THOMSON AT BURKE COUNTY
RECORDS: Thomson 7-0, 3-0 Region 3-AAAA, Burke County 8-0, 3-0
KEY PLAYERS: Thomson-Sr. ATH Christian Tutt, Sr. LB Artest Banks, Sr. QB Mills Ridings. Burke County-Sr. OL Austin Milner, Sr. QB Bill Knight, Sr. LB Tyreke Washington
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The hype and implications for this rivalry game seem to top themselves each season. This is perhaps one of the biggest games between these two in the history of the series. No. 2 Thomson is undefeated and rolling after reaching the Class AAAA state championship game last year. The Bulldogs boast another deep and talented roster capable of a playoff run. No. 5 Burke County has scored 32 or more points in all eight games and has posted two games in the 60s thanks to its explosive power spread offense. The Bears have a slight 17-16 edge in the all-time series, but the Bulldogs have won the past two. This game, considered one of the area’s top contests of the year, will help determine the region champion.
AQUINAS AT LINCOLN COUNTY
RECORDS: Aquinas 6-2, 4-0 Region 7-A, Lincoln County 4-4, 3-1
KEY PLAYERS: Aquinas-Sr. WR/DB George Welch, Sr. RB/LB Joseph Douglas, Sr. WR/DE Bradley White. Lincoln County-Sr. QB/DB Javon Reid, Sr. WR/DB Midarious Roberts, Sr. RB Jamal Norman
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: After losing two of its first three, Aquinas has reeled off five consecutive wins, including a key one last week against Washington-Wilkes to hop in the subregion driver’s seat. The Irish can wrap up their spot in the Region 7-A championship game with a win here, but Lincoln County will do its best to disrupt the standings. The Red Devils could use a victory here, not just to help their region chances but to stop a four-game skid against their heated rival. A hot Aquinas team could be tough to stop, but Lincoln County is riding its own three-game win streak into the home matchup.
EVANS AT LAKESIDE
RECORDS: Evans 6-2, 3-0 Region 3-AAAAAA, Lakeside 2-6, 2-1
KEY PLAYERS: Evans-Sr. ATH Corey Watkins, Jr. QB Damekus Taylor, Sr. DE Coby Germany. Lakeside-Sr. WR Graham Tulowitzky, Sr. DL Carlos Carter, Jr. QB Will Childers
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Evans can further tighten its grip on the region’s top spot with a win against its county rival. The Knights offense has found its groove lately behind the athleticism of Damekus Taylor and Corey Watkins, and that could prove tough to stop for Lakeside. The Panthers won their first two region games before falling in a rout to Heritage this past week, causing them to play catch-up. Evans leads the series 16-8-1 and has won three of the past four.
LANEY AT HARLEM
RECORDS: Laney 2-6, 2-3 Region 4-AA, Harlem 5-3, 3-2
KEY PLAYERS: Laney-Sr. QB Mario Sumpter, Jr. RB Jarvis Washington, Sr. WR/DB Jalen Lovett. Harlem-Sr. OL Waylin Bell, Jr. RB A.J. Brown, Sr. LB Brendan Maddox
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Harlem hasn’t topped Laney since 2001 and is 1-6 all-time in the series, but the Bulldogs are primed to make noise this season with their stable of running backs. A win would also secure Harlem’s first playoff berth since that same season in 2001. A.J. Brown and Cameron Garnett have been big for the backfield this year, led up front by Waylin Bell. Laney is trying to keep its season alive after winning two of its past three.
SILVER BLUFF AT BARNWELL
RECORDS: Silver Bluff 5-4, 2-2 Region 5-AA, Barnwell 8-1, 3-1
KEY PLAYERS: Silver Bluff-Sr. QB/LB Cedrick Trottie, Jr. QB/DB Jamaal Washington, Jr. RB/LB Jimmie Foreman. Barnwell-Sr. RB Mykal Lee, Sr. LB Jackson Carter, Sr. FB Ryan Harper
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: No. 5 Barnwell suffered a tough loss to Bamberg-Ehrhardt this past week for the region championship, so the Warhorses are looking to pick back up and secure the region’s No. 2 seed against their rival. They continue to show a balanced and talented attack on both sides of the ball that helped produce a semifinal run last season. Silver Bluff will have its hands full as the Bulldogs play for region seeding, but they’ve played stronger over the past three games and have some confidence coming into the rivalry matchup.