The great Vin Scully, when noting a player was listed as “day to day,” once quipped, “Aren’t we all?” It has never been more true than this moment, when the high school football season — like most everything else — is hanging by a thread in the midst of a pandemic. Just ask the Hilton Head High Seahawks.
The Seahawks are quarantined for the second time this season, the school released Wednesday, throwing a wrench in the SCHSL Week 5 high school football schedule, but more importantly, meaning two students at the school, including one member of the football team, have tested positive for COVID-19. That serves to put this season, and sports in general, into perspective.
But the rest of the games will go on, so here’s your first week at the slate from around the Lowco, including a couple of Thursday night kickoffs.
James Island (1-3) at Bluffton (0-4), 6 p.m. Thursday
It’s the Bobcats’ last chance to pick up a Region 7-4A win this season, and it comes against a Trojans team that has been beaten up the past couple of weeks. James Island is coming off a 24-10 loss at Hilton Head High that followed a 48-6 drubbing at Beaufort, and now the Trojans hit the road for a third straight week — and they’re coming off a short week, too.
That should be good news for a Bluffton team that has had its share of bumps and bruises, too, but will at least have the comfort of playing in front of the home crowd. The Bobcats haven’t been able to string together many scoring drives, but they do have some dangerous players at the skill positions, led by running back Kylan Simmons and receiver Jaylin Linder. Simmons is among the Lowco’s leaders in rushing, averaging 82.8 yards per game, and Linder leads the Lowco in receiving yards (191) and is tied for the lead with three touchdowns.
The defense has been a bigger concern, as the Bobcats have surrendered at least 28 points in all four games, including 35 or more in the past three. The Trojans don’t have the same firepower on offense as Bluffton’s last three opponents — May River, Hilton Head High, and Beaufort High — but they have some playmakers who can break a big one at any time, led by senior wideout Jaden Scott.
If the Bobcats can avoid crucial mistakes early, they should be in this one with a chance to win. They haven’t been in that situation yet this season, so we’ll see how they respond in crunch time. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Bluffton 22, James Island 21
WK: James Island 24, Bluffton 21
BL: James Island 23, Bluffton 20
Charleston Math & Science (0-4) at Whale Branch (4-0), 7:30 p.m. Thursday
With a difficult two-game road stretch behind them and a region title in their clutches, the Warriors return to Seabrook for a three-game homestand to end the regular season (followed by a first-round home game in the Class 1A playoffs). The opening act should be under control by halftime.
While Whale Branch has outscored its first four opponents 139-34 — including a pair of shutouts to start the season — en route to clinching the region crown, things haven’t gone so well for the Riptide, which has scored only eight points all season and been shut out three times.
Whale Branch’s powerful running game led by running back Joseph Hicks and quarterback Jaylen Reeves should have no trouble ripping through the Riptide defense and building a big early lead. The Warriors are likely to get their starters as much time on the bench as possible, but even their reserves have been stingy on defense, so a third shutout is not out of the question. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Whale Branch 38, Charleston Math & Science 6
WK: Whale Branch 42, Charleston Math & Science 0
BL: Whale Branch 42, Charleston Math & Science 3
Battery Creek (1-3) at North Charleston (1-4), 7:30 p.m.
After some seriously tough sledding the past three weeks, with trips to Hanahan and Oceanside Collegiate sandwiched around a home date with Bishop England, the Dolphins have finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel.
Battery Creek’s lopsided losses at Hanahan and Oceanside don’t tell the whole story, and they played tough in the first half last week against a powerhouse Landsharks team that should compete for a state title. That came on the heels of a solid showing in a 21-7 loss to a Bishop England team that hammered North Charleston 49-6 a week ago. The Cougars were also blown out and blanked by the Hawks and the Landsharks, and like Creek, their lone win came against Academic Magnet.
The transitive property isn’t the most reliable method of predicting high school football games, but it at least gives as enough evidence to believe Battery Creek should be competitive Friday night, and with Jeremiah Dilbert and Jaeon Allen lining up behind speedy quarterback Jacove Anderson, the Dolphins should be able to exploit a struggling Cougar defense.
North Charleston has a couple of capable runners, too, in Courtland Washington and Zane Prioleau, but if the Dolphins can compete on the line of scrimmage and slow down the ground game, the Cougars’ passing game isn’t dangerous enough to beat them. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Battery Creek 28, North Charleston 13
WK: Battery Creek 30, North Charleston 28
BL: Battery Creek 35, North Charleston 21
Colleton County (1-2) at Beaufort High (3-0), 7:30 p.m.
It has been smooth sailing so far for the Eagles, and that shouldn’t change when they host the Cougars with a chance to wrap up the outright region title. While the Cougars opened the season with a win over Bluffton and have competed in the first half of consecutive losses to James Island and May River, Beaufort High seems to be on another level in 2020.
The Eagles had no trouble bouncing Bluffton last week, racking up a 44-0 halftime lead before letting off the gas in the second half of a 47-7 rout. Their only test thus far as a trip to May River, and Beaufort passed with ease, controlling the line of scrimmage en route to a 37-14 victory that cemented them as a top-10 team in Class 4A.
The Sharks gashed the Cougars for more than 300 rushing yards last week, averaging 8.5 yards per carry in a 46-14 win, and Colleton will see more of the same from the running back duo of Amariee Morris and Jaylin Houseal, as well as quarterback Tyler Haley, who has hurt teams with his legs and his powerful left arm.
Even if the Cougars can find a way to contain Beaufort’s multi-faceted attack, they’ll have a tough time putting up points against an Eagles defense that has been nothing short of dominant. The defensive line anchored by Eamon Smalls and Alvin Wilson and a linebacking corps led by William Winburn haven’t given up much in the run game, and there aren’t any glaring holes in the secondary, either. Beaufort should be able to lock up the top seed in the playoffs and home-field advantage through the Lower State championship without much trouble. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: Beaufort 45, Colleton County 13
WK: Beaufort 42, Colleton County 8
BL: Beaufort 49, Colleton County 6
Hilton Head (2-0) at May River (3-1), cancelled
What was tabbed as the Lowco Game of the Week won’t happen after all. The Seahawks have been sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test for the second time this season, forcing the team into quarantine through Nov. 3, just ahead of the Nov. 6 regular-season finale at Colleton County, so HHIHS has scrapped its next game against Beaufort High, as well.
May River doesn’t have another region game on its schedule, as the Sharks travel to Orangeburg-Wilkinson next week and have an open date Nov. 6.
The region’s athletics directors plan to meet early next week to determine how the cancellations will impact playoff seeding. — Justin Jarrett
JJ: 5-0 last week, 16-1 overall
WK: 5-0 last week, 15-2 overall
BL: 5-0 last week, 16-1 overall