High School Sports

Week 8: Rebels, Dolphins in crucial region showdown

The post to Thomas Heyward Academy football coach Nic Shuford's Twitter account didn't say much: "October 8, 2010 - HHP beat THA 67-28."

It didn't need to.

The Rebels have looked forward to the rematch ever since, and with both teams entering tonight's game at Thomas Heyward's Harvey-Beach Stadium unbeaten in SCISAA Region 2-AA, the winner will earn a showdown with Hilton Head Christian Academy for the region title.

Thomas Heyward (6-0, 2-0 SCISAA Region 2-AA) has rolled through its early schedule without much trouble -- only one game has been decided by fewer than 19 points -- and though the Rebels haven't faced the toughest competition, Shuford thinks they're hitting their stride.

"I think we're playing our best football right now," he said. "Now's the time we want to be doing it."

The Dolphins (4-2, 2-0) feel the same after their second consecutive win, a 27-7 victory against Northwood Academy in which they rolled up 314 rushing yards -- 262 from Teron Daley -- and pulled away after a scoreless first half.

"Our goal was to get to Thomas Heyward at 2-0 in the region," Prep coach Kevin Orford said. "We'd like to go into their place (tonight) and come out with a victory, which would put us where we want to be two weeks from now."

Which is squaring off with rival Hilton Head Christian for the region title and home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the SCISAA Class 2-A playoffs.

Getting into that situation requires slowing down a Thomas Heyward offense that has averaged 37.3 points and 358.7 total yards per game. Junior running back Ryan Day -- who Orford said would be the best player on the field tonight -- has led the way with 937 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

"We're going to keep pounding it," Shuford said.

But Orford hopes his team will have more success stopping Day and Co. than past opponents have.

"They haven't been tested yet. We played two big teams that we knew we weren't ready to play yet," Orford said, referring to lopsided losses to Thomas Sumter and Aynor. "Our goal is to go out hot and heavy and hopefully score first and put their backs against the wall."


Ashley Ridge (5-2, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA) at Beaufort High (3-4, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: Beaufort High returns to region play after four consecutive non-region contests. The Eagles have lost four of their past five games. They averaged 25 points per game during the losses and scored 13 in the lone victory during the stretch.

Last week: Beaufort High lost 43-21 at Wando; Ashley Ridge defeated Colleton County 41-14

Key to the game: Keep Ashley Ridge out of the end zone. In its three victories, Beaufort High has allowed a total of 6 points -- a late touchdown to Battery Creek. But the Eagles have allowed almost 34 points per game during their four defeats.

Battery Creek (1-6, 0-2 Region 7-AAA) at Bluffton (7-0, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: A pair of teams on the opposite ends of streaks will meet tonight at Bobcat Stadium. The Dolphins have lost six straight since winning their season opener, including back-to-back region games, and the Bobcats are on a seven-game winning streak. Bluffton has outscored opponents 412-41 this season. It defeated Battery Creek 63-14 last year.

Last week: Battery Creek lost 60-0 to Berkeley; Bluffton won 42-14 vs. Cane Bay

Key to the game: No team has stopped the Bobcats this season -- Cane Bay held them to 42 points last week, their lowest total of the year -- and there's little reason to believe Battery Creek will be the first. Look for Bluffton to again use its passing game, led by quarterback C.J. Frazier and receivers Dimitri Lowry and Eric Boyles, to spread out the Dolphins secondary. Frazier has thrown for 26 touchdowns this year, including 12 to Lowry, seven to Boyles and five to Jerry Scott.

Hilton Head High (3-4, 1-1 Region 7-AAA) at Cane Bay (4-3, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Seahawks are coming off an important home win against Lake Marion and can clinch a playoff spot with an upset on the road at Cane Bay tonight. Both teams have started the region season 1-1 and can gain a leg up on a potential first-round home game with a win tonight.

Last week: Hilton Head won 21-6 vs. Lake Marion; Cane Bay lost 42-14 at Bluffton

Key to the game: After a rough start to the year, the Seahawks defense put together arguably its best performance to date last week, allowing only one score to the Gators. Cane Bay is a run-first team that attempts to overpower its opponents -- a style that has dominated the Seahawks in recent seasons. Hilton Head High will need to tackle on first contact to stop Cobras running back Anthony Enos.

Hilton Head Christian (6-1, 2-0 SCISAA Region 2-AA) at Northwood Academy (2-5, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Eagles go on the road in search of their seventh consecutive victory, but they'll do so without their regular starting quarterback. Freshman Caleb Lewis will sit out for precautionary reasons after suffering a concussion in last week's win at Palmetto Christian, coach Tommy Lewis -- the quarterback's father -- said. Sophomore Brad Meccariello will start in his place.

Last week: Hilton Head Christian won 56-16 at Palmetto Christian; Northwood Academy lost 27-7 at Hilton Head Prep

Key to the game: The Eagles' passing game likely will suffer without Lewis, but Meccariello brings another element to the running game. The Eagles will need to get the ground game going early to open up the short passing game to keep their winning streak going.

Ridgeland (4-3, 2-2 Region 5-A) at Bethune-Bowman (2-5, 1-3), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: Ridgeland's season was temporarily derailed when 20 Jaguars were suspended following a confrontation at Whale Branch. Tonight marks the second and final game of the suspension. Ridgeland coaches believe the team needs to win its final three games to reach the playoffs. The schedule is favorable.

Last week: Ridgeland lost 44-21 to Allendale-Fairfax; Bethune-Bowman lost 34-24 to Estill

Key to the game: With the roster depleted, the Jaguars will again try to maintain stamina for four quarters. Fortunately for Ridgeland, many of its playmakers survived the suspensions, including Torray Amlett, Xavier Capers and Wesley Scott. They'll have to gut out what could have otherwise been an easy victory.

Estill (3-4, 3-1 Region 5-A) at Whale Branch (5-2, 2-2), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The second-year Warriors can establish their highest victory total and highest number of region wins by winning tonight. Estill won last year's meeting 52-24. Warriors running back Josh Fields turned in one of his best games of the season last week, rushing for more than 100 yards and two scores and also intercepting a pass on defense.

Last week: Whale Branch defeated Branchville 20-0; Estill defeated Bethune-Bowman 34-24

Key to the game: The Warriors did a good job last week bouncing back from consecutive defeats and the suspension of four players. They will have to maintain that focus tonight, when they will again be without thos four players. Quarterback Brandon Morton, running backs Fields and Andre Watson and fullback Davon Mack are among the Whale Branch standouts who avoided suspension.

Allendale-Fairfax (5-2, 4-0 Region 5-A) at Hardeeville (0-7, 0-4), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Hurricanes' struggles continued in a 56-0 blowout last week, and they will have a difficult time getting the offense on track against Allendale-Fairfax tonight, which is undefeated in its first four region contests. The Hurricanes are still searching for the season's first win.

Last week: Allendale-Fairfax won 14-0 vs. Ridgeland; Hardeeville lost 56-0 at Bamberg-Ehrhardt

Key to the game: Hardeeville needs to find a way to move the football, no easy task against Allendale-Fairfax, which has allowed only 96 points through seven games.

Beaufort Academy (2-6, 1-2 SCISAA 8-man Region 2) at Coastal Christian Prep (3-5, 2-2), 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Eagles have dropped back-to-back region games and desperately need a victory to keep alive their playoff hopes. Coastal Christian Prep is one-dimensional on offense, relying heavily on the run.

Last week: Beaufort Academy lost 30-20 vs. James Island Christian; Coastal Christian Prep lost 38-16 at Patrick Henry

Key to the game: The Eagles had their chances last week but were unable to convert in the red zone. They need to take advantage of every scoring opportunity to come out on top in a matchup of evenly matched teams.