eagles keep the streak alive.
Prediction: Beaufort High 37, Battery Creek 7
Beaufort Academy at Clarendon Hall, 7:30 p.m.
The schedule makers didn’t do Beaufort Academy any favors with the Eagles’ first two opponents. After a touch Week 1 matchup at St. John’s Christian, BA draws another powerhouse opponent in Clarendon Hall, which trounced Cathedral Academy 60-12 last week and has a star dual-threat quarterback in Dylan Way. Brighter days are ahead for the Eagles, but they will have a tough time tonight.
Prediction: Clarendon Hall 47, Beaufort Academy 14