Beaufort High School football coach Mark Clifford declared Bluffton High School a rival last week after the Eagles beat them to split the schools' first two meetings.
A rivalry requires both sides be competitive, Clifford said this week. Based on that criteria, Beaufort High prepares to take on another rival Friday at Summerville.
Both teams opened the Region 8-AAAA schedule with victories last week, Summerville defeating Fort Dorchester 24-7.
The Eagles have won two of the past three meetings in a series that has been back-and-forth the past decade.
"It's probably our next rival, always has been since we started (coaching here)," Clifford said. "Once you beat somebody, they become a rival."
Clifford said the Eagles overcame a slow start to the week and practiced with energy Wednesday, a day when the tempo is raised and offense, defense and special teams units are shuffled on and off the field working different situations.
Beaufort High (6-1, 1-0) is trying for consecutive victories to start region play for the first time since 2009. The Eagles, coming off consecutive losing seasons with no playoff berth, have adjusted expectations each week since defeating Wando at home to open the season.
"We didn't really know what to expect there," Clifford said. "Each game, the expectations rise a little bit more. This team kind of puts it on themselves. We expect to play hard. It's a big thing."
Summerville (5-2, 1-0) has fared better than the Eagles in three games against common opponents. The Green Wave's losses have come by 17 at home to undefeated Goose Creek and a 28-26 loss at undefeated Stratford.
Summerville running back Jacerie Ponder rushed for 195 yards and two scores during the win over Fort Dorchester.
"We're a much better team when we run the football," Summerville coach John McKissick told The Post and Courier this week. "Jacerie had two touchdowns and another called because of penalty. He's got more speed than any of our other backs."
Clifford said he watched a little of the offense but spent the bulk of his time this week preparing to attack the Green Wave defense.
Like Beaufort High during its win over Bluffton, the Summerville defense held in the red zone to help beat the Patriots.
"They're not big, they just play hard," Clifford said. "They're a lot like us. It will be a good matchup."
FRIDAY'S OTHER GAMES
Hilton Head Christian (4-2, 1-0) at Thomas Heyward (6-2, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: HHCA 29, Thomas Heyward 22 (2012)
The skinny: The two region foes are meeting for the first time since last season's Class 2-A state championships game, where the Eagles picked up their second thrilling win of the year over the Rebels. Both teams are 1-0 in league play and have won a combined 10 games since each started the season 0-2.
Players to watch: HHCA RB Deo'Vonte Doe has begun to hit his stride out of the Eagles' new diamond offense, as the Ridgeland-Hardeeville transfer accounted for 205 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 13 carries against Colleton Prep. For the Rebels, QB Davis Owens will likely be a gametime decision. He had his bell rung last week against Hilton Head Prep. No matter what, look for back Seth Jones to carry much of the load for the grind-it-out Rebels.
Keys to the game: Both teams will lean on their running games, so the defense that best slows down the opposing runner, while getting off the field on third down, should emerge with the victory. The Eagles are steadily improving defensively and with penalties, while the Rebels must do a better job against the Eagles' Doe than they did last Friday against Hilton Head Prep's Teron Daley, who gouged them for a career-best five touchdowns, four longer than 50 yards.
Ashley Ridge (3-4, 1-0) at Bluffton (4-3, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Bluffton 37, Ashley Ridge 20 (2012)
The skinny: The Bobcats are hoping to avoid their third consecutive loss and an 0-2 start in Region 8-AAAA. Coach Ken Cribb believes it may take three wins over Bluffton's last four games to earn a spot in the Class 4-A playoffs, making Friday night's home contest with Ashley Ridge a critical one for both teams. The Bobcats turned a close game at the half last year into a 17-point road victory over Ashley Ridge.
Players to watch: Bluffton RB B.J. Hill had his first breakout game at tailback last week against Beaufort High, as the senior ran for 169 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Alex Davis completed only 50 percent of his passes for 53 yards and an interception against the Eagles and will look to turn it around against an Ashley Ridge defense that has surrendered 42 points or more in three games this season.
Keys to the game: The Bobcats were shut out in another key red zone possession last week, just like they were midway through the Bridge Bowl against Hilton Head High. Bluffton must become more efficient in those critical situations to get a key region win. The offense also turned it over fives times over the last two games and must eliminate those errors as the meat of the schedule nears.
Hilton Head High (7-0, 2-0) at Orangeburg-Wilkinson (6-1, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Orangeburg-Wilkinson 48, Hilton Head High 42 (2012)
The skinny: Last week's game against James Island was a de facto playoff game for the two teams, with the loser likely looking from the outside at the postseason picture. With a win over the Trojans in hand, the Seahawks will now look to, at worst, avoid facing a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. That would be likely with a win over Orangeburg-Wilkinson, whose only loss this season came to No. 3 Hanahan.
Players to watch: WR Aaron Frazier needs just 49 yards to set a new single-season receiving record for the Seahawks. The two-way standout has hauled in 719 yards this season and has proven as a reliable deep threat for QB Ben Oliff, who has excelled under center in his only season as the starting signal-caller. Bruins DE Albert Huggins is the most high-profile player on the O-W roster, as the junior has offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia.
Keys to the game: The Seahawks will need to stick to the same formula that has worked all season long: run the football and play sound defense. Keeping RB Khalil Lewis healthy will be crucial, as the senior workhorse has left each of the last two games early with nagging injuries. He will play against the Bruins, coach B.J. Payne said.
North Charleston (1-7, 1-3 Region 6-AA) at Battery Creek (2-5, 1-3), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Battery Creek 43, North Charleston 0 (2012)
The skinny: The Dolphins have lost three straight, by an average of 11 points. But the schedule gets easier from here. None of Battery Creek's remaining three opponents have a winning record and have combined for only three victories.
Players to watch: Battery Creek LB Isaiah Sloan led the Dolphins with 65 tackles entering last week's game against Woodland. He also had nine catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns from his spot at tight end.
Keys to the game: Coming off a tough stretch with a winnable home game, Battery Creek must maintain focus. North Charleston surprised Garrett Academy Tech for its only victory of the season. The Cougars are capable of the upset.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville (5-2 4-0 Region 6-AA) at Woodland (7-0, 4-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Woodland 54, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 12 (2012)
The skinny: Huge matchup of region unbeatens. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Woodland and Bishop England are each 4-0 in Region 6-AA. Jaguars host Bishop England to close the regular season. Woodland plays at Bishop England next week.
Players to watch: Jaguars LB Craven Howard leads the team with 67 tackles, 27 more than his next closest teammate. Craven also has five tackles for loss. Ridgeland-Hardeeville QB D.J. Myers has seven touchdowns each throwing and passing. Jaguars coach Blake Raley compared Woodland QB Michael Barnett to Heisman trophy-winner Johnny Manziel -- a dual-threat.
Keys to the game: Ridgeland-Hardeeville will hope for a faster start than last week, when North Charleston jumped out to a 12-0 lead during the first quarter. Raley said the Jaguars need to pile up first downs and keep Woodland's offense off the field. The Jaguars' defense helped with stops on four consecutive possessions against North Charleston, including two turnovers and two fourth-down stops. Ridgeland-Hardeeville will probably again need those kind of moments to stay in contention for the Region 6-AA title.
Whale Branch (2-5, 2-1 Region 5-A) at Branchville (2-5, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Whale Branch 50, Branchville 0 (2012)
The skinny: Warriors coach Jerry Hatcher thinks his team can secure third place in Region 5-A with a victory. Whale Branch followed a loss to Estill with a 48-6 victory against Bethune-Bowman in Week 7. Branchville lost 30-28 at Denmark-Olar last week.
Players to watch: Whale Branch will continue to go with sophomore QB Amagee Stephens, with senior Devonta Glover at WR to try to open the Warriors' run lanes. Branchville RBs Austin Hobby and Denzel Bowman have combined for 10 rushing touchdowns.
Keys to the game: Hatcher said he has not defended a true Wing-T, like the Yellow Jackets run, since the early 1990s. If the Whale Branch defense sticks to its assignments, the Warriors should win their third region game.
Hilton Head Prep (3-4) at King's Academy (1-5), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Hilton Head Prep 61, King's Academy 0 (2012)
The skinny: The Dolphins are looking to start the stretch run of the 2013 regular season on a positive note while also getting back to .500 following a heartbreaking loss to Thomas Heyward Academy. Prep ran wild against King's Academy last year in a 61-0 win and may do the same this year against a Lions team that has struggled this season.
Players to watch: RB Teron Daley ran for 245 yards and two touchdowns last season against the Lions. The senior found the end zone five times last week against Thomas Heyward.
Keys to the game: The Dolphins' defense will look to rebound after surrendering 41 points last week in the loss to the Rebels, which included allowing the go-ahead touchdown with just under 10 seconds to play. A strong defensive performance and another solid run game should be enough to carry Prep to a win over the Lions.
Beaufort Academy (5-2, 4-1 SCISAA 8-man Region 2) at Andrew Jackson (2-5), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Andrew Jackson 20, Beaufort Academy 12 (2012)
The skinny: Beaufort Academy has won its past two games, by a combined 72 points. The Eagles average 360 rushing yards per game. Andrew Jackson snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory at Richard Winn Academy on Oct. 11.
Players to watch: Jack Dailey led the Beaufort Academy defense last week with nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Eagles RB Reyn Robinson (1,946 yards) should pass the 2,000-yard mark Friday.
Keys to the game: The Eagles might remember their loss to Andrew Jackson last year, when injuries and turnovers marred the home finale and gave Andrew Jackson its first win in 20 tries. Beaufort Academy is much-improved, and if it avoids the turnovers and misfortune, should have a chance to rid the sour taste of last season's finish.