Battery Creek High School and Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School each bulled through non-region football schedules and were rewarded with relatively easy victories to open Region 6-AA.
Now both teams view Thursday's showdown at Dolphin Field as a pivotal in the region race.
For Battery Creek (2-2, 1-0), the game is a chance to build more confidence before playing region powers Bishop England and Woodland in consecutive weeks.
"Those have been our top dogs in our conference," Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said. "But it's basically the winner in this game gets to face those two for the right to a region championship."
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The short week ends with a 7 p.m. kickoff Thursday, aired on WSAV-TV. The Dolphins skipped their usual Thursday walk-through on Wednesday but did practice no-contact.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville coach Blake Raley, his team coming off a 31-0 home victory over Burke, said he would have liked an extra day to prepare for Battery Creek's rushing attack and multiple formations.
Raley said the Dolphins' offensive line looked improved from the previous season, when Battery Creek won 26-18 at Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
"It poses a tremendous headache, that's for sure," Raley said.
The Jaguars' new-look spread offense has come along through four games, Raley said. He was pleased with the offense's physical style in defeating Burke after working in previous weeks for improved play from the offensive line.
"We ran some more downhill plays -- as much power football as you can run out of the spread," he said.
Battery Creek received a boost the past two weeks from running back Josh Roberts, a former Beaufort High running back whose transfer was approved before the Dolphins played at Hilton Head Island High School.
Roberts rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown during a victory at Garrett Academy Tech in Week 4. He is expected to start Thursday at tailback alongside fellow senior Yuneek Crittendon.
"We hope to get him involved a lot more in the gameplan tomorrow," Shuman said. "He's now understanding the difference between what we do and what he was used to doing at Beaufort.
"He's looking good, playing hard."
Battery Creek also might benefit from a last-minute addition, although quarterback Raekwon Smalls might have to wait another week before returning from injury.
Smalls, the starter before suffering a deep bone bruise on his knee during the preseason, has been cleared to play with a knee brace. The brace had not yet arrived as of late Wednesday.
Smalls, in a T-shirt and shorts, threw passes to Roberts and worked with assistant coach Dave Fess.
Senior Zach Mahan is expected to start another game. Shuman said Smalls could start if the brace arrives in time Thursday, and that his quarterback has stayed in shape and knows the plays.
"It's not like he would just roll in the game completely rusty," Shuman said. "He's been jogging and lifting.
"He's been doing the things it takes to be ready when his number is called."