Bluffton is off this Friday night, and that's probably for the best. Hilton Head Island High, on the other hand, may never want another bye week again.
The Bobcats, who are coming off a 33-32 upset loss to the rival Seahawks, continue to nurse several players back to health. K.J. Ford and Vinny Boni are the most notables, and their returns are still in question. Coach Ken Cribb said last Friday that he welcomed the chance to have some time off, as Bluffton (4-2) continues preparations for its Region 8-AAAA play Oct. 11 at Beaufort High.
Hilton Head High is a different story. The Seahawks are riding high off that Bridge Bowl victory, their first since 2009. Coach B.J. Payne and Co. open up Region 8-AAA action Friday at Stall, where a win would deliver the team its first 6-0 start since 1987.
Hilton Head High (5-0) at Stall (1-4), 7:30 p.m.
B.J. Payne has preached all week about not having that "letdown game." The Bluffton week is over, and a pair of 5-0 region rivals aren't yet of concern.
It's all about Stall right now, he says.
"You've got to prepare each week," Payne said. "Every week you have to prepare and worry about being 1-0 each week. That's the biggest thing. We can't look ahead."
No, the Seahawks cannot look ahead. But honestly, it may not hurt them even if they did. Stall is 1-4 this season, and yes, it has lost a pair of games by two and five points. But consider this: the Warriors' four non-region losses were to a pair of Class 1-A teams and a pair of Class 2-A teams. They have yet to play a team from their own classification.
"This team is focused," Payne said of his Seahawks. " ... Obviously, that (Bluffton) win was a huge one for our program, that's the biggest here in a really long team. But we're not playing a five-game season. They can't get caught up in the hoopla."
Stall's biggest weapon comes in the form of receiver Jordan Carswell, who played quarterback for the Warriors last season. He racked up 348 yards of total offense and five scores against the Seahawks while under center, although Hilton Head High emerged with the 46-35 win.
"He's dynamic," Payne said of Carswell. "He's got the ability to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He's a kid that, he can really hurt you. He can put a lot of strain on your defense."
But don't be fooled, Stall's offense isn't much of a troublesome one even with Carswell. The Warriors have averaged just under 16 points per game this season and were shut out by 1-A Baptist Hill in the season opener. They have, however, scored 21 points in each of their last two games.
A win would clinch Hilton Head High's first winning season since 2010, where then-coach Tim Singleton led the Seahawks to a 6-5 mark. They also, as noted above, would become 6-0 for the first time since 1987. That should be plenty of motivation for this team, no?
Prediction: Hilton Head High wins in a runaway, much like it did in its first four non-region games. The Seahawks improve to a 6-0 with the meat of their schedule coming up. Hilton Head High 46, Stall 10.