Bluffton (5-3, 1-1 Region 8-AAAA) at Fort Dorchester (5-3, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Ken Cribb's Bobcats remain in must-win mode. The fourth-year coach believes two victories over Bluffton's last three games should get his team in the playoffs.
That means Fort Dorchester is a crucial game for a team that ends the year against Summerville, which is already 2-0 after winning Region 8-AAAA a year ago.
"It's the same as it's been," Cribb said. "You've got to finish in the top three. I feel like we've got to win two of the three to have a shot.
" ... I think last week was a must-win, I think this week's a must-win and I think next week's a must-win if we win this week."
So, basically, just win.
"Our goal is simple," he added. "Win Friday and the same thing next week and if we can do that we can actually be playing for the region championship at home."
That won't be easy against a Fort Dorchester team which is much better than its record indicates. Although only 5-3, the Patriots have lost to Stratford, Goose Creek and Summerville, which enter this weekend with a combined record of 22-2.
"Watching the film you thought they would have beaten Summerville," Cribb said.
They are a run-first team that averages nearly 300 yards per game on the ground. Senior tailbacks Matt Murray and Nahshon Cyrus lead the way, as the pair have combined for 1,164 yards and 17 scores. Junior Kobe Garrett has added 748 yards and five touchdowns of his own.
"They run the spread offensively and they've got a really quick quarterback who does a good job with it," Cribb said. "They run a good bit. They mix it up some."
Bluffton will be without wide receiver/cornerback Terrance Heyward this week, who was lost to a knee injury last Friday against Ashley Ridge. The underclassman had come on in recent weeks, including grabbing a 91-yard touchdown in the Bobcats' most recent win. He also added an interception on defense, where he splits time with converted corner Jae Middleton.
Prediction: The Bobcats got a much-needed victory last Friday night against Ashley Ridge to remain in the playoff hunt. And while I still think Bluffton will be in the postseason mix after this week, I don't see them leaving Charleston with a win. The Patriots will get revenge for their 1-point defeat last season, as Cribb and Co. head home with a 34-24 loss.
Hilton Head High (7-1, 2-1 Region 8-AAA) at Hanahan (8-0, 3-0), 7:30 p.m.
B.J. Payne wracked his brain over the Hanahan roster, trying to come up with a player or two the Seahawks should be on the lookout for Friday night.
But really, the Hawks don't have that standout player like a Poona Ford or Khalil Lewis. They are the ultimate definition of a team, Payne said.
"They're well coached," Payne said. "They execute."
" ... there's a reason they're the No. 2 team in the state," he added. "There's a reason they're 8-0."
Friday may be an uphill climb for a Hilton Head High team that will be without a handful of its playmakers. Quarterback Ben Oliff won't play due to a leg injury, and sophomore Aiden Hegarty -- who started the season opener against Whale Branch -- will go in his place.
Second-leading receiver Ja'Carri Aiken won't play either, as he suffered a concussion last week against Orangeburg-Wilkinson. Running back Khalil Lewis, meanwhile, will be a gametime decision as he continues to heal from a high ankle sprain.
Junior receiver Aaron Frazier remains about the only good news the Seahawks have got in recent days, as he was cleared to play after the S.C. High School League overturned his ejection from last week's loss to the Bruins.
"We're still dinged up in some areas but we're going to play," Payne said. "If we play well we're going to be right where we should be."
A loss would be Hilton Head High's second straight after the Seahawks sprinted out to a 7-0 mark and the No. 8 ranking in Class 3-A, while a win would bring Payne and Co. one step closer to the Region 8-AAA championship.
Prediction: The Seahawks simply have too many question marks on the offensive end to feel confident about picking them. Will Khalil Lewis play? How will Aiden Hegarty perform after not seeing significant action in some time? Who will step up in Ja'Carri Aiken's place? Berkeley 34, Hilton Head High 14