There’s only one game in town on tonight’s area private-school football slate, but there will be plenty of action featuring Lowco teams on the road.
John Paul II travels to Hilton Head Christian Academy for a Lowco-on-Lowco battle that headlines the area slate in SCISA Week 8, but the high-stakes matchups are all taking place outside our area, as Thomas Heyward Academy travels to St. John’s Christian, Beaufort Academy is at Orangeburg Prep, and Hilton Head Prep fights for its playoff hopes at Northwood Academy.
So, by all means, if you’re at one of those big road games, post updates on the Scorestream app for the rest of us. We’ll return the favor from HHCA. Here’s your look at all the action in the SCISA Week 8 primer.
John Paul II (2-4) at Hilton Head Christian (6-0), 7 p.m.
They may only have two wins, but John Paul II is looking like a major test for any SCISA squad right now. After a huge win over Northwood Academy to keep their season afloat, the Golden Warriors will look to make a massive statement on the road against mighty Hilton Head Christian Academy. But the Eagles are battle-tested after a miraculous come-from-behind win at Bethesda Academy, and will be feeding off that momentum with their star JP Peduzzi back in the lineup.
After a nightmare winless season, 2020 has become a breath of fresh air for Chris Myers and the Golden Warriors. John Paul II put defending state champion Thomas Heyward to the limit just two weeks ago before dominating the Northwood Chargers last Friday.
Quarterback Jeremiah Young has blossomed into a superstar. He’s a monster on the ground, as evidenced by his 200 rushing yards last week, but the leaps he has made throwing the football this season have been outstanding. He’s got some excellent weapons by his side, too. Receivers Mark Knight and Malone Kinard-Huisinger have made this offense incredibly dynamic, and speedy back Jackson Ogden is the lightning to Austin McIntosh’s thunder in an offense that has found its groove in recent weeks.
They won’t get many tougher tests than the Junkyard Dog HHCA defense, who were playing on fire down the stretch against Antjuan McKay and Bethesda. Young will have to manage the game well, get the ball out quickly, and avoid negative plays against an Eagle squad that will ferociously fight in the trenches. Senior linebacker Troy Chisolm is putting together a special season along with star Jackson Lanier. JP Wilder is looking to build off a huge game, posting 2.5 sacks against Bethesda, a difficult feat to pull off with McKay’s scrambling ability. It will be a tall task for the Golden Warriors to hang with HHCA’s elite defense, but with Young’s extraordinary talent, you can’t count them out.
Jace Blackshear put up by far his best career performance as an Eagle, rallying his team back himself, without his main weapon until the final two plays of overtime. Now he gets Peduzzi back, and with both quarterbacks on the field, the Eagle offense will be extraordinarily difficult to defend. Coach Ron Peduzzi can bring out so many different looks at the defense, and the athletic talent and speed out on the field is very difficult for a defense to match. There’s more to worry about than just the quarterback duo. Cameron Strickland is a reliable back, and Riley Shinn has been a breakout star so far in his junior season, making catches on both sides of the ball. The 6-1 receiver should become even more of a favorite target of both quarterbacks.
John Paul II has been shaky defensively at times this season but there is certainly some optimism after holding the Rebels to just 28 points, a feat only two other teams have accomplished this year. Hayden Jennings and McIntosh lead a stout defensive line that should give HHCA’s blockers a run for their money. But stopping a full-strength HHCA offense will be more than challenging, especially on the road.
John Paul II has the opportunity to hang with Hilton Head Christian, but they cannot afford even one mistake against a unit that makes their opponents pay for turnovers or poor execution on the defensive side. If Young and the Golden Warriors can execute their offense from start to finish and the JP2 defense can make a stop and force a turnover, this could end up being an exciting affair. John Paul II will find some ways to score, but it doesn’t look like their defense can handle the Eagles’ two-headed quarterback monster. — Wes Kerr
JJ: Hilton Head Christian 35, John Paul II 20
WK: Hilton Head Christian 42, John Paul II 20
Beaufort Academy (5-2, 1-0) at Orangeburg Prep (5-1, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
A home game in the first round of the SCISA 2A playoffs — and a shot at the region title — are on the line tonight when the Eagles hit the road for Orangeburg Prep.
BA has the benefit of fresh legs after a forfeit win over Thomas Sumter last week, so running backs Carlos Jones and Ja’Sean Lawson should be poised for a big night if the Eagles’ offensive line gets its job done up front. HHCA was able to hurt the Indians through the air, too, so look for Braydon Dineen to target Jaxen Porter and Elijah Fess early to try to give the Eagles a lead.
The Indians’ lone defeat of the season was a 34-7 home loss to Hilton Head Christian Academy, but they’ve otherwise been impressive on both sides of the ball. OP has scored 34 or more points four times and topped 50 twice, and the Indians have held three opponents to seven points or fewer. Running backs Amir Tyler and Dylan Wilson have been effective on the ground, and quarterback McCullough Mims has a strong arm and above-average scrambling ability.
It’s never easy to win a big region game on the road, but it’s also tough to beat BA coach Mark Clifford when he has an extra week to prepare. BA’s defense has passed some big tests already, holding down potent offenses in Bethesda Academy and Thomas Heyward Academy and is well-equipped to meet the challenge of facing OP’s versatile attack. If the Eagles can come away victorious, it will set up a showdown with HHCA next week with the region title in the balance. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Beaufort Academy 27, Orangeburg Prep 20
WK: Beaufort Academy 30, Orangeburg Prep 28
Hilton Head Prep at Northwood Academy, 7:30 p.m.
After another tough loss to Orangeburg Prep, the Dolphins will be fighting for their season on the road Friday night. The opponent is Northwood Academy, a group that has had their own difficulties finding success. Dave Adams’ team has lost four straight, but will have a great chance to right the ship Friday night.
The Dolphins will need their stars to show up on offense if they want their losing streak to end. Tommy Stauffer has posted two straight 100-yard rushing games and should be able to burn the Chargers on his numerous runs to the outside. Carson King is a perfect complement with his strength and power and can get the job done running or catching the football. Despite a couple of recent defeats, the Prep offense has been able to produce, putting up an impressive 28 points against a stingy Beaufort Academy defense and then 23 against a hot Orangeburg Prep squad. The game will rest on the shoulders and legs of Dolphin quarterback Harrison Green, who has shown some solid improvement in throwing the football over the past few weeks. If Green can manage the game successfully and avoid any major mistakes, there should be no problems for the Dolphins to move the football.
Hilton Head Prep’s run defense has been effective for most of this season, and they should be able to win the line of scrimmage against a weak Northwood attack. The Chargers’ offense can sometimes be confusing to defend with different players taking direct snaps, but the talent of Carson King, Ezron Daley, and Will Gray will be very tough for them to match. It’s clear that the Dolphins’ weakness defensively has been the secondary, but Northwood rarely ever throws the football, allowing defenses to focus on stopping their old-school offensive setups. As long as Prep can execute their tackling and stay disciplined, the Chargers should not be a major threat against a skilled Dolphin front.
We’ve seen Hilton Head Prep have difficulties in finding the energy to play a full 48 minutes due to limited depth on the current roster, so it will be important for the Dolphins to find success quickly and build up a sizable lead before halftime. With their final seasons on the line, expect seniors King and Stauffer to go all out on both sides of the ball and power their team to a key region victory. — Wes Kerr
JJ: Hilton Head Prep 27, Northwood Academy 12
WK: Hilton Head Prep 30, Northwood Academy 14
Thomas Heyward (6-1) at St. John’s Christian (6-0), 7:30 p.m.
After two straight knock-down, drag-out battles against Lowco rivals, the Rebels got their rout on in a 61-0 domination of Colleton Prep last week. That allowed them to hold out star running back JR Patterson for another week, because they figure they’ll need him tonight.
St. John’s Christian has been the surprise team in SCISA 1A after jumping up from eight-man football, and getting off to a 6-0 start with wins over Beaufort Academy, Dillon Christian, and Bethesda Academy. So the Cavaliers are no joke, and that’s largely because of quarterback Nai’Ryan Bookert, a true dual threat in the same mold as Bethesda star Antjuan McKay. Bookert has a couple of dangerous weapons by his side in running back Bryce Taylor and receiver Corey Moraux, so the Rebels’ defense will be tested on the ground and through the air.
THA’s defense has been tough, though, allowing 18 points or fewer in each contest during its six-game winning streak with a pair of shutouts mixed in, and the Rebels have made some specific personnel adjustments to account for Bookert — which will also serve as a nice dress rehearsal for next week’s state championship rematch with McKay and the Blazers.
The Rebels should have an edge in the trenches with their big, physical linemen on both sides of the ball, and their secondary has been excellent when healthy. As long as Thomas Heyward doesn’t beat itself with penalties and turnovers, it should be able to end St. John’s Christian’s Cinderella story. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Thomas Heyward 28, St. John’s Christian 20
WK: Thomas Heyward 36, St. John’s Christian 30
JJ: 4-0 last week, 23-3-1 overall
WK: 4-0 last week, 23-3-1 overall