If you look a this one on paper, or even within the sobering context of common sense, this game seems like a mismatch.
On the one side, you have Bluffton High, sitting at 2-2, with one of those being a forfeited 75-0 blowout of Battery Creek. The Bobcats boast a host of talented options on both sides of the ball, plenty of speed and relentless pressure. Not only that, but -- and this is bad news for future foes -- Bluffton seems to be close to hitting its stride. They scored 50 points last week, and despite completing only 50 percent of his passes, quarterback Alex Davis had four touchdown tosses.
"We've played well all season," Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said. "We've played real well all four weeks, to be honest with you. I feel good about all four weeks."
Cribb said even at 2-2, he's been pleased with what he has seen with his team. In fact, he admits, it's pretty much been as advertised.
"I knew they were going to give me a great effort and they have," Cribb said, adding that there have been few surprises. "Some of my younger kids have really come along. We have more depth now than I thought we did."
Thursday night games cut short the amount of preparation each coach will do, but there are other advantages. Cribb said the staff will spend Friday night in Charleston scouting three region opponents. Before then, though, there is a game to attend to. Whale Branch may be 0-3, but playing on the road is never a walkover.
"They're going to be a physical crowd," Cribb said of the Warriors.
As for Whale Branch coach Jerry Hatcher, the Bluffton game is not one many expect him to win. But at 0-3, any signs of improvement are welcome ones, and he thinks its about time his team showed it was making progress on offense. Averaging six points a game -- granted, against a rigorous opening slate -- will never get it done.
"We worked hard on offense this week," Hatcher said. "If I can see some improvement in the offense, they'll be good."
Among the obvious problems in execution are recurring missed blocking assignments. There are incidences on tape, Hatcher said, where one missed assignment has turned a possible touchdown into a busted play.
"We're not good at blocking," Hatcher said. "It's a mental thing."
Bluffton and the notoriously smoke-and-mirrors Bobcats won't provide a reprieve.
"They're deceptive, they've got great team speed. They can run," Hatcher said. "They're a tough bunch of kids."
If he has his way, this game will be a platform to prove just how tough his team is, too.
WEEK 4 SCHEDULE
Bluffton at Whale Branch, 7:30 p.m.
Beaufort High at Battery Creek, 7:30 p.m.
First Baptist at Hilton Head Christian, 7 p.m.
Hilton Head Prep at Palmetto Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Military Magnet at Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 7:30 p.m.
Northwood Academy at Thomas Heyward Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Ridge Christian at Beaufort Academy, 7:30 p.m.