Pack a jacket and make your way to the nearest beacon of light, folks, it’s Friday night in October.
A chill — and a good bit of tension — will fill the air when we kick off Week 9 of the high school football season tonight with a slate of nine games featuring local teams. We have teams fighting for playoff spots, higher seeds, and even region crowns.
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.
My picks went 6-2 last week, making me 57-15 on the season. Here’s your primer for tonight’s games:
LOWCOSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK
John Paul II (5-2, 3-0) at Hilton Head Christian (5-2, 2-0)
It’s always a good time when we have a Lowco-on-Lowco showdown with a region title hanging in the balance, and that’s the case tonight when these SCISA Region 2-2A rivals kickoff Week 9 at 7 p.m. Something has to give, as both teams have won five straight following 0-2 starts. The matchup is one in which each team’s offensive strength — HHCA’s spread passing game and JPII’s power running game — plays against the opponent’s defensive weakness. The Eagles have been tested by a couple of strong running teams the past couple of weeks, though, and they’ve passed the test. JPII’s focus will be trying to take away versatile HHCA star Daniel Harrington and force someone else to beat them, while the Eagles are likely to load the box to try to slow down Zach Doe and Melik Frost and force the Golden Warriors to the air. Both jobs are easier said than done, but the defense that schemes a way to succeed will put its team over the top. Another big factor is the status of HHCA quarterback Hayden Shinn, who left last week’s 15-13 win over Colleton Prep early. If he’s unable to play, it forces the Eagles to put one of their playmakers — likely Harrington or JP Peduzzi — at quarterback and changes their offensive dynamic.
Prediction: John Paul II 34, Hilton Head Christian 33
Hilton Head High (4-3, 0-1) at Beaufort High (3-5, 0-1)
A playoff spot is on the line tonight on Lady’s Island, and it’s an interesting matchup of two unpredictable teams. Both teams have struggled to stop the run, but neither has run the ball terribly effectively in recent weeks. Beaufort’s offense has been out of sorts, especially in the passing game, and has to find a way to be more two-dimensional to have a chance. The Seahawks will work to get the ball to their athletic receivers in space and hope to break tackles and turn short passes into big plays. A key turnover could flip this one either way.
Prediction: Beaufort High 31, Hilton Head High 30
Bluffton (3-4, 1-0) at Colleton County (3-4, 1-0)
After a week off, the Bobcats return to Region 7-4A play with a matchup that could ultimately decide the region title. Bluffton will have its hands full against an excellent Cougars ground game led by Shykeim Chisholm, but the Bobcats have made huge strides against the run since being gashed early in the season, and having Jaylon Thompson back at linebacker makes a big difference. If Bluffton can connect on a couple of deep balls in the passing game, the Bobcats should be able to get out of Walterboro with a win.
Prediction: Bluffton 31, Colleton County 28
Battery Creek (2-6, 2-1) at May River (7-0, 2-0)
This is the last hurdle for May River to clear to claim the de facto Beaufort County championship after rolling past Beaufort High last week. The Sharks came out a bit flat in the first quarter against the Eagles but returned to their dominant form the rest of the way. The Dolphins are finally showing signs of being the team they were toward the end of last season, having won two straight to clinch a playoff spot, but May River is too strong on both sides of the ball for Battery Creek to make it three in a row.
Prediction: May River 34, Battery Creek 13
Wade Hampton (6-1, 2-0) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (2-5, 0-2)
The Jaguars have lost five straight after a crushing 13-12 loss at Battery Creek last week in which they gave up the winning score in the final minute. It doesn’t get any easier with the Red Devils visiting Jasper County. Wade Hampton’s powerful ground game is a handful, and while the Red Devils’ defense has given up quite a few points of late, the Jags haven’t scored more than 12 points in any of their last three games.
Prediction: Wade Hampton 52, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 26
Bamberg-Ehrhardt (7-0, 2-0) at Whale Branch (5-3, 1-2)
After a one-week hiatus from taking on state powers, the Warriors welcome fourth-ranked Bamberg-Ehrhardt to Seabrook for a Region 5-2A matchup. The Raiders not only are undefeated, but they have been utterly dominant, including a 57-20 win over a strong 3A program in Wade Hampton. It’s not unthinkable that Whale Branch could pull off the upset at home, but the Warriors will have to play disciplined, flawless football from start to finish.
Prediction: Bamberg-Ehrhardt 33, Whale Branch 16
Thomas Heyward (9-0, 4-0) at Dorchester Academy (3-5, 2-1)
The Rebels are in the midst of an utterly dominant stretch in which they’ve scored at least 40 points and allowed seven or fewer in five consecutive games. This is Thomas Heyward’s final regular-season test — though it likely won’t be much of one — before the Rebels get a week off heading into the playoffs. The Raiders gave up 30 points in a loss at Hilton Head Prep last week, and they’ll face a far more potent Rebels offense tonight. THA should be able to build a big early lead and get its stars out of the game to ensure they’re healthy for a postseason run.
Prediction: Thomas Heyward 45, Dorchester Academy 7
Hilton Head Prep (2-5, 0-1) at Northwood Academy (0-8, 0-2)
The Dolphins haven’t won back-to-back games since 2015, but they have a chance to change that tonight. After a series of close calls, Prep broke through with a 30-22 win over Dorchester Academy last week, and they should be able to keep the momentum rolling against a Chargers team that has lost its last four games by at least 40 points. Northwood hasn’t scored more than 19 points this season, and Prep’s offense has flourished in the second half of the season.
Prediction: Hilton Head Prep 33, Northwood Academy 20
Palmetto Christian (4-3, 2-1) at Beaufort Academy (5-2, 3-1)
The Eagles have scored 58 or more points in five of their last six games, with the only exception a 40-28 loss to perennial power Andrew Jackson Academy. They’re going up against a solid Palmetto Christian team that has total 106 points in back-to-back wins, but the defense has struggled against quality opponents. BA should be able to keep its high-powered ground game rolling and clinch the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Prediction: Beaufort Academy 54, Palmetto Christian 26
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