The second season — as coaches around here like to call it — is finally upon us. The Region 7-AAA schedule kicks off tonight with a full slate of games, so what better time to break down the region?
Bluffton High School is looking to repeat as region champions, and they certainly appear to be in good position to do so with Cane Bay and Berkeley — the second- and third-place finishers from a year ago — seemingly in rebuilding mode.
Hilton Head High took fourth a year ago, and the Seahawks will likely be in a battle for the final playoff spot yet again. Battery Creek, meanwhile, is looking to snap its two-year playoff drought.
So how will these three teams fare in region play? You've come to the right spot. On to the predictions:
1. Bluffton — The Bobcats can go ahead and blame me later for any sort of jinx: I simply don't see any team in this region contending for the title other than Bluffton. The way the Bobcats are dominating opponents is unprecedented, and while their schedule will get tougher in the region season, I'm not convinced it's tough enough to knock the Bobcats back down to earth. Look at it this way: They have outscored their first five opponents 320-27 in five games this year. The other five teams in the region have been outscored in their first five games.
2. Cane Bay — The toughest prediction, in my mind, is right here. The next four teams in the region — Cane Bay, Berkeley, Hilton Head High and Lake Marion — are all capable of beating one another on any given Friday night. For my money, though, the Cobras will win the battle for the second home game from the region. Early-season signs indicate they aren't as tough as they were a year ago, but they enter region play on a three-game win streak.
3. Berkeley — The Stags are in rebuilding mode in every sense of the word. Remember, even though they didn't win the region, they gave Bluffton its only loss of the regular season a year ago. To follow that up, after a coaching change, Berkeley opened the season by being shut out in its first three games. The Stags are no lock to make the postseason, and tonight's trip to Hilton Head High should tell us a lot about how well they will compete in the region this year.
4. Lake Marion —As usual, the Gators are a tough team to figure out. They're a completely different team from week to week, an inconsistency that will prevent them from competing for the No. 2 seed in the league. I do, however, think they can win a game some won't expect and sneak into the final playoff spot. The Gators travel to Hilton Head High next week, a game that could very likely decide who makes the postseason.
5. Hilton Head High — A season filled with distractions took its toll on the Seahawks in the first month of the season. They've bounced back to win two straight games heading into region play, but I don't think they have quite enough to make the playoffs this year. They certainly have the ability to steal a game from Cane Bay, Lake Marion or even Berkeley tonight, and adding a victory against one of those teams to a win against Battery Creek may do the trick.
6. Battery Creek — First-year coach Jim Shuman led the Dolphins to a season-opening win against Estill. Since then, though, they have been outscored 191-25 in four losses. Needless to say, it will take a lot of improvement for the Dolphins to win two games — the likely necessary mark — to make the postseason.
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