Although Silver Bluff enters tonight's contest against Allendale-Fairfax with three losses, the Bulldogs can clinch the Region 5-AA title and keep their perfect region record intact with a win.
Since concluding its non-region schedule with a loss to a much-improved South Aiken on Sept. 27, No. 8 Silver Bluff (5-3, 3-0) has reeled off three straight convincing victories, with an average winning margin of 33 points.
The South Aiken game might have served as a wake-up call for the players, but Silver Bluff coach Al Lown points to the Bulldogs' 28-7 loss at No. 1 Abbeville in Week 3 as the team's pivotal point for the season.
"The second half against Abbeville is when we turned it around," Lown said. "We've been fighting uphill since then. We were down 21-0, and could turn and run or turn and fight. We played them even in the second half, and I think that was our turning point."
Tenth-ranked Allendale-Fairfax (6-2, 3-0) features one of the state's top quarterbacks in senior Eric Priester, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound who has thrown for 756 yards and 13 touchdowns, with just three interceptions.
"He's made a lot of big plays over the years for (Allendale)," Lown said of Priester. "We can't stop him from making plays. We're just going to try to slow him down. We can't let him have the long bombs against us."
Despite his success, Priester has been sharing time behind center recently with Sly Johnson, who is a more of a scrambler than Priester, but lacks his arm strength.
Last year, the region title was not decided until the final game of the regular season, when Silver Bluff trounced Barnwell 38-6 in a battle of two 9-0 teams.
"This year, it's just the two of us (Silver Bluff and Allendale)," Lown said. It really doesn't matter who we're playing this time of year, Allendale or Barnwell. You want to win the region."
SUMMERS TIME: Lexington (4-4, 2-0 Region 4-AAAA) and record-setting running back Demetris Summers face Aiken (4-4, 0-2) tonight in the last of three straight games against area teams.
Summers racked up 389 yards rushing and scored seven touchdowns in victories against North Augusta (34-14) and South Aiken (41-17).
"He's one of the better backs in the country," Hornets coach Carey Johnson said. "It's not like he's going to sneak up on anybody. He's good, and everybody in the world knows it."
Reach Lane Kramer at (803) 648-1395, Ext. 106.