If this week’s edition of “Five to Watch” leaves you a little hungry for steak, or at least some good barbecue, it’s certainly understandable.
The good thing is there are plenty of outlets around here that’ll let you satisfy that craving. That is, if you’re not firing up a tailgate grill yourself.
Considering it’s the last weekend of nonconference play, too, you can definitely say we’re heading into the meat of the schedule.
1. There are jumbo backfields, and then there’s Bluffton.
The unbeaten Bobcats waited until the Bridge Bowl to unveil a 1-2 short-yardage tandem of defensive linemen Tyler Lindo, listed at 265 pounds but likely more, and 338-pound Jhabias Johnson. Both scored first-half touchdowns against Hilton Head Island.
As of midday Thursday, a highlight video on MaxPreps already had received more than 18,000 hits. It didn’t hurt that the promo had a perfect angle of Johnson barking signals at quarterback.
“We’ve got meat,” Bobcats coach Ken Cribb said, “so we’ll throw the meat wagon out there.”
(Sounds like a perfect setup for an Arby’s stadium banner. That is, if there were an actual Arby’s in Bluffton.)
Cribb has used the “meat” package before, though perhaps with not quite so much heft. He unveiled it on third-and-2 inside the Seahawks 15, then stayed with it as Lindo turned the corner on his 9-yard TD run.
“It’s hard to defend, especially when Lindo gets going around that corner,” Cribb said. “That 270 moving like he moves, that’s pretty good.”
In the second quarter, Johnson went up top for a 1-yard TD plunge. “That was a great vertical,” a smiling Cribb said.
2. Wait, who took that snap?
If it seems there are more players than ever stepping in at quarterback, you’re probably right. The current trend finds teams increasingly unafraid to switch to a read-option “wildcat” package as a changeup or if the base offense starts spinning its wheels.
Bluffton’s Jermaine Patterson keyed the Bobcats’ comeback over Screven County and has seven TDs from the formation. Beaufort inserts Jeffrey Smyth to change things up. Battery Creek uses Jordan Gwyn as more of a throwing alternative to Gabe Singleton.
Last week, Hilton Head used both Bryce Singleton and Tyler Hamilton as alternatives to Collin Kaiser.
“We have four or five guys back there who can take snaps from different formations,” Seahawks coach B.J. Payne said. Singleton, who played quarterback as a freshman, would be the top option if Kaiser were to get hurt.
Of course, now you can include Bluffton’s “meat” package, too.
3. In terms of drama, last week proved to be prime cut.
In addition to the twists and turns of the Bridge Bowl finish, which included Hilton Head recovering an onside kick and a Bluffton interception fumbled back to the Seahawks in the final minute, two other games went to the wire.
Thomas Heyward’s 23-22 victory over Calhoun Academy came on a 29-yard C.J. Cleland field goal with less than one tick left on the clock. It rescued the Rebels from a potential gut punch after turnovers squandered a 20-8 halftime lead.
Battery Creek, meantime, was left to pick up the pieces after a punchless second half allowed Whale Branch to recover from an 11-point deficit for a 20-18 victory. After moving in front early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors slammed the door by churning out the final 3:08.
4. Friday Night Lights at May River, Take 2.
After seeing Tropical Storm Hermine push its home debut to a Saturday afternoon, May River runs out underneath its home lights for the first time when Manning comes to town.
Not that things will be any easier, as Manning already has a couple of wins over higher-division competition this season. The gauntlet continues, with a rematch against Bluffton looming next week.
5. Next up: Region play.
Actually, all of the SCISA schools will have at least one region game under their belts by the time Friday’s play is complete, with Hilton Head Prep and Beaufort Academy getting their first taste.
The High School League teams follow suit next week, with all but Ridgeland-Hardeeville squaring off in their region openers. The Jaguars have an open date before playing their four Region 8-3A games without a break.