After what seems like an eternity, high school football returns to the Lowcountry tonight.
Hurricane Florence spoiled our Friday night fun last week, but we’re back on the gridiron with a heavy slate of 10 games involving area teams tonight.
If you’re headed to a game tonight, check out the ScoreStream app, where you can post score updates, photos, and even chat with other fans about the game. It’s pretty great — and it’s FREE.
It will be interesting to see who can knock off the rust after the extra downtime, and hopefully my picking skills aren’t too dull from the unexpected break. When we last left off, I was 6-3 in Week 4 to improve to 26-8 on the season.
LowcoSports.com Game of the Week
John Paul II (2-2) at Hilton Head Prep (1-2)
The complexion of this local rivalry certainly changed in a hurry. After the Dolphins hammered the Golden Warriors 54-0 in JPII’s first season of 11-man football in 2016, JPII returned the favor with a 51-14 win last year. Hilton Head Prep was off to a great start with a 45-0 win over Northside Christian and a heart-breaking 21-20 loss at Colleton Prep, but the run defense was exposed in a 62-6 thrashing at the hands of Thomas Heyward last time out. The Dolphins face another stout run game against Zach Doe and company, but it’s also a tough matchup for the Golden Warriors, who have proven susceptible to the pass. JPII’s secondary will have to be sound to slow down Stone McDonald and Prep’s passing game and earn a third straight win.
Prediction: John Paul II 41, Hilton Head Prep 27
Beaufort High (3-1) at Blythewood (3-1)
Former Gamecocks star DeVonte Holloman returns to his old stomping grounds with his Eagles for an intriguing non-region matchup. Beaufort High is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season – a 35-7 loss to Wayne County before Florence interrupted everything. The Bengals have a strong ground game led by Jaylon Boyd, who has rushed for 442 yards and seven TDs. The Eagles can’t afford to make many mistakes if they want to win on the road.
Prediction: Blythewood 24, Beaufort 20
Bluffton (2-2) at Sumter (4-0)
The Bobcats were riding high after two straight wins, including a thrilling 16-14 victory at Hanahan on Evan Hayes’ last-second field goal, before the storm disturbed their momentum. It also gave them a reprieve from a brutal stretch of their schedule, as they avoided facing Class 4A No. 1 Hartsville, but they now travel to take on the No. 7 team in Class 5A. The Gamecocks have been impressive during a 4-0 start, with a balanced offense and a solid defense.
Prediction: Sumter 42, Bluffton 20
Christ Church (2-3) at Hilton Head High (3-1)
The Seahawks had to welcome the unexpected week off to lick their wounds after a 55-11 loss to May River, but they’re still far from full strength. Hilton Head is still without several key starters – including star receiver Sterling White and defensive standout Cole DeMarzo – and expects to start at least three freshmen, which could make things more difficult than they should be against the Class 1A school from Greenville. The Cavaliers have some talent, but the Seahawks should be able to hurt them with their passing game and wear them down as the game progresses.
Prediction: Hilton Head High 23, Christ Church 16
Wade Hampton (4-0) at Battery Creek (0-4)
It has been a disastrous start to the season for a Battery Creek team that looked like it was ready to turn a corner after last year’s big step forward. It will only get tougher tonight against defending region champion Wade Hampton. The Red Devils’ power rushing attack led by powerhouse Pernell Maxwell III is a lot to handle, and the defense has allowed only 35 points in four games. Creek still has time to turn around its season, but tonight is probably not the night it starts.
Prediction: Wade Hampton 47, Battery Creek 14
Ridgeland-Hardeeville (2-2) at Colleton County (1-3)
The Jaguars have lost two straight following a 2-0 start, but they’ve shown some mettle in the second half of both games. The Cougars started 0-3 against a tough early-season slate but are looking to build off a 26-8 win over Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The Jags have dug themselves big holes early in their two consecutive losses, so they need to get off to a quick start tonight to end the losing streak.
Prediction: Colleton County 30, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 26
Whale Branch (3-1) at Philip Simmons (1-3)
The Warriors rebounded from their first loss of the season to take down Ridgeland-Hardeeville, and they should have no problem staying on track this week. The Iron Horses are allowing more than 30 points per game, and they might be seeing the best offensive player they’ve faced yet in Whale Branch’s Irvin Mulligan, not to mention a pretty salty defense. If all goes well for the Warriors, Mulligan won’t need many carries to help build a big lead and they can save his legs for next week’s region opener against Woodland.
Prediction: Whale Branch 40, Philip Simmons 20
Northwood Academy (0-4) at Thomas Heyward (5-0)
One of the most disappointing results of Hurricane Florence for area football fans (which pales in comparison to the destruction north of here) was losing last week’s scheduled SCISA 1A showdown between Thomas Heyward and Pee Dee Academy. It was going to be the Rebels’ biggest test to date, but now we’ll have to wait until the playoffs for a rematch of last year’s semifinal thriller. This will not be that. The Chargers have struggled mightily to start the season, though they played much better in last week’s 14-6 loss to a Colleton Prep team that gave the Rebels some trouble. Still, Northwood won’t have an answer for THA’s dominant running game led by a bruising offensive line.
Prediction: Thomas Heyward 55, Northwood Academy 6
Dorchester Academy (3-2) at Hilton Head Christian (1-2)
This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the week, in part because it is an exercise in contrasts. The Eagles have no running game to speak of but can sling it around the field with quarterback Hayden Shinn throwing to a bevy of talented receivers. The Raiders are traditionally a little more hard-nosed, though they’re throwing it more than usual this year. Neither team has a ton of depth, so a key injury could swing this one either way.
Prediction: HHCA 26, Dorchester 23
Beaufort Academy (2-1) at Faith/Ridge Christian (4-0)
Whooo boy, I hope they have fresh bulbs in the scoreboard in Summerville. The Eagles have averaged 63 points in two straight wins, as coach Mark Clifford has learned how to adapt his “old-timey offense” to the 8-man game, but Faith Christian and Ridge Christian have combined to form an offensive juggernaut of their own, averaging 52 points in four straight wins to start the season. Whoever can make a stop – not the most stops … just one – might win this one, and BA’s defense has been impressive of late.
Prediction: Beaufort Academy 62, Faith/Ridge Christian 48
Photo by Jim Killian / Jim Killian Photography
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