It's natural during rivalry week for a football coach to play coy.
Saying the wrong thing is liable to tip off the opponent to a new scheme, or worse yet, produce a helping of the dreaded bulletin board material.
So it's no wonder Hilton Head Christian's Tommy Lewis and Hilton Head Prep's Ron Peduzzi kept the details about their game plans to a minimum this week.
With one exception.
"We want to keep their offense off the field," Lewis said. "There's no hidden agenda there. We want to be able to control the tempo."
Both teams have been able to do that all season with their high-powered offenses, which is why the SCISAA Region 2-AA title will be up for grabs when they square off at 3 p.m. today at Hilton Head Prep.
Led by the prolific combination of quarterback Matt Layman (2,723 passing yards, 29 touchdowns) and receiver Dimitri Lowry (68 receptions for 1,116 yards and 14 touchdowns), the Dolphins come in averaging 464 total yards and 48.9 points per game. They haven't scored fewer than 39 points in any of their seven victories.
So the Eagles figure the best defense is a good offense.
And they have one, too.
Hilton Head Christian averages 390.6 total yards and 41.6 points per game, but the Eagles have been a bit more balanced. Quarterback Luke Sirgo has passed for 1,655 yards and 23 touchdowns, but he also has rushed for 446 yards and five scores, making him the team's No. 2 rusher behind JaBrook Tucker (692 yards, 14 touchdowns).
That balance, as well as a defense that has held opponents to 19 points per game, is what concerns Peduzzi.
"They're the best team in all of (SCISAA Class) 2-A and they're the defending champions, so we definitely have a great challenge in front of us," he said.
The Eagles can clinch their second consecutive region title with a win, while the Dolphins either need to win by 15 points or more or win and have Thomas Heyward knock off St. Andrew's to claim the region crown.
Either proposition is contingent on Prep beating its rival -- something the Dolphins haven't done since the 2007 SCISAA Class 2-A championship game.
"We haven't beaten them in the last couple years, so it's a great challenge. It's a great rivalry," Peduzzi said. "It's going to have to be our best effort of the year."
Who: Hilton Head Christian (7-1, 4-0 SCISAA Region 2-AA) at Hilton Head Prep (7-2, 3-1)
When: Today, 3 p.m.
Where: Dolphin Stadium
Hilton Head Christian
Offense: QB Luke Sirgo, RB JaBrook Tucker, WR Alex Martin, WR Josh Mousseau, WR Eric Farr, TE Ryan Emery, LT Kyle Weaver, LG Cole Malphrus, C Alec Westmark, RG John Taylor Stones, RT Nick Borghi
Defense: DT Cole Malphrus, NG Robert Campos, DT Kyle Weaver, OLB Ryan Smith, ILB Tyshawn Walls, ILB Clay Oliver, OLB Zach Reynolds, CB Tyler Chisholm, CB J.D. Reichel, SS Devan Fitzhugh, FS Ryan Emery
Special teams: K Tyler Chisholm, P Luke Sirgo, KR JaBrook Tucker, KR Tyler Chisholm, KR Tyshawn Walls, PR Alex Martin
Hilton Head Prep
Offense: QB Matt Layman, RB Scott D'Amico, WR Dimitri Lowry, WR Alex Orford, WR Danny Maggard, TE Bo Strimpfel, LT Marc Halseth, LG Dylan Powell, C Devin White, RG Collins Richardson, RT Patrick Briody
Defense: DE Danny Maggard, DE Patrick Andrews, NG Marc Halseth, DT Dylan Powell, OLB Bo Strimpfel, OLB Scott D'Amico, MLB Jeremy Haidon, CB Zenon Parker, CB Alex Orford, SS Teron Daley, FS Dimitri Lowry
Special teams: K/KR/PR Dimitri Lowry, P Matt Layman, KR/PR Scott D'Amico
Hilton Head High at Bluffton
Thanks to a prior meeting this season, the fifth annual Bridge Bowl takes on a bit of a different twist tonight -- Hilton Head High visits Bobcat Stadium as underdogs for the first time in the football rivalry.
Hilton Head High and Bluffton High School met in the season opener in Week 0 -- and the results weren't typical. The Bobcats earned their first ever win against their rivals, a 39-0 victory in a game in which the Bridge Bowl trophy was not on the line. The Bobcats rushed for 214 yards and held the Seahawks to minus-7 total yards of offense.
The blowout will certainly have its imprint on tonight's game, as neither team has forgotten the result.
"We like being the underdogs. We like to climb the ladder -- we like to chase the cat," Seahawks coach Tim Singleton said. "We're going to get our opportunity to do that."
Since the opener, the two teams have spun in opposite directions.
The win jumpstarted the best season in Bluffton's short history. The Bobcats reeled off eight straight victories to start the year before falling 26-25 to Berkeley in a heartbreaker last Friday that may have determined the Region 7-AAA champion.
"If I could go back and change the result, I wouldn't do it," Bobcats coach Ken Cribb said. "You learn from a game like that that you have to be better. You have to pay attention to the details. It takes all three phases to win a football game."
Berkeley can close out the region title with a win against Cane Bay tonight. The Bobcats, though, do still have an outside shot of earning the league's title. With a win and a Berkeley loss, three teams would be tied atop the region standings -- Bluffton, Berkeley and Cane Bay, each with one loss -- and Bluffton would be awarded the championship on the tiebreaker of overall win percentage.
The Seahawks have also clinched their spot in the postseason, but they can help their chances at a better seed by upsetting Bluffton. To accomplish that, they would need to vastly improve on their offensive and defensive performance in Week 0.
"We have to play a whole lot better -- they whipped our butts up and down the field," Singleton said. "We are better prepared now. We are a different football team than we were Week 0."
Who: Hilton Head High (4-5, 2-2 Region 7-AAA) at Bluffton High School (8-1, 3-1)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bobcat Stadium
Offense: QB C.J. Frazier, WB Eric Boyles, WB C.J. Johnson, FB Zachary Scott, WR B.J. Kitty, WR Marquis Webber, C Chris Tillotson, RG Andrew Nickerl, RT Michael Sulka, LG Yerko Castedo, RT Austin Chittum.
Defense: DE Alfonza Powell, DE B.J. Kitty, DT Anthony Gardner, DT Ladarius Hughes, ILB Michael Grant, ILB Lewis Black, OLB Taylor McDonnell, OLB Jimmy Tillman, CB Muhammed Abdul-Malik, CB Anthony Smith, FS Travis Ramsey.
Special Teams: K/P Mallie Sprouse, KR Eric Boyles.
Hilton Head High
Offense: QB Michael Julian, RB Matt Bex, FB Mike Fotia, WR Robbie Iulo, WR Adam Orischak, TE/WR Desmond Bush, LT Hunter Anderson, LG Robert Moody, C Jake Morris, RG Brandon Foss, RT Justin Keller.
Defense: DE Raheem Williams, DE Taylor Place, DT Melvin Fields, DT Donnell Mitchell, OLB Luke Barsness, OLB Jacob Lewis, MLB Tim Rivers, CB Shakane Simmons, CB Tony Clark, SS Lamond Wililams, FS Kevin Champen.
Special Teams: K Weston Mott, P Michael Julian, KR Matt Bex.
Summerville at Beaufort High
The past two seasons, this stretch has been unkind to Beaufort High School's football team.
The Eagles dropped their final three games in 2008 and 2009 -- the final two of the regular season and a playoff game. The late-season slide could be attributed to Beaufort High's backloaded schedule.
Summerville and Goose Creek greet the Eagles to end the regular season for a third consecutive season. Starting tonight with the Green Wave, Beaufort High hopes for a better finish.
"This has been, the past two years, kind of the start of the decline of the season," Eagles quarterback Beau Brown said. "But we've worked hard this year to really make it the uprise (rather) than the fall."
Beaufort High will try for its first win over Summerville since 2005. The Green Wave's lone loss came to unbeaten Goose Creek, a 64-57 shootout in September.
On defense, the Eagles will be wary of the sweeps and bootlegs the Green Wave run out of their power-I formation. Beaufort High players said they haven't faced a similar formation all year. Summerville's spread will be familiar -- James Island ran a similar scheme -- but Beaufort High coaches have warned their players the Green Wave's execution will be better.
"They're probably the bext executing team we've seen," Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford said. "They've got a lot of weapons."
Clifford said Summerville's defense gets to the ball well and that the Eagles will have to stay on their blocks. Beaufort High running back Josh McPherson, out last week with a groin injury, is expected back.
Who: Summerville (8-1, 2-0 Region 8-AAAA) at Beaufort High (8-1, 2-1)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Eagle Stadium
Offense: QB Beau Brown, FB Alex Simmons, TB D'Vonta Cohen, TE Tyler Cieplowski, RT Cody Beals, RG Jabari Washington, C Rob Dennis, LG Benji Calderon, LT Seth Long, WR Dymonte Gwathney, WR Tre Austin
Defense: DE DeEndre Jefferson-Fields, DE Michael Bedwell, DT Dalvin Broussard, DT Detrell Gantt, ILB Kevin Gess, ILB Maliek Maldonado, OLB Malcolm Dantzler, OLB JaClay Mixon, CB Jalin Mack, CB Calvin Atkins, FS Davonte Green
Special teams: P Kyle Clark, K Kyle Clark, K Mitchell Stewart, KR/PR Luke Smith, KR/PR JaClay Mixon, KR D'Vonta Cohen.
Hardeeville at Ridgeland
Ridgeland High School football coach Richard Kirkland hopes for a change in behavior from his team before tonight.
The Jaguars, on a high after winning their past five games, did not have the best week of practice, Kirkland said. But he's counting on the magnitude of the game to grab his players' focus.
Ridgeland plays host to rival Hardeeville High School tonight. The winner can claim bragging rights and second place in Region 5-A, one of the toughest leagues in the state for Class 1-A.
The teams are 1-1 against each other since the Jasper County split.
"If they're not up for this game, then I don't know what they'd be up for," Kirkland said.
Hardeeville rides a wave of momentum into tonight's rivalry game. It has won five of its past six games after losing its first three to open the season.
The Hurricanes won last year's matchup, 14-6. Coach Blake Raley said he expects another close game tonight.
"I'm confident that our seniors won't allow us to get caught up in the hoopla surrounding the game," Raley said. "And hopefully it will be one that folks around here can talk about for years to come."
At this point in the season, there is little secret to what Ridgeland and Hardeeville will try to do offensively. The Hurricanes have rushed the ball nearly six times as much as they have thrown it, relying on the one-two punch of Jarrell Knighton and Michael Kinlaw in the backfield.
The Jaguars also do their work on the ground. They average more than 300 rushing yards per game and score an average of 36 points.
That's where Kirkland's personnel strengths lie and where he plans to rest Ridgeland's fate.
"That's the plan," he said. "We want to run the ball. We try to do what teams give us, but our first thing is the run."
Who: Hardeeville (5-4, 5-1 Region 5-A) Ridgeland (6-3, 5-1)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Jasper County Stadium
Offense: QB Donald Scott, RB Michael Kinlaw, RB Jarrell Knighton, WR Brandon Blackshear, TE Dominique Riley, WR Charlie Morrison-Ford, OL Jamal Kinlaw, OL Christopher Campbell, OL Landon Johnson, OL Xavier Gist, OL Demetrius Garvin.
Defense: DL Landon Johnson, DL Demetrius Garvin , DL Gabriel Washington, DL Philip Harris, LB Amar Wilkins, LB Dominique Riley, LB Brandon Blackshear, LB Terrell Knighton, DB Donald Scott, DB Charlie Morrison-Ford, DB Aaron Grant.
Special teams: P Charlie Morrison-Ford, K Philip Harris.
Offense: QB Xavier Capers, RB Tyboshie Mikell, RB Jerry Scott, RB Torray Amlett, WR Hamilton Harris, WR Tyron Mikell, OT Jacque Polite, OT Aaron Watson, OG Larry Jackson, OG Wesley Scott, C Damon Jackson
Defense: DT Jaquel Howard, DT Larry Jackson, DE Jacquel Polite, DE Wesley Scott, LB Derrick Solomon, LB Damon Gadson, OLB Jerry Scott, OLB Shaquille Grant, CB Immanual White, CB Xavier Capers, FS Tyron Mikell
Special teams: K Xavier Capers, P Tyron Mikell, R Torray Amlett, R Shaquille Grant
St. Andrew's at Thomas Heyward
The Rebels' playoff hopes are hanging by the flimsiest of threads -- they need to win and have winless First Baptist upset Northwood Academy to get in -- and they'll be short-handed in trying to hold up their end of the deal.
Because of numerous injuries, Thomas Heyward will dress only 14 players, coach Nic Shuford said.
Nonetheless, the Rebels are hopeful of finishing the season on a strong note and ending with a winning record.
"We're going to try to do the same thing we did last week except do it longer," Shuford said, referring to a 41-14 loss to Hilton Head Christian in which his team was tied at 14 shortly before halftime. "We came out and played them a heck of a football game for a half."
Finishing strong has been a problem for the Rebels as the season has gone on and their roster has continued to dwindle because of injuries. It won't get any easier against St. Andrew's, which is known for its power running game and its ability to wear opponents down in the second half.
"We know our backs are against the wall and they're a good football team," Shuford said. "But we're going to go out and give them all we've got."
Who: St. Andrew's (7-2, 3-1 SCISAA Region 2-AA) at Thomas Heyward (5-4, 1-3)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Harvey-Beach Stadium
Offense: QB JD Tuten, RB Logan Mock, RB Hayden Daley, TE James Rumfelt, WR Dylan Crosby, SE Anthony Arcuri, LT Nick Ashcraft, LG Shane Mixson, C Coulter Bergmann, RG Mercer Clark, RT Devon Riley
Defense: DE James Rumfelt, DT Shane Mixson, NG Nick Ashcraft, DT Coulter Bergmann, DE Mercer Clark, LB Devon Riley, LB Hayden Daley, CB Logan Mock, CB Anthony Arcuri, FS JD Tuten, SS Dylan Crosby
Special teams: K/P JD Tuten, KR/PR Logan Mock
Faith Christian at Beaufort Academy
With the playoffs out of reach, Beaufort Academy plans on using tonight's season finale against Faith Christian as a recruiting tool.
"We've got some good athletes in the school that are sitting on the fence and will not commit because they think football is just a passing fad here," Beaufort Academy coach Wheatley Alford said. "We're here to prove to them this football gig is for real and we're here to make some noise in the years to come."
The Eagles may not have met the goals they set at the beginning of the season but progress has been made. A win tonight would give Beaufort Academy three on the season, the most in program history.
The defense is also much-improved, led by senior linebacker Matt Bass with 105 tackles and five fumble recoveries.
"Matt is the key to how our defense plays," Alford said. "As far as how we go as a team, Matt Bass sets the tone."
Faith Christian, a first-year program, has been outscored 400 to 195 this season.
Who: Faith Christian (1-8, 0-5 SCISAA 8-man Region 2) at Beaufort Academy (2-7, 1-4)
When: 7 p.m., today
Where: Merritt Field; 240 Sams Point Road, Beaufort
Offense: OL Matthew Bass, OL Adam Chahin, OL Jordan Littleford, WR Leif Koppernaes, WR Billy Dailey, WR Jack Griffith, QB Gibson Achurch
Defense: DL Ethan Kindwall, DL Jack Dailey, DL Jordan Littleford, LB Matthew Bass, LB Bennett Fultz, CB Billy Dailey, CB Jack Griffith, S Nathan Akers
Special teams: K/P Gibson Achurch, KR/PR Nathan Akers
Lake Marion at Battery Creek
One way or another, one of the teams tonight at Dolphin Stadium will come away with a region win.
Battery Creek is searching for its first win of any kind. Lake Marion has dropped its past four games, all Region 7-AAA contests.
The Dolphins' latest setback was a 21-8 loss at rival Hilton Head High.
"It's just been a long season," Battery Creek coach Carlos Cave said following the Dolphins' loss. "I hate it for the kids that it's nine consecutive now. That's tough."
Battery Creek out-gained the Seahawks offensively but fell victim to a familiar scene. Quarterback Leroy Jennette, in-and-out of the starting lineup with injuries this season, was injured on the second series of the game and gave way to Kevin Sanders. Sanders had started for Jennette in past games while Jennette nursed a sore shoulder.
Sanders is completing 40 percent of his passes. He's thrown for 650 yards on the season in coach Carlos Cave's spread offense, with four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Who: Lake Marion (3-6, 0-4 Region 7-AAA) at Battery Creek (0-9, 0-4)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Dolphin Stadium
Offense: QB Kevin Sanders, RB Javon Livingston, RB Keenan Wright, WR Jamario Williams, WR Leroy Jennette, WR Ryan Halley, LT Spencer Butler, LG Frank Price, C David Ratliff, RG Ben Lee, RT Bear Childers
Defense: DL O.J. Richardson, DL Daquan Jamison, DL Justin Frazier, LB Javon Livingston, LB Jaylan Briggs, LB Dakody Mersino, LB Carlton Linnen, CB Brent Johnson, CB Kevin Sanders, S Keenan Wright, S Jamario Williams
Special teams: K Matthew Khardoli, K Okasea Blagrov, P Donald Furman, R Kevin Sanders, R Javon Livingston
Whale Branch at Bamberg-Ehrhardt
It seems a cruel sendoff to a celebrated season, but Whale Branch High School football will close its inaugural campaign on the road against arguably its toughest opponent of the season.
Bamberg-Ehrhardt, the top team in Region 5-A, stands unbeaten as it welcomes the Warriors. The Red Raiders' closest call was a 35-33 victory over Ridgeland in September, and they haven't faced much trouble since.
Whale Branch has won two of its past three region games since starting 0-3 in Region 5-A. The Warriors defeated Bethune-Bowman 48-22 a week ago.
Since openeing the season 3-0, Whale Branch has found a tougher road in region play. Coach Rob D'Amato's team continues to rely on its core of experienced players. Andrew Byam leads the team with 84.5 tackles. Quarterback Stedmon James has thrown for 649 yards and eight scores. And Josh Fields has caught 17 passes, five for scores, for 390 yards.
Who: Whale Branch (5-4, 2-4 Region 5-A) at Bamberg-Ehrhardt (9-0, 6-0)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bamberg-Ehrhardt; 897 North St., Bamberg, S.C. 29003
Offense: QB Stedmon James, RB Joshua Fields, RB Robert Evans, RB Andrew Byam, WR Dee Delaney, WR Frank Washington, LT Howard Allen, LG Donald Middleton, C Max Minter-Ford, RG Matthew McCray, RT Jay Delaney
Defense: LB Trey Nelson, LB Davon Mack, LB Stedmon James, LB Andrew Byam, DE Tyrik Spicer, DE Jay Delaney, DT Mytae Jackson, DT Pop McKee, FS Frank Washington, CB Charles Giles, CB Dee Delaney
Special teams: K Charles Jiles, P Stedmon James, LS Trey Nelson, R Joshua Fields, R John Little