It’s getting close to crunch time in the SCISA season, with region matchups happening more frequently and the playoff picture starting to take shape.
We have just four games on the slate featuring local private schools, as Beaufort Academy will earn a forfeit victory over Thomas Sumter Academy, and a couple of the remaining matchups look lopsided, at least on paper. The most intriguing contest in Week 7 is a non-region affair, as a pair of defending state runners-up square off when Hilton Head Christian Academy travels to Bethesda Academy.
Here’s a look at all the action in our SCISA Week 7 primer.
Orangeburg Prep (4-1) at Hilton Head Prep (1-3-1), 4:15 p.m.
After an opening week win, success has since been fleeting for the Dolphins in 2020. They’ve dropped three straight, and have struggled to find their rhythm on either side of the ball. It’s not going to be any easier this week, as they welcome a strong Orangeburg Prep squad into Sea Pines.
The Indians have been looking impressive, and put it all together last week in a 34-0 shutout of Greenwood Christian. Their offense, led by quarterback McCullough Mims, should have the upper hand against a struggling Hilton Head Prep defense in all areas. Look for the Indians’ rushers led by Amir Tyler and Dylan Wilson to attack Hilton Head Prep’s defensive front early and often. The Dolphins have given up 40 points in two straight games, and Orangeburg should be able to put up a solid total on the board against a unit that is dealing with limited depth, unable to find the energy to put together a full 48 minutes.
We have certainly seen signs of brilliance from the Dolphins’ offensive group, but rarely have they been able to sustain it throughout an entire drive or game. They’ll look to build on an optimistic showing against Beaufort Academy. Star playmakers Carson King and Tommy Stauffer both thrived even against a stingy Beaufort Academy defense, and quarterback Harrison Green showed several signs of improvement. They’ll have to execute all afternoon to match Orangeburg’s attack that should consistently move the ball down the field with their run game.
If Hilton Head Prep can make a big stop or two early and force some turnovers, they can certainly snatch control of this matinee. The afternoon setting is not a normal occurrence for the Indians, and if HHP can settle in quickly and stay in the ballgame, they could give Orangeburg Prep a battle down in Sea Pines. But this team’s stamina has been a concern recently, and it only takes one mistake for things to quickly snowball for the Dolphins.
— Wes Kerr
WK: Orangeburg Prep 42, Hilton Head Prep 20
JJ: Orangeburg Prep 41, Hilton Head Prep 27
Thomas Sumter Academy (1-4) at Beaufort Academy (4-2)
The Eagles have been full of surprises in their first season of 11-man football, beginning with an impressive win over Bethesda Academy that set off a stretch of four wins in five games and included a heartbreaking loss to back-to-back state champ Thomas Heyward. There will be no surprises this week.
BA was poised to dominate this matchup with its relentless rushing attack and disciplined defense, but they won’t have to go to the trouble, because the Generals forfeited the game due to dwindling numbers. TSA began the season with just 17 players and have lost several to injury.
The unexpected bye week allows BA to rest its legs after a challenging stretch and prepare for pivotal showdowns with Orangeburg Prep and Hilton Head Christian Academy the next two weeks. — Justin Jarrett
Colleton Prep (0-5) at Thomas Heyward (5-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Rebels have faced their share of adversity the past couple of weeks, but they’ve managed to come out of back-to-back road tests with hard-fought victories over Beaufort Academy and John Paul II. They shouldn’t have to work quite as hard to notch a homecoming victory over the War Hawks on Friday.
THA was short-handed last week with Bruzza Pusha sidelined, JR Patterson limited, and Brandon Howard injured in the second half. Even without their top stars at 100 percent, the Rebels should have plenty in the tank to deny Colleton Prep its first win of the season.
Anthony Fripp is perfectly capable of carrying the load in the backfield, and if he gets bottled up, Peyton Bennett can attack a weak War Hawks secondary through the air.
More important, Heyward’s defense continues to play well, with Jeremy Clemmer stepping up with a big game against JPII. The War Hawks were blanked by Bethesda Academy last week, and they’ll have a tough time putting points on the board against the Rebels, too. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Thomas Heyward 33, Colleton Prep 6
WK: Thomas Heyward 49, Colleton Prep 14
John Paul II (1-4) at Northwood Academy (0-3), 7:30 p.m.
The Golden Warriors are tired of moral victories — though last week’s showing against Thomas Heyward was as positive as a loss can be — and they have an excellent opportunity to get back in the actual victory column Friday.
JPII’s offense has been impressive, with Jeremiah Young growing into a legitimate dual-threat quarterback and Austin McIntosh adding a powerful back in a flourishing option attack. Young’s passing continues to improve, and he has playmakers on the outside in Mark Knight and Malone Kinard-Huisinger, so JPII should be able to attack a porous Northwood defense in multiple ways.
The Golden Warriors’ defense has an unusual task against the Chargers’ throwback offense that resembles a rugby scrum more than a modern attack. Winning the line of scrimmage and practicing sound tackling will be the keys for JPII to force punts and put their potent offense back on the field. After last week’s performance, that shouldn’t be a problem. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: John Paul II 26, Northwood Academy 8
WK: John Paul II 30, Northwood Academy 14
Hilton Head Christian (5-0) at Bethesda Academy (3-2), 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles have breezed to a 5-0 start, but they’ll be tested this week in ways they haven’t been yet. Ron Peduzzi will lead his squad over to Savannah on Friday to face off against a Blazers team that’s starting to find it on both sides after a slow start. The headliners in this one will be the quarterbacks. For Bethesda, it’s Anjuan McKay, an electric runner of the Michael Vick mold who can take it to the house from anywhere with his quick bursts and magician-like ability to break tackles. Oh, and he can sling it down the field, too. Coming off a three-touchdown game, including seven carries for 168 yards plus a passing TD, the Eagle defense is going to have to be disciplined and keep eyes on McKay at all times. It’ll be a heck of a test for a unit that has been quite impressive in the first half of the schedule, led by exceptional junior linebacker Jackson Lanier, who picked off a pair of passes last week against Pinewood Prep.
On the other side, the quarterback situation is a little different. It’s a two-man show, with senior JP Peduzzi and junior Jace Blackhear sharing the duties. Both have been spectacular, and the chemistry between the two is unmatched. Blackshear was the main scorer last week, responsible for all five of HHCA’s touchdowns in a 34-14 win at Pinewood Prep, but JP Peduzzi has carried the load before, as well, scoring touchdowns every which way for the Eagles.
No defense has been able to solve the double-trouble Eagles offense yet, but the Blazers have been playing their best D of the season, allowing 15 points or less in two straight. Carleton Brown is the leader of the pack, picking up 12 tackles in last week’s triumph over Colleton Prep.
Bethesda’s offense will present a difficult challenge, and their offense will certainly keep this contest competitive. HHCA has been the most impressive side, but the Blazers have the capabilities to match the Eagles with an electric and unpredictable attack. The defense that will be able to force the big miscue will win this game, and Ron Peduzzi’s Junkyard Dogs seem like the better bet to get the job done. — Wes Kerr
JJ: Hilton Head Christian Academy 35, Bethesda Academy 20
WK: Hilton Head Christian Academy 40, Bethesda Academy 21
JJ: 3-0 last week, 19-3-1 overall
WK: 3-0 last week, 19-3-1 overall
Photo by Brooke Simons