Beaufort High School football coach Mark Clifford regularly meets with the seniors on his team to talk about the issues of the week.
Following the Eagles' biggest win of the season last week, Clifford told his leaders of what was within reach with a victory today at Goose Creek, no matter how complicated the picture might seem.
Other than that meeting, the subject of region titles and playoff seedings has rarely come up, Clifford said. He would rather leave that talk for administrators and fans following the regular season.
Clifford just wants his team prepared for a meeting of two of the top Class 4-A teams.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
"The only thing you can do about it is win," Clifford said. "I've just never talked about it with my football team. They know it's an important football game."
Clifford and the Eagles are preparing for a supersized football team. The Gators (10-0) pride themselves on being able to line up and run right at you, Clifford said.
Goose Creek is led by 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive lineman Brandon Shell, who committed this week to the University of South Carolina. And Clifford said the Gators have big running backs to follow Shell.
Beaufort High (9-1) will be without its leading tackler for this non-region matchup. Linebacker Maliek Maldonado aggravated an earlier injury during the Eagles' win over Summerville and will be held out at Goose Creek. David Tilton will take his spot.
Other than that, the Eagles should be healthy, Clifford said. He praised the health of his team at this point in the year. The previous two seasons, Beaufort High began a late-season slide with a loss to Summerville. After last week's win, Clifford said the Eagles appear to be in better position than previous years.
"The staff has done a great job planning all year for it," Clifford said. "We're not as beat up as we were last year. We were worn down last year. I think we're fresh right now. I think we finally learned our lesson."
After tonight's game, the waiting begins. If Ashley Ridge beats Fort Dorchester, then Beaufort High and Summerville would be the remaining teams with only one region loss. And Beaufort High would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Green Wave. If there is a three-way tie at the top, the region by-laws for tiebreakers would go into affect. A Beaufort High win over Goose Creek would mean the Eagles finish with a better overall winning percentage than Summerville and Fort Dorchester. If Beaufort High and Summerville finish with identical overall records, a coin flip could decide the region champion.
The Class 4-A points system will eventually determine playoff seeds Saturday.
"I took my seniors aside and told them if they want to win region outright, they need to win this football game," Clifford said. "If they don't win this game, it will leave it up to a bunch of administrators to decide who wins it. Just take care of business and control your destiny. Play football like you know how to play."
Who: Beaufort High (9-1, 3-1) at Goose Creek (10-0, 4-0)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Goose Creek High School; 1137 Red Bank Rd., Goose Creek, S.C. 29445
Offense: QB Beau Brown, FB Josh McPherson, 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 David Tilton, 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