MORGAN CO. (5-0)
AT LANEY (4-1)
LAST WEEK: Morgan County defeated Josey, 42-0; Laney defeated Monticello, 36-26
KEY PLAYERS: Morgan County-Senior QB Bancs Bowers (6-2, 180); senior FB/LB Cameron Kiplinger (5-7, 180); senior TE/DE Quinton Williams (6-3, 250); Laney-Junior DL/FB Tim Wright (6-3, 245); junior WR Devin Larmond (6-1, 180); senior LB/RB Johnny Overstreet (6-0, 210)
KEY MATCHUP: Laney's defensive line vs. Bowers. Bowers missed the rout against Josey last week with a thumb injury, but is expected to start this week. He is 31-for-44 passing for 473 yards and two TDs. He's also rushed for 251 yards and four scores. Laney pressured Strom Thurmond's Coco Hillary earlier this year. If they can create the same kind of rush against Bowers, he will likely wilt under the heat.
OUTLOOK: It's the first of three key games to decide the Region 7-AA title; Greene County is also 5-0 so far in the region. Laney edged out a 20-17 win against the Bulldogs last year on the road. The Wildcats have been tested in the non-region schedule and will likely be ready for a foe that has yet to play anyone with a winning record.
PREDICTION: Laney 20, Morgan County 10
THOMSON (4-1) AT HARLEM (3-2)
LAST WEEK: Thomson beat Cross Creek, 34-28; Harlem beat Richmond Academy, 49-18
KEY PLAYERS: Thomson-Senior TE Cephus Jones (6-4, 290); senior OT Jason Jones (6-2, 330); senior WB Tim McCord (5-10, 210); Harlem-Junior LB Maurice Dorsey (6-1, 220); junior QB Brendan Gray (5-9, 180); senior OL Mike White (6-3, 265)
KEY MATCHUP: Thomson's offensive line vs. Harlem's defensive front: This will be the story of the season for Thomson. Either its line will make the blocks or it won't. That decides whether Thomson controls the clock, wears down the other defense and moves the chains. If not, Harlem's run game could make this a close win in front of the home folks.
OUTLOOK: Harlem's best personnel is forced to go both ways. That should wear down Harlem against fresh independent offensive and defensive platoons of Thomson. It's time for Thomson to end its offensive struggles.
PREDICTION: Thomson 30, Harlem 7
LAKESIDE (2-2) AT GREENBRIER (2-2)
LAST WEEK: Lakeside was off; Greenbrier defeated Evans, 16-9
KEY PLAYERS: Lakeside-Senior QB/S Chris Drayton (6-2, 205); senior LB/G Paul Miller (6-2, 195); senior RB Kyle Hill (5-11, 180); Greenbrier-Senior LB Erik Smith (6-0, 220); senior RB/LB Reggie Rice (6-1, 195); senior QB Sean Gray (6-0, 185)
KEY MATCHUP: Greenbrier's linebackers vs. Drayton. Drayton will be the most talented athlete on the field tonight, and it's up to the Wolfpack's second-level defenders to contain him in Lakeside's triple-option offense. Drayton always seems to put his stamp on at least two Lakeside drives per game with his athleticism. Greenbrier has to limit his highlights to contain the Panthers.
OUTLOOK: Lakeside has played against better competition by far, but the Wolfpack come in with momentum riding a two-game winning streak. Last week gave the Panthers time to heal and prepare for Greenbrier, and that will prove to be the difference. A player to watch is Miller. He's making as many plays as any defender in the area so far this year.
PREDICTION: Lakeside 20, Greenbrier 13
SILVER BLUFF (3-1) AT S. THURMOND (3-1)
LAST WEEK: Silver Bluff defeated Allendale-Fairfax, 41-26; Strom Thurmond lost at South Aiken, 35-21
KEY PLAYERS: Silver Bluff-Junior DB/WR/RB Lawrence Boyd (6-2, 195); senior RB Travis Williams (5-9, 180); senior OL Brandon Green (5-8, 225); Strom Thurmond-Senior QB Coco Hillary (5-9, 185); senior WR Justin Broadwater (6-0, 165); senior NG/OG Otis Key (6-2, 270)
KEY MATCHUP: Silver Bluff's rushing attack vs. Strom Thurmond's defensive line: The Bulldogs have done a good job of running the ball this year, and the Rebels' front will look to step up their game after being embarrassed by South Aiken last week.
OUTLOOK: Class AA Silver Bluff isn't afraid to play bigger schools, but it was manhandled earlier this year against a bigger, more physical Aiken team. Strom Thurmond has title aspirations and needs a non-region win over a good Bulldogs squad to boost its confidence.
PREDICTION: Strom Thurmond 27, Silver Bluff 20
AT AIKEN (3-1)
LAST WEEK: Greenwood defeated Spartanburg, 27-24; Aiken lost to Irmo, 27-12
KEY PLAYERS: Greenwood-Senior QB Armanti Edwards; RB Robert Robinson; WR Xavier Dye; Aiken-Senior LB/TE Brian Leonardi (6-3, 198); senior FB/OLB Tyson Williams (5-8, 198); senior RB/OLB Antonio Corley
KEY MATCHUP: Greenwood's Edwards vs. Aiken's defense: Edwards rallied Greenwood to a win over a tough Spartanburg team last week. He accounted for more than 300 yards passing and running, and he had a hand in three touchdowns. Aiken will need to contain him if it has any shot of winning.
OUTLOOK: Aiken suffered a road loss at Irmo in a game that was closer than the final score indicated. The Hornets had too many turnovers and penalties against Irmo; more of the same will bring a loss against Greenwood, considered one of the top teams in the state.
PREDICTION: Greenwood 21, Aiken 17
- From staff reports