LINCOLN COUNTY AT WASHINGTON-WILKES
RECORDS: Lincoln County 1-3, Washington-Wilkes 1-3
KEY PLAYERS: Lincoln County-Sr. QB/DB Javon Reid, Sr. WR/DB Duke Roberts, Sr. RB Gerard Hearst. Washington-Wilkes-Jr. WR Deondre Lester, Soph. QB Donovan Anthony, Sr. RB Malik Hall
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: “The 378 War” is back for the 77th edition, this time featuring two teams on three-game losing streaks. Both teams desperately want this one, not just for rivalry purposes but to open region play on the right foot. Lincoln County has won the past two, both coming last year between the regular season and first-round playoff matchup, and the Red Devils have the talented playmaking core to keep it going. Washington-Wilkes has a sneaky amount of talent on its roster, though, making this a potential thriller.
AIKEN AT SOUTH AIKEN
RECORDS: Aiken 0-5, South Aiken 4-1
KEY PLAYERS: Aiken-Sr. OL/DL Eric Stroman, Sr. DL Omar Simmons, Jr. RB/DB Jeremiah Green. South Aiken-Sr. WR/DB Deshun Kitchings, Sr. RB Chris Roberts, Sr. LB Reid Bolen
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: South Aiken went more than 20 years without winning two in a row against its town rival until 2012-13. The Thoroughbreds are looking to make it two in a row again after beating Aiken 31-20 last season. Records are typically thrown out in the Battle of Aiken, but this is a new era at South Aiken, where the program is trying to return to the state semifinals and beyond, while Aiken is trying to find its identity under a new coaching staff. The Hornets will have their hands full at the Stomping Grounds.
WESTSIDE AT LANEY
RECORDS: Westside 0-4, 0-1 Region 4-AA, Laney 0-5, 0-2
KEY PLAYERS: Westside-Sr. RB/DB Larico Williams, Sr. QB/DB Jamison Pettiford, Soph. TE/LB Jarvis Franklin. Laney-Sr. QB/DB Mario Sumpter, Jr. RB/LB Jarvis Washington, Sr. WR/DB Jalen Lovett
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Both programs are going through significant early-season struggles, but each has the athletes to make this annual city matchup an entertaining game. Westside has been battered by bigger schools but is looking to make a statement by getting into the region picture, while Laney simply needs a win to get on track. The Patriots haven’t beaten the Wildcats since 2006 spanning six meetings.
HARLEM AT SCREVEN COUNTY
RECORDS: Harlem 4-1, 2-0 Region 4-AA, Screven County 4-0, 2-0
KEY PLAYERS: Harlem-Sr. OL Waylin Bell, Jr. RB A.J. Brown, Sr. LB Brendan Maddox. Screven County-Sr. FB/DL C.J. Wright, Sr. WR Tyquan Johnson, Sr. LB Kashawn Robinson
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Harlem has been one of the biggest storylines of the season’s first half. The Bulldogs have already surpassed their win totals from each of the past three years and are strongly contending for their first playoff berth since 2001. Screven County stands in the way as a statewide power at No. 3 in Class AA and undefeated. The Gamecocks’ last two wins were by a combined 99-0, and their talented roster has yet to be fully tested.
HEPHZIBAH AT CROSS CREEK
RECORDS: Hephzibah 3-2, Cross Creek 2-3
KEY PLAYERS: Hephzibah-Soph. WR E’Shawn Mayes, Jr. RB Rayquan Riley, Jr. DE Elijah Mayes. Cross Creek-Sr. QB/DB Devon Hicks, Jr. RB/DB Rahmeer Carter, Sr. OL/DL David Overton
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Hephzibah is making significant progress in coach William Harrell’s third season. After going winless a year ago, the Rebels are already 3-2 and enter region play on a three-game winning streak. The first region matchup is key if they want to contend for a final playoff spot, because Cross Creek is on a similar mission. The Razorbacks have had an up-and-down start under first-year coach Tavis Cummings, but the bright spots have offered optimism that a playoff berth is possible. A win here would go a long way for either team.