High School Football

Five area teams have playoff games Friday

Hilton Head Island High School football takes on Hanahan in the regular-season finale on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.
Hilton Head Island High School football takes on Hanahan in the regular-season finale on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. jkarr@islandpacket.com

All five of the area's games Friday are playoff games.

Win or go home.

So we'll take a quick look at each of the five:

Class 3-A first round

Aiken at Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island head coach B.J. Payne refuses to use it as an excuse, but it's an issue. The Seahawks are simply banged up.

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"That might be an understatement," Payne said. "We are minus five or six starters from where we were for the Bluffton game. As well as two pivotal rotation guys who make huge contributions."

But Payne said everyone is in the same boat this time of year, and they just have to play through it.

"Next man up, though," he said. "Our guys have done an amazing job of continuing to fight and having each other's back and stepping up.

"We don't use injuries as an excuse. We have to keep grinding and limp our way through."

Payne said the Seahawks will take some lessons from last week's game that slipped away.

"It is what it is," he said of Hanahan's come-from-behind 49-45 win. "They were the better team on Friday night. We just have to know that every week no game is over, no lead is safe. We have done a good job of finishing this year, and one week we didn't."

Class 3-A first round

Beaufort at Midland Valley

If he had his way, Beaufort head coach Mark Clifford's game plan would be to roll Omar Cummings out there for 400 more yards and eight more touchdowns.

Nights like Cummings had last Friday at Berkeley don't come along often. But hopefully for the Eagles, there will be some carryover.

"When (nights like that) happen, it makes the offensive line a little more confident, too," Clifford said. "That's good. They're all getting better and better."

Clifford said Midland Valley has a tough defense that "lives and dies by the blitz."

"One thing that helps us (is) we're a little faster hitting the hole than a lot of people, which is good against a defense like this," he said.

As a result, Clifford has bigger concerns.

"They play the perimeter real well, and I'm concerned about that because one of our best plays is the sweep," he said. "But we've been practicing well all week and worked on some things to be able to get to the edge."

Clifford told his players they simply have to be persistent.

"I told the kids, 'If they stop us, you've just gotta get back in the huddle and call another play.' "

Class 2-A first round

Battery Creek at Timberland

The Dolphins will have their hands full with defending state champion Timberland on the road.

Having so many injuries doesn't help.

"We are pretty banged up," head coach Jim Shuman said. "We have several guys out this week, so it makes for a tough matchup.

Shuman said to have a shot, the Dolphins need to be sharp.

"We have to play mistake-free football, for sure," he said. "We can't afford mental mistakes and penalties."

Class 2-A first round

Johnsonville at Whale Branch

Whale Branch head coach Jerry Hatcher sees a mirror image when he looks at Johnsonville (7-3) on film.

"They're a running football team and they don't make mistakes," Hatcher said. "If they get 3 to 4 yards, they're happy.

"They're a lot like us. It should be a quick ballgame. It should be about a six-point game. They're good."

When Hatcher showed his team the Flashes on film, the Warriors were able to recognize their own plays.

"Their plays are our plays," Hatcher said. "They do the same thing we do, except they have an extra blocker in the wishbone."

Because the teams are so similar, Hatcher said determining a winner is easy.

"At the end of the day, what has to happen is our line has to beat their line," he said. "If their line beats our line, we're going to lose. Who ever has the best line is going to win.

"If we control the line of scrimmage, we win. If they control it, they win."

SCISAA Class 1-A second round

Hilton Head Prep at R.E. Lee Academy

If Hilton Head Prep knocks off Robert E. Lee Academy in Bishopville, it will be the first team this year to do so.

The Cavaliers are 10-0.

Still, Dolphins head coach Kevin Wald feels his team can match up.

"I feel the keys to the game are to eliminate big plays, be strong in the kicking game and continue to run the ball effectively," Wald said.

Wald thinks getting a playoff win under their belts last week will help the Dolphins this week.

"I think getting that playoff win was big for the program and learning how to win in November," he said. "We've been on long road trips in the past and done well. Bottom line, you just have to go out and play your best."

Friday's playoff games

Class 3-A: Aiken at Hilton Head Island, 7:30 p.m.

Class 3-A: Beaufort at Midland Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Class 2-A: Battery Creek at Timberland, 7:30 p.m.

Class 2-A: Johnsonville at Whale Branch, 7:30 p.m.

SCISAA Class 1-A: Hilton Head Prep at R.E. Lee Academy, 7:30 p.m.

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