The Hilton Head Island High football team enters the final week of the regular season with its postseason hopes hanging in the balance.
The Seahawks (5-4, 2-2), thanks to consecutive losses to Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Hanahan, join three other Region 8-AAA clubs at 2-2 with a game to play. Hanahan (8-1, 4-0) took the region crown with a win over Hilton Head High last week while Stall (2-7, 0-4) was eliminated from postseason contention after a loss to James Island.
Only the top four teams in the region will make the playoffs, so one will be left out in the cold come Friday night. The good news for the Seahawks is that they can still scratch out a playoff spot even if they don't beat Berkeley in their regular-season finale on Thursday.
A win would naturally be the easiest route to the playoffs, as they would be guaranteed a spot regardless of the outcome of O-W's game with James Island. In fact, a win over Berkeley coupled with an O-W loss would actually give the Seahawks the No. 2 spot in the region, which would give them a first-round playoff game at Hilton Head Island Community Stadium.
Should O-W beat James Island and Hilton Head High beat Berkeley, the Seahawks will clinch the No. 3 spot in the region and will have to travel -- likely to Columbia -- for the opening round.
A Hilton Head High loss makes the situation a bit more concerning for Seahawks fans. Should that happen, coach B.J. Payne and Co. would need to have O-W beat James Island, which would in turn would give the Seahawks the final playoff spot thanks to their 29-25 win over James Island.
However, should James Island beat O-W a day after Hilton Head High falls to Berkeley, the Seahawks would be out of the playoffs.
REGION 8-AAAA RUNS THROUGH SUMMERVILLE
Bluffton fans are probably still smiling over Fort Dorchester's special teams snafus, which helped deliver the Bobcats their ninth consecutive win Friday night.
But it did more than just keep coach Ken Cribb and Co. undefeated. It helped guarantee that the region crown will run through Summerville, regardless of what happens this Friday.
The Bobcats and Green Wave both enter the second to last week of the Class 4-A regular season with identical 3-0 region records. The means either team could lose this Friday night and still win the league title with a win over the other in the final week of the season.
Bluffton hosts winless Colleton County while Summerville travels to Ashley Ridge. The Bobcats should roll, and they should hope the Green Wave does the same.
Why? Because Summerville coach John McKissick is just one win away from No. 600 of his career, and the Bobcats would probably prefer he reach that mark before they visit Summerville with the region title on the line.
The teams will meet in Summerville for the Region 8-AAAA title on Nov. 2.
WARRIORS HOPE FOR ANOTHER MILESTONE
When Whale Branch Early College High School first began practicing football, on the middle school football field during the spring of 2010, players and coaches talked about all the firsts they would accomplish as a new program.
This week, the Warriors have a chance to check off another. A victory over undefeated Allendale-Fairfax on Friday would give Whale Branch the Region 5-A title, the program's first region championship.
"It feels real good, to tell you the truth," senior wide receiver Dee Delaney said. "I'd have never thought we'd been here, or at least gotten this close to be region champs."
The task won't be easy. Allendale-Fairfax, the top-ranked team in Class 1-A, is 8-0 and has only allowed 66 points all season.
"But we'll get to work," coach Jerry Hatcher said. "We'll see what's going on."
Hatcher said that, like the Warriors, the Tigers would rely on a power running game, complimented by threats downfield. Coach Eddie Ford's team is averaging 344.3 yards per game on the ground.
"They're going to be stronger than us, but we're going to try to out-hustle them," Hatcher said.
Whale Branch is 6-2 and 3-1 in region play. Its loss at Denmark-Olar in September was a head-scratcher for coaches but can be erased with a victory Friday. A win would give Whale Branch a No. 1 seed in the Class 1-A playoffs. A loss, and the Warriors would be seeded based on a points system.
"I looked at the schedule and looked at the talent we had, yeah, I thought we'd be here," Hatcher said. "We've still got a heck of a team (up next)."
MAKE YOUR CHOICE
Visit www.facebook.com/IPBGsports to vote for your pick for the Week 9 Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette Player of the Week.
This week's candidates are:
Thomas Heyward Academy's Ryan Day carried the ball 23 times for 231 yards and three touchdowns and added a receiving touchdown.
Whale Branch's Dee Delaney caught six passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns (24, 57, 5) and recovered a fumble.
Hilton Head Christian's Brad Meccariello rushed seven times for 100 yards and two touchdowns on offense, while making six tackles, breaking up two passes and nabbing an interception on defense and returning it 43 yards.