HSFB: Week 11 Primer

It’s playoff time, at least for the state’s private schools.

While we still have a couple of lingering non-region games to take care of tonight, the spotlight will be on the opening round of the SCISA playoffs, and all five private school teams in the LowcoSports coverage area are in action.

It looks like the rain should be shoving off just before kickoff, so let’s hope for clear skies, sure footing, and some good football on an almost fall-like Friday night.

Here’s your primer:

May River (9-0) at Colleton County (3-6)

Even though this is a non-region game with no playoff implications, I’m giving it Game of the Week billing simply because the Sharks are trying to finish off an undefeated regular season. May River has rolled through its schedule, picking up steam along the way. The Sharks have won their last seven games by 20 or more points, with a 35-21 win at Bluffton in Week 2 their closest margin. Colleton County has a strong ground game, but May River shut down a stronger one in last week’s 35-14 win at Wade Hampton. If all goes well, May River should be able to get out to an early lead and rest its stars for the playoffs.

Prediction: May River 42, Colleton County 20

Hilton Head High (4-5) at Ridgeland-Hardeeville (3-6)

Although this is another non-region game that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Florence, it does have potential playoff implications — at least for the Seahawks. Hilton Head High seems to be in good position for an at-large berth to the Class 4A playoffs, but another win would help its resume and a loss certainly could hurt it. The Jaguars are in the playoffs — though they’re facing a trip to top-ranked Dillon — and looking for a second straight win entering the postseason. Both teams have some dynamic talent on offense, so this one could be fun.

Prediction: Hilton Head High 30, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 20

R.E. Lee Academy (7-3) vs. Hilton Head Prep (4-5)

The Dolphins were the unlikely recipients of the top seed in the playoffs after SCISA’s strange ruling on how to handle the Hurricane Florence cancellations. Now they have to try to back up their seeding with a “home” game — which will be played at John Paul II’s home field in Hardeeville — against a tough Robert E. Lee team. Prep has played well down the stretch, winning three straight including an impressive 35-19 win over Hilton Head Christian last week, and the offense is really hitting its stride. The Cavaliers have struggled to stop the run, but they also have a strong offense, so this one could develop into a shootout.

Prediction: R.E. Lee Academy 37, Hilton Head Prep 33

Florence Christian (6-2) at Hilton Head Christian (6-3)

The Eagles are rightfully bitter about having the No. 1 seed snatched away, resulting in a tough first-round draw. Florence Christian has an outstanding running back in Eli Brayboy, who averages 10 yards per carry, but HHCA has tightened up its run defense as the season has gone along. HHCA’s balanced offense, even with quarterback Hayden Shinn out for the season, is a tough matchup for many SCISA schools and will make the Eagles a tough out in the playoffs.

Prediction: Hilton Head Christian 33, Florence Christian 27

John Paul II (5-4) at Greenwood Christian (7-2)

The Golden Warriors lost a home game in the SCISA seeding fiasco, but they might ultimately end up the big winner. The shakeup resulted in a favorable draw for JPII, which now can avoid a potential matchup with strong favorite Trinity Byrnes until the state championship game — but the Warriors have to win to take advantage of their newfound opportunity. JPII has been trending in the wrong direction the past two weeks, losing to HHCA and Colleton Prep, though they lightened the load on running backs Zach Doe and Melik Frost last week to keep them fresh for the playoffs. The Hawks have a balanced offense led by running back Jack Alvarez and quarterback Gabe Stumbo, so JPII’s defense will have to play well in all facets to give the Warriors a chance to come home victorious.

Prediction: Greenwood Christian 35, John Paul II 30

Thomas Sumter (2-8) at Thomas Heyward (10-0)

The Rebel Express rolls into the playoffs with Thomas Heyward having won its last six games by at least 35 points, and that’s not likely to change this week. The Generals have had difficulty stopping strong running games, and the Rebels might have the strongest they’ve faced yet. Thomas Heyward had a week off to heal up from the wear-and-tear of the season and should be fresh for the playoff run, and their defense is trying to hold a seventh consecutive opponent to seven points or fewer.

Prediction: Thomas Heyward 49, Thomas Sumter 7

Richard Winn (6-4) at Beaufort Academy (7-2)

The Eagles’ first season under Mark Clifford has been pretty magical, and now they enter the playoffs with their sights set on getting to the state championship for a rematch with Andrew Jackson Academy. It begins with a rematch against Richard Winn, which left Lady’s Island with a 68-28 defeat in Week 3. De’Shaun Epps rolled up 351 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 19 carries in that game, and Dawson Coleman threw four touchdown passes. The Eagles have only gotten better since then, but RWA has shown tremendous improvement, too.

Prediction: Beaufort Academy 54, Richard Winn 34

Photo by Jim Killian Photography

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