Hurricane Irma has all of us scrambling to catch up on life this week, and area high school football teams are no exception.
The Lowcountry returns to the gridiron tonight after a chaotic week, and most teams will take the field with just two practices under their belt to prepare for this week’s opponents.
What does that mean, exactly? It’s hard saying, but it certainly makes it tougher to gameplan or add new wrinkles to your playbook to suit the opponent. That more than likely favors the offense, as most teams don’t dramatically alter their offensive approach from week to week, but defensive schemes are more apt to change based on the opposing personnel.
It also emphasizes in-game adjustments and pure athleticism.
It should be an interesting week, to say the least.
Bluffton (1-2) at Hilton Head Island (2-0), 7:30 p.m.
Has there ever been so little hype for the Bridge Bowl? With the short week and the fact that Bobcats have struggled out of the gates, this huge rivalry game seems to lack the buzz of year’s past, but you can bet on both sides being fired up when game time comes. Bluffton has struggled to get its offense going – aside from electric receiver Jermaine Patterson, who has recovered from a scary neck injury and will play tonight – and faces a tough Seahawks defense. The Bobcats also have a tough time stopping the run, but HHIHS hasn’t done much damage on the ground. It looks like a fairly even matchup on paper, so it will come down to execution and who can shake off the rust and make the fewest mistakes.
Prediction: Bluffton 27, HHIHS 25
Beaufort High (3-0) at May River (1-2), 7:30 p.m.
Perhaps no team wanted to see Irma headed for our coast less than the Eagles, who had tons of momentum after three impressive wins to start the season. The Sharks were playing good ball, too, having followed up a near-miss against Bluffton with a resounding win over a tough Whale Branch team. This is a matchup of two excellent rushing offenses, with Beaufort’s Kyleik Middleton and May River’s Ahmad Green and Cam Adams among the area’s best runners. The Eagles have superior depth and are a little tougher up front, though, and that will be the difference.
Prediction: Beaufort High 30, May River 13
Colleton County (1-3) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (3-0), 7:30 p.m.
There are plenty of reasons to sleep on the Jaguars’ 3-0 start – namely the weak schedule they’ve played to this point – but they have some serious offensive weapons and have developed a surprising passing game with Derald Nelson leading the offense. The Cougars, on the other hand, have faced a brutal early schedule and are coming off their first win, a 30-22 triumph at Lakewood last week. Dual-threat quarterback Craig Grant is the catalyst for Colleton County, and he will be the best offensive player the Jaguars have faced thus far.
Prediction: Colleton County 26, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 20
Hilton Head Christian Academy (1-1) at Colleton Prep (1-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles haven’t played in three weeks, as their off week ran into Irma and killed any momentum from a 48-8 win over First Presbyterian way back on Aug. 25. The Warhawks are in the same boat, having been off since their 26-14 win at Williamsburg Academy the same night. If offense truly has the upper-hand on the short week, the Eagles have a great shot with dangerous quarterback Daniel Harrington and all-purpose threat John Burke, and Ron Peduzzi is as good as any coach at preparing a team on short notice.
Prediction: HHCA 23, Colleton Prep 20
Hilton Head Prep (0-3) at Palmetto Christian (0-3), 7:30 p.m.
It has been a tough season thus far for the Dolphins, especially on defense. They’ve given up 46 points or more in each of their three games, but they have their most favorable matchup to date against Palmetto Christian. The Eagles have surrendered 40 or more in all three of their games, and they haven’t shown much prowess on offense, either. Hilton Head Prep quarterback Stone McDonald will be the best player on the field, and the Dolphins should have success moving the ball and pick up their first win.
Prediction: Hilton Head Prep 29, Palmetto Christian 26
Beaufort Academy (1-2) at Northside Christian (1-2), 7:30 p.m.
Eight-man football doesn’t get too much attention, but Beaufort Academy has an exciting player in DeShawn Epps, who has rolled up 475 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his first two games for the Eagles. The Eagles also played much better on defense in their win at Patrick Henry before the storm and should be able to keep rolling.
Prediction: Beaufort Academy 32, Northside Christian 26
Whale Branch (0-2) at Battery Creek (0-3), 11 a.m.
How about a little high school football for brunch? A rare Saturday morning kickoff features an intriguing Lowco-on-Lowco matchup of North of the Broad rivals. Both teams have been battle-tested by tough early-season schedules and are looking for their first win. Battery Creek has struggled to get its offense going despite a wealth of weapons at the skill positions, but the defense has steadily improved. Whale Branch didn’t do much on offense in a 26-6 loss to May River last time out on Sept. 1, but star running back Irvin Mulligan won’t be held down for long.
Prediction: Whale Branch 21, Battery Creek 20
John Paul II (3-1) at Dorchester Academy (3-1), 7 p.m.
Everyone in St. George will know what to expect from the Golden Warriors on Saturday night – they’re going to line up and hand it to Zack Doe, except when they hand it to Melik Frost. That duo has proven to be enough to carry JP2’s offense, and a young team continues to gain confidence with every win. The Raiders are always tough, so this one will be a physical game in the trenches.
Prediction: John Paul II 26, Dorchester Academy 22