We’ve reached the (original) final week of the regular season, which means a bunch of games that will settle region titles and playoff seeds, as well as a handful of rivalry clashes.
Although several games around the state were moved to Thursday night or postponed because of heavy rain in the forecast tonight, the local squads are rolling the dice and hoping for lightning-free skies. If you’re devoted to the cause, you could even pull off a nice rivalry doubleheader by starting at Hilton Head Prep at 3:30 p.m. before heading out to another game in the area at 7:30 p.m.
If you’re worried about getting wet, you can stay home and catch the Bridge Bowl streaming live on WHHI’s YouTube page or the May River-Wade Hampton showdown on WSAV, though watching at home is no substitute for the Friday Night Lights.
My picks went 8-1 last week, improving me to 61-17 on the season. Here’s your primer for tonight’s games:
LOWCOSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK
May River (8-0, 3-0) at Wade Hampton (7-1, 3-0)
Even though I won’t be at the Region 8-3A title clash, it’s the obvious choice for the Game of the Week (and I will be recording it on WSAV to watch later if it’s as good as expected). May River has steamrolled its way to an 8-0 start and shut down some pretty strong offensive teams, but the Sharks haven’t seen anything quite as powerful as Wade Hampton’s rushing attack led by PJ Maxwell. This will be a huge test for May River’s excellent front seven. Likewise, the Red Devils have rolled through their region schedule, and their only loss was a 57-20 setback at Class 2A power Bamberg-Ehrhardt. That’s the only major test they’ve faced, though, and May River’s big, physical offensive line and the dynamic duo of Brandon Morales and Ahmad Green will be a handful. Both teams are going to do some damage on the ground, but the team that can connect on a couple play-action passes for big plays will have a chance to come out on top.
Prediction: May River 34, Wade Hampton 33
Hilton Head High (4-4, 0-2) at Bluffton (4-4, 2-0)
Throw out the records, blah blah blah. The Bridge Bowl doesn’t have quite as much cachet since May River split from Bluffton and created a fresher rivalry, but there’s still a little heat, especially from Hilton Head’s side. The all-time series is tied 7-7, so that’s something, and Bluffton has won two straight (though four of the last five have been decided by five points or fewer). The Bobcats have already locked up the top seed in the playoffs, but they want to claim the region title outright. The Seahawks are likely a shoo-in for an at-large playoff berth, but a win would give them even more security — not to mention something positive to build on going forward. Bluffton’s offense has been more balanced in region play and the secondary has played well. The Seahawks had a tough time stopping the pass against Beaufort last week, and Bluffton has a more effective air attack. If the Bobcats play disciplined on defense, they should have the edge at home.
Prediction: Bluffton 30, Hilton Head High 24
Colleton County (3-5, 1-1) at Beaufort High (4-5, 1-1)
The stakes are high in this one, as the winner gets the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a first-round home game. The Eagles should have an emotional edge, playing at home on Senior Night, and they seem to have turned a corner in last week’s win over Hilton Head High, which snapped a five-game skid. The passing game that had sputtered for a couple weeks got back on track against the Seahawks, and the Eagles will need to keep that going against a big, physical Colleton County team that can be attacked through the air. Stopping the Cougars’ strong ground game will be a challenge for the Eagles.
Prediction: Beaufort High 31, Colleton County 28
Ridgeland-Hardeeville (2-6, 0-3) at Lake Marion (2-6, 0-3)
It all comes down to this for two struggling teams, as the winner earns a playoff spot (though a trip to undefeated Dillon would be the reward). The Jaguars have lost six straight since a promising 2-0 start, but they were competitive in several of those contests, while the Gators have been outscored 161-46 in their three region games.
Prediction: Ridgeland-Hardeeville 22, Lake Marion 19
Whale Branch (5-4) at Battery Creek (2-7)
A couple of rarities collide here, with a non-region game and a Week 1 rematch. The Warriors rolled to a 31-9 home win over the Dolphins in the season opener, but the teams have been headed in opposite directions in recent weeks, so perhaps Battery Creek can flip the script. Then again, both teams are already locked into their playoff seeds, so they could opt to rest their stars and avoid injury, making this game especially difficult to handicap.
Prediction: Whale Branch 23, Battery Creek 20
Hilton Head Christian (6-2, 3-0) at Hilton Head Prep (3-5, 1-1)
The Eagles have already clinched the region title, but they absolutely want to go into the playoffs with a seven-game winning streak – especially with their cross-island rivals up next. The Dolphins have a little more to play for, because they can clinch the No. 3 seed (and thus avoid a trip to Trinity-Byrnes in the first round of the SCISA 2A playoffs) with a win, but this matchup really doesn’t need any added motivation. HHCA hammered HHP 51-12 last year, ending a three-game losing streak in the series, but the Dolphins were without quarterback Stone McDonald. Prep has played well of late, but HHCA has too many weapons on offense and the defense has matured into a major force.
Prediction: Hilton Head Christian 37, Hilton Head Prep 20
Colleton Prep (3-5) at John Paul II (5-3)
This is a rare ho-hum matchup at this point in the season, because it’s a non-region clash with no real rivalry attached. The Golden Warriors would love to bounce back from last week’s region-title loss to Hilton Head Christian Academy and go into the playoffs on a positive note, but they’re not going to risk injury to any key players to do it, so don’t be surprised if Zach Doe and Melik Frost get a little lighter workload than usual. The War Hawks have been a tough team to gauge, because they’ve played down to some weak competition but given solid teams like Thomas Heyward and Hilton Head Christian fits.
Prediction: John Paul II 23, Colleton Prep 20
Beaufort Academy (6-2, 4-1) at Patrick Henry (3-5, 2-3)
The Eagles, who can clinch the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a win, have scored at least 58 points in six of their last seven games. There’s no reason to believe that will change against a Patrick Henry team that has allowed 60 or more in all five of its losses, including each of the past two weeks.
Prediction: Beaufort Academy 62, Patrick Henry 14
Photo by Jim Killian Photography
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