True confession: Every time I sit down to write this column I end up doing a horrible impersonation of Aaron Neville. Sometimes just in my head, sometimes out loud.
“I don’t know much … “
But I know I love high school football, and we’ve reached the bittersweet time of year when any team’s season can be snuffed out with one bad game. In fact, three area teams – Hilton Head Prep, Hilton Head High, and Ridgeland-Hardeeville – saw their seasons come to an end with their final regular-season games Friday night.
We have nine teams standing in Beaufort and Jasper counties, and that number is likely to dwindle with each passing week until we’re left looking for something to do on Friday nights until basketball season starts.
As we transition from the regular season to the postseason – “Season 3,” I believe Battery Creek coach Walter Wilson calls it – here are Five Things I Think I Know:
1. Beaufort High is a tough draw. The Eagles have to be the scariest No. 3 seed in the state at any classification. They only lost two games, and both were without star running back Kyleik Middleton. The bad news is they draw another team that is punching above its seed in Myrtle Beach, which started 0-3 but has played great down the stretch and boasts a potent offense. It’s a great first-round matchup, and the winner is likely to face Lower Richland – the weakest No. 1 seed in the Class 4A bracket at 5-5 overall.
2. Battery Creek is dangerous. Another scary No. 3 seed for different reasons. The Dolphins have been down for so long that Bishop England isn’t likely to give them a second thought, and the Bishops are coming off an emotional loss to Timberland with the region title on the line. Wilson has Battery Creek’s players believing in themselves, though, and they had last week off to get healthy and work on fundamentals. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins pull off the first-round upset.
3. The road to the state championship goes through Seabrook and Ridgeland. Only two area teams are in line for more than one home game in the playoffs, barring major upsets. Thomas Heyward will have the luxury of home-field advantage until the state championship game in the condensed SCISA 1A playoffs, while Whale Branch wouldn’t have to travel until the fourth round of the SCHSL 2A playoffs, when they would likely have to go to Carvers Bay or Bamberg-Ehrhardt for the Lower State title game. Bluffton and Beaufort Academy also earned first-round home games, but they will need help to stay at home for the second round.
4. Tiebreakers stink. There’s no way around it – any time you have to break a tie using anything other than head-to-head competition, it stinks. John Paul II learned that the hard way, because the Golden Warriors ended in a three-way tie for second place with Dorchester Academy and Colleton Prep and wound up with the No. 4 seed from SCISA Region 2-1A thanks to a silly point system, sending JPII to face undefeated defending state champion Dillon Christian instead of potentially hosting a first-round game. At least in this case no one got left at home because of an arbitrary tiebreaker.
5. Ken Cribb can still coach. I try to keep this space reserved for the local teams, but this is worth noting. Former Bluffton coach Ken Cribb is having a great first season at Wayne County (Ga.), where the Yellow Jackets are 7-1 and just wrapped up the region title with a 28-14 win over Ware County on Friday. No one who has followed Cribb’s career will be surprised to hear that Wayne County was 3-8 a year ago. Cribb is the master of the quick turnaround.