The Bluffton and Hilton Head Island High girls soccer teams both face tall tasks in the third round of the Class 3-A state playoffs.
But it's hard not to look ahead to the Lower State finals, where the Bobcats and Seahawks could face each other for a right to travel to the state championship.
But first the two rivals must take care of business on the road. Hilton Head High -- last season's state champions -- travels to St. James tonight while Bluffton travels to Columbia to take on Brookland-Cayce.
The Bobcats (12-10) lost to the Bearcats 4-0 earlier in the season and were sent home at the hands of Brookland-Cayce (20-4) in the second round of last year's postseason.
"We've seen them a lot of times, actually," Bluffton coach Mike Manning said. "So we're kind of excited to get back there and play them. We know they're a good team. They move the ball well."
Hilton Head High (21-2), meanwhile, must travel to Murrells Inlet today to face the Sharks. The two teams have outscored their opponents a combined 27-0 through the first two rounds.
But Hilton Head High coach Ernie Suozzi isn't concerned.
"I don't try to worry about what anybody else does," he said. "I just focus on what we have to do. If we do what we have to do, the other team is going to have to focus on us."
REBELS OPEN QUEST FOR REPEAT TONIGHT
The Thomas Heyward softball team knows it opens the SCISAA Class 2-A softball tournament tonight at 6:15 at the Oak Grove Softbal Complex in Lexington. But who it will play is still a mystery.
The Rebels, who have won 23 straight games since a season-opening loss to Bluffton, will play the winner of the 4 p.m. game between Holly Hill Academy and Pee Dee Academy.
The Rebels need to win three times to reach the state championship series again. But coach Bob Layman is cautious.
"It's the playoffs," Layman said. "Anything can go wrong."
Layman says Thomas Sumter is the mystery team in the lower bracket.
"We don't know much about Thomas Sumter," Layman said. "They have a lights-out freshman pitcher who throws in the mid 60s. And they've beaten several of the teams we've beaten. They're the dark horse"
Layman is paying particular attention to Marlboro Academy in the upper bracket, as well.
"Marlboro is awfully strong," Layman said.
A PAINFUL BIRTHDAY PRESENT
Battery Creek soccer player Christopher Bockelman has a birthday coming up May 22. He'll get his present two days later, May 24 -- surgery on his right knee.
Bockelman tore his right anterior cruciate ligament earlier this season at Cane Bay and was forced to watch from the bench for the second half of one of the best boys soccer seasons in Battery Creek history.
"Its the worst thing," Bockelman said. "I understand what people who are addicted to something feel. It's been hard to watch everyone play and you can't participate."
It's not all bad news for Bockelman, though. The dimunitive senior -- he's 5-foot-6, 115 pounds -- will graduate with a 4.49 grade-point average, the highest by a Battery Creek athlete this year.
He's actually already a full-time student at Technical College of the Lowcountry and will carry 50 hours of credit with him when he heads to Newberry College next year to play soccer.
"I'm actually going for the education," Bockelman said. "Playing soccer is a bonus."
WOODWARD COMMITS TO WAKE FOREST
Hilton Head Prep golfer Woody Woodward has verbally committed to Wake Forest University.
The Dolphins standout, who is part of the class of 2013, recently captured the SCISAA Class 3-A Individual High School championship while leading Prep to a team championship. The rising senior also won the West Virginia Junior Match Play title in 2011 along with a fifth-place showing in the Junior PGA Championship and a fourth-place finish at the AJGA Philadelphia Open.
Woodward said he chose the Demon Deacons because of their strong golf program, great tradition, excellent coaching staff and academics.
He will play for coach Jerry Haas, who is in his 15th year at Wake Forest.