Beaufort Academy fans got a little appetizer Saturday night at Charleston Southern, but now it’s time for the rest of us to dig into the first course of the annual fall feast that is high school football season in the Lowcountry.
The team at LowcoSports.com will be tracking 11 games across our four-county coverage area Friday night and rounding up all the scores, stats, and highlights we can scrape together at 11 p.m. on Lowco Pigskin Live, streaming live on the LowcoSports social media platforms and the Lowco Media YouTube channel.
Here’s a glance at the games involving Beaufort-area teams in Week “Zero,” and you can get more insight into the matchups on our Lowco Pigskin Live Preseason Special and this week’s Lowco Pigskin Preview. We’ll keep adding more content to this post so you can keep this tab open all day and night.
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Hampton Co. at Colleton Co.: New traditions can be paradoxical, but the inaugural Border Bowl — complete with a championship belt for the winner — has promise. The newly-formed Hampton County Hurricanes figure to be a force in Class 2A, and there’s a level of excitement surrounding alum-turned-head coach Adam Kinloch’s arrival in Walterboro that hasn’t been present in recent years. Kinloch’s Cougars have a chance to deal out some L’s this season, but this is a tough first task against a Hampton team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and led by dynamic back Zion Dobson, monstrous defensive lineman KaVon Chisolm, and one of the area’s best coaching staffs.
JJ — ‘Canes by 14
Wes — ‘Canes by 17
Hilton Head at Battery Creek: Spirits are higher than they’ve been for a while in Burton, and the Dolphins get to debut new coach Ed Susi (with former coach and new AD Terrance Ashe as defensive coordinator) on opening night of year two in their renovated stadium. With dynamic back Damien Freeman back and promising sophomore Chase Olsen under center, the offense should put up points, and seniors Leroy Tyus, JuJu Gordon and Donyae Brown lead a defense with plenty of speed. The conditions are ripe for the Dolphins to end a 12-game losing streak against the Seahawks dating to 2005, but it won’t be easy. BJ Payne’s team has leading rusher Troy Timko back along with quarterback Jackson Bibee, and the Lowco’s biggest college prospect, linebacker Shaikh Thompson, anchors the defense.
JJ — Seahawks by 3
Wes — Seahawks by 10
Beaufort at Cane Bay: Bryce Lybrand loves to challenge his team early, and the Cobras should provide quite a test on the road for the defending Class 3A champion Eagles. Cane Bay was 8-3 against a tough schedule and reached the second round of the Class 5A playoffs a year ago, and they return a dangerous running back in Langston Rhodes. The Eagles will have tons of new faces in key roles, but junior quarterback Samari Bonds is poised to become the catalyst behind a strong offensive line anchored by Adrian Lamb, and Rob Gorrell’s defense is always stingy.
JJ — Beaufort by 13
Wes — Beaufort by 17
Bluffton at Beach: The Bobcats routed the Bulldogs at home last year in coach Hayden Gregory’s debut, and it’s likely to be a similar outcome Friday. Bluffton has plugged new pieces into its high-powered offense, with quarterback Owen Bayes, running back Jake Ridgway, and receiver Carnell Warren all transferring in from Region 7-4A rivals to complement several key returners, so the Bobcats should still be able to put up points. And with linebacker Jeremiah Curry anchoring a defense built on speed, they should win big in their opener.
JJ — Bobcats by 35
Wes — Bobcats by 20
Ridgeland at St. John’s: It’s year three at Ridgeland for Rodney Barr, and after chopping away for two seasons with only one win to show for it, the Jaguars are hopeful to take a big step. It needs to start here, because the Islanders are coming off a 2-9 season in which they were outscored by an average of 26 points per game. The Jags have some juice on offense with quarterback Maurice Brown back along with backs Wenson Smith and Xavier Plowdeniz and receivers Wesley Jones and Jaquise Johnson.
JJ — Jags by 6
Wes — Jags by 7
Thomas Heyward at John Paul II: The Golden Warriors haven’t beaten the Rebels in six meetings, and it hasn’t often been competitive. But if it were going to happen, this is a great opportunity for JPII. Both teams have new coaches with Shayne Milligan at JPII and THA alum Tony McGeary returning from Utah to take over at his alma mater. Each team has a superstar who impacts every phase of the game, so whether JPII’s Christian Tilton or THA’s Tony O’Banner gets to touch the ball last might be the difference in what should be a competitive matchup.
JJ — JPII by 3
Wes — THA by 1
Pinewood Prep at Beaufort Academy: It doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles against a revamped Panthers team with Devonte Hollomon’s fingerprints all over it. The former Beaufort High coach and South Carolina Gamecocks star is the new AD at Pinewood and has assembled – and joined – the coaching staff, and a crop of transfers have reinforced an already dangerous roster. BA’s secondary will be tested far more than it was against Trinity Collegiate, providing another glimpse into how complete Nic Shuford’s team is, which is precisely the point. Pinewood’s defense was highly permeable a year ago and should be improved, but BA’s ground game is relentless and Dietrich Shuford can find his dangerous receivers with regularity.
JJ — BA by 7
Wes — BA by 6
Patrick Henry at Cross Episcopal: The first win for the Stingrays’ varsity football program might come in 2023, but probably not tonight. The Patriots bring a squad loaded with returners who helped Patrick Henry make a splash in its return to 11-man football. Among them are quarterback Hugh Fairey and his twin brother, Forest Fairey, who were part of the state championship baseball team along with several football teammates. Mikell Tucker Mathis is also back to make an impact on both sides of the ball, and PHA has a handful of transfers who could play key roles. It’s destined to be a tough debut for Cross coach Jared Shaw, but he has his team focused on improving each week and building for the future.
JJ — PHA by 35
Wes — PHA by 40
Savannah Christian at HHCA: The Eagles figure to be a state championship contender in SCISA 3A, but you might not know it if you only watched them play Friday. That’s not to take anything away from HHCA, which has plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball and will be well-prepared and compete — it’s just that the Raiders are kind of loaded. The highest-profile player on the field will be Savannah Christian DE Elijah Griffin, the top-ranked recruit in the country for the 2025 class, but 2024 LB David Bucey might be the most impactful. 2025 RB Zo Smalls and Bluffton’s own 2025 TE Logan Brooking, the son of NFL great Keith Brooking, are also players to watch. HHCA’s coaches will have a gameplan to keep them in it, but it could go out the window if things don’t break right early.
JJ — Raiders by 20
Wes — Raiders by 17
Bethesda Academy at HH Prep: Forget about last year. That’s over. Dustin Etheridge faced an uphill battle when he took over at Hilton Head Prep, and it wasn’t a one-year rebuild, but he had the Dolphins committed to the weight room in the offseason and is excited about the young talent that was thrown into a fire a year ago. Wyatt Harmer isn’t afraid to sling it deep, and AJ Barger can go get it, but HHP will need more from its run game and defense to turn things around. If he gets a chance at the end, you can bet Dustin Etheridge will go for two and a much-needed win. Call it wishful thinking or a homer pick if you must.
JJ — Dolphins by 1
Wes — Dolphins by 4
Colleton Prep at Florence Christian: The War Hawks announced their presence with authority last year when they stunned the Eagles on opening night, and both wound up playing in — and losing — state championship games. It should be another great matchup this time around, but both teams have a lot of work to do to get back to Charleston Southern this November. The Eagles still have the multi-talented Juels Huntley, but the War Hawks won’t have to deal with his brother, Juw-el Huntley, who graduated, and Colleton Prep still has Cole Davis under center. He will be the best player on the field Friday, and that will be the difference.
JJ — War Hawks by 6
Wes — War Hawks by 1