Photo by Tom Cloud
By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
Hard to believe, but here we are – the final week of the regular season. Surprisingly, only a couple of this week’s matchups carry major playoff implications, and only one of those is a winner-gets-in, loser-stays-home showdown (sort of … it’s complicated).
By this time tomorrow, we’ll have playoff brackets (except, perhaps, in SCISA 8-Man … see below), but first, here’s tonight’s full slate of games involving local teams.
HILTON HEAD PREP (1-8, 0-4) AT HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN (4-4, 2-1), 7 P.M.
The cross-island rivalry doesn’t have quite the same juice it did a decade ago, when both teams were perennial state championship contenders. It does carry some minor playoff implications for the Eagles, who can lock up the No. 3 seed with a win. HHCA took a while to get going in last week’s win over Bethesda Academy, but the Eagles might not need much offense this week – HHP hasn’t scored a point in three games since losing quarterback Stone McDonald to a broken hand.
Prediction: Hilton Head Christian 37, Hilton Head Prep 7
BEAUFORT HIGH (6-2, 2-2) AT HILTON HEAD HIGH (4-4, 1-3), 7:30 P.M.
This is the game of the week, not only because of the major playoff implications, but also because it’s simply a great matchup. The Eagles can clinch the No. 3 seed with a win, while the Seahawks need to either (A.) win by at least three and allow 39 or fewer points, or (B.) score at least 43 points in a win. Beaufort has won 10 of the past 11 meetings, including a 31-8 win last year, but the Eagles’ defense is reeling and star running back Kyleik Middleton is banged up. Both teams have solid kickers, so it could come down to a late field goal.
Prediction: Hilton Head High 27, Beaufort High 24
WADE HAMPTON (5-4, 3-0) AT MAY RIVER (2-6, 1-2), 7:30 P.M.
The Red Devils already have claimed the No. 1 seed from Region 8-3A and they can win the region title outright with a win, while May River is locked into the No. 4 seed regardless of the outcome. The Sharks have been tough on defense for most of the year, but they had a difficult time stopping Battery Creek’s ground game last week, and Wade Hampton’s power running attack is even more potent.
Prediction: Wade Hampton 37, May River 20
BLUFFTON (5-3, 2-1) AT RIDGELAND-HARDEEVILLE (3-5, 0-3), 7:30 P.M.
The Bobcats are locked into the No. 2 seed, so they would love nothing more than to get up big early and rest their key players for the playoffs, especially considering the number of key injuries they’ve already endured. The Jaguars already have been eliminated from playoff contention, so it will be interesting to see if they pack up their tents or come out with a chip on their shoulder in hopes of ending on a high note.
Prediction: Bluffton 42, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 20
WHALE BRANCH (4-4, 4-0) AT BURKE (1-7, 0-4), 7:30 P.M.
The Warriors have crushed their last two opponents, and all signs point to a third straight blowout. Whale Branch has been dominant on both sides of the ball while outscoring its past two opponents 98-6, and this looks like an even bigger mismatch. Look for the Warriors to roll up a big lead by halftime and rest as many starters as possible the rest of the way as they prepare for bigger things in the coming weeks.
Prediction: Whale Branch 42, Burke 0
THOMAS HEYWARD (7-2, 3-0) AT COLLETON PREP (3-5, 1-1), 7:30 P.M.
How good have the Rebels been during their six-game winning streak? They’ve scored at least 35 points in each game and the closest contest during the stretch was a 22-point win over John Paul II. The Warhawks are coming off a tough double-overtime loss at JPII last week, but they slowed down Golden Warriors’ star Zack Doe. Thomas Heyward is more balanced on offense, though, and should be able to put up enough points to wrap up the region title.
Prediction: Thomas Heyward 29, Colleton Prep 14
CATHEDRAL ACADEMY (5-2, 2-1) AT BEAUFORT ACADEMY (3-5, 1-2), 7:30 P.M.
Just over a month ago, the Eagles had won three straight on the legs of star running back De’Shaun Epps. Now BA is fighting for a playoff spot after having lost three straight and needs a win over a solid Cathedral team to clinch a berth. If the Eagles lose and Faith Christian loses to first-place Coastal Christian Prep, SCISA rules appear to call for a three-way round robin tiebreaker using the 10-yard-line overtime procedure, which would be … interesting.
Prediction: Cathedral Academy 41, Beaufort Academy 36