With just two weeks remaining in the regular season for high school football throughout the state, that means teams are jockeying for playoff position or getting in the playoffs period.
While today's game between Sumter and Conway is pretty much cut and dried - the winner will win at least a share of the Region VI-5A title and the region's top seed in the 5A state playoffs - not all are that easy to figure out. And, in fact, should Conway beat Sumter, Carolina Forest win its game against West Florence today and beat Conway next week and Sumter top Socastee next week, there would be a 3-way tie for first place with each team owning 4-1 records.
So . here's a shot at trying to make a little sense of what is on for the local teams this week.
Hartsville(7-1, 2-0) at Crestwood (5-4, 1-1)
Should Crestwood knock off Hartsville, ranked third among 4A schools in the S.C. Prep Media Football Poll, the Knights will throw the Region VI standings into a tizzy and give themselves a chance to win a share of the region title and garner its No. 1 seed. They would also clinch a berth in the state playoffs.
Should the Red Foxes win, CHS will still be trying to secure a playoff berth entering its game against archrival Lakewood.
The Gators, who are off this week, need a Crestwood loss today to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Wilson Hall (5-3, 3-3) at Ben Lippen (5-2, 5-1)
Porter-Gaud (5-3, 3-2) at LMA (6-2, 3-2)
Hammond is the lone undefeated team in SCISA 3A and defending state champion Ben Lippen is one game back. Laurence Manning and Wilson Hall have berths secured in the 6-team playoffs; it's just a matter of where they are seeded.
If LMA beats Porter-Gaud, it gives itself a shot at finishing second and getting a first-round bye. However, not only would it need Wilson Hall to beat Lippen, but Cardinal Newman to do the same as well.
A win by the Swampcats would secure either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed and a home game in the first round. A loss would obviously leave things in the air.
The Barons need a win to give themselves a chance at a No. 3 or No. 4 seed. A loss would knock them out of a shot at one of those spots.
Manning (6-2, 0-2) at Bishop England (5-2, 2-0)
Two weeks ago, Manning was undefeated at 6-0 and appeared to be a favorite to win the Region VII-3A title. With losses to Hanahan and Timberland, the Monarchs are now scrambling to get a home game.
Should MHS lose to the Bishops, they will more than likely be taking on Lake Marion for the fourth and final playoff spot next week.
A win wouldn't necessarily secure a playoff berth, but it would keep Manning's hopes of finishing second and getting the home playoff game that goes with it alive.
Lee Central (8-1, 4-1) at Andrew Jackson (3-5, 1-3)
This is Lee Central's final regular-season game since it has a bye next week. If the Stallions beat AJ, they will secure at least a share of the Region IV title, but more importantly, its top seed in the 2A state playoffs.
Should LC lose, it would cause a major logjam and possibly have it falling to third or fourth and out of a home playoff game.
Robert E. Lee (7-2, 3-1) at Oakbrook Prep (1-7, 1-3)
Williamsburg (0-9) at Thomas Sumter (2-7)
Robert E. Lee can secure itself finishing no worse than second in Region II-2A and gaining a home playoff game. The Cavaliers would need Trinity-Byrnes to lose its final two games to get the No. 1 seed.
Should REL lose, it would still be in a good position to take second with a win over Thomas Sumter next week.
Speaking of TSA, Williamsburg is a non-region game so it has no bearing on the playoffs. The Generals would need a win over Lee and some help from other teams today and next week to get into the playoffs.
Scott's Branch (5-3, 2-0) at Cross (4-3, 2-1)
Scott's Branch has secured a berth in the 1A state playoffs, and a win over Cross would mean it would finish no worse than second in Region V and secure a home playoff game. SB would likely be playing C.E. Murray for the region title next week.
Should they lose, the Eagles could finish anywhere from first to third.
East Clarendon (1-6, 1-2) at Hannah-Pamplico (4-4, 1-2)
East Clarendon picked up its first win of the season last week, beating Green Sea-Floyds 24-12. Now the Wolverines have put themselves in a position where they can make the 1A playoffs.
A win over Hannah-Pamplico today would likely put EC in a position where it would finish third. It could still make the playoffs with a loss with winless Creek Bridge looming next week.