The first day of fall is upon us, and that means we’re approaching the mid-point of the high school football season. It’s the final week of non-region play for area public schools, while SCISA teams already face big region matchups this week.
We also have three Lowco-on-Lowco battles in Week 6, with Whale Branch at Bluffton, Hilton Head Island at Ridgeland-Hardeeville, and John Paul II at Thomas Heyward. And if you notice a bunch of folks wearing green who look out of place tonight, be nice to them – they don’t know what to do with themselves on Friday night when Beaufort High School doesn’t play.
Here’s a rundown of what to watch for on the gridiron in Week 6:
First Baptist (3-0, 0-0) at Hilton Head Prep (1-3, 0-0), 5 p.m.
The Dolphins are riding high after picking up their first win last week in a 29-14 victory at Palmetto Christian, but this week the competition goes from one of their weakest opponents on the schedule to one of the strongest. The defending SCISA Class 2A state champion Hurricanes have outscored their first three opponents 140-12 and posted two straight shutouts.
Prediction: First Baptist 47, Hilton Head Prep 13
Northwood Academy (1-3, 1-1) at Hilton Head Christian Academy (2-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
The Eagles are playing well on both sides of the ball and coming off an impressive 28-14 win at Colleton Prep last week, and the schedule sets up well to make it a three-game winning streak. The matchup isn’t ideal for HHCA’s offense, as the Chargers have been gashed on the ground and quarterback Daniel Harrington has been the only consistent runner for the Eagles. HHCA won’t need much offensive production, though, as the Chargers have scored only 16 points in four games and have been shut out three times.
Prediction: HHCA 24, Northwood Academy 6
Hilton Head Island (2-1) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (3-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Seahawks are *thisclose* to being undefeated as they look to bounce back from last week’s emotional 37-34 double-overtime loss to Bluffton in the Bridge Bowl. They took some positives from that defeat, though, mostly on the offensive side of the ball. Incorporating speedster Sterling White into the running game more sparked the offense, and Kevin Schofield also had a big game on the ground. The Jaguars also are coming off their first loss, a 48-12 drubbing by Colleton County, and will need to be balanced on offense to keep the Seahawks from loading the box to stop the run.
Prediction: HHIHS 30, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 20
Whale Branch (0-3) at Bluffton (2-2), 7:30 p.m.
The parade of titans continues for Whale Branch, which has to wait one more week to pick on someone its own size. The Warriors have really struggled in the trenches against their bigger brothers from Beaufort County, and that might be the case again Friday, though the Bobcats have had trouble stopping the run and Whale Branch boasts a great running back in Irvin Mulligan. Bluffton has made strides, though, and the passing game is lethal, presenting a big-time challenge for the Warriors’ secondary.
Prediction: Bluffton 37, Whale Branch 14
Calhoun County (1-3) at Battery Creek (1-3), 7:30 p.m.
Oh, the intrigue, as first-year Battery Creek coach Walter Wilson faces his longtime team. Wilson has said from the start that he has to teach the Dolphins how to win, and they figured it out last week in a dominant 23-0 victory over Whale Branch. They’ve found some new weapons on offense, and the defense is legit.
Prediction: Battery Creek 29, Calhoun County 28
May River (1-3) at Manning (5-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks might be one of the best 1-3 teams in the state, as their schedule has been loaded with moral victories, and they face another tough matchup against the No. 6 team in Class 3A. The Monarchs haven’t been dominant in their 5-0 start – they beat Wade Hampton in triple-overtime and had close calls against Lakewood and Crestwood – but they’ve gotten the job done. If May River can play the kind of defense it has played in its past two games – a 26-6 win at Whale Branch and a 9-7 loss to Beaufort High, the Sharks will have a real chance to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Manning 20, May River 13
John Paul II (3-2, 1-1) at Thomas Heyward (2-2, 0-0), 7:30 p.m.
The showdown of Jasper County private schools should be a great matchup. The Golden Warriors boast a powerful running game led by Zack Doe and Melik Frost, but the Rebels have dual-threat quarterback Logan Thomas and up-and-coming running back JR Patterson. Both teams have had their issues stopping power ground games, so this one could come down to which defense does a better job of executing and making open-field tackles.
Prediction: John Paul II 30, Thomas Heyward 28
Beaufort Academy (2-2) at Calhoun Academy (1-3), 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles picked up where they left off before a two-week layover when they won 52-26 at Northside Christian last week, proving their newfound offensive prowess is for real. De’Shaun Epps is a force, and quarterback Dawson Coleman has given BA a balanced attack, which can be lethal in the 8-man game. Calhoun has lost three straight, allowing 44 or more points in each contest, and seems to be trending in the wrong direction.
Prediction: Beaufort Academy 42, Calhoun Academy 36