My Big Ticket games this week:
1. SOUTH POINTE AT NORTHWESTERN
Playoff, region and Top 10 implications. What else could we ask for in a Game of the Week Big Ticket? That’s what you get Friday night when the No. 4 South Pointe Stallions travel to take on the No. 2 Northwestern Trojans.
There is little doubt that the winner will be in the driver’s seat for the Region 3-4A crown.
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Players to watch: No one’s stock has risen as fast as Northwestern senior wide receiver Rontavius McClure. Trojan junior quarterback Mason Rudolph is one of the state’s best. South Pointe’s defensive front and quarterback Devin Pearson have been impressive.
Keys to the game: South Pointe will need to play a better first half than it has so far this season; it cannot rely on a second half comeback to win here. The Trojans need to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers.
2. AIRPORT AT SWANSEA
Swansea is new and improved; Airport is not the same team, either. Airport needs a win to keep the wheels on the cart after tough losses to White Knoll and A.C. Flora.
Players to watch: Swansea linebacker Byron Johnson is one of the top players in Region 5-3A, along with running back Travis Loadholt. Sir Sutton leads the Eagles.
Keys to game: Strong ground defense by Swansea could swing the game to its favor, forcing the Eagles to throw the football, which is not their strength. Swansea has a balanced offensive attack.
3. HARTSVILLE AT MARLBORO COUNTY
There are big region implications from two favorites in the tough, Region 6-3A. Hartsville is rolling up big numbers on the ground while Marlboro County is coming off the biggest upset in the state, over Dillon.
Players to watch: Marlboro County QB Xavier Adams has been a surprise. Darriell Mack will anchor the offensive front. Hartsville RB Trey Samuel has 907 yards rushing on 53 carries and 12 touchdowns.
Keys to game: Marlboro County needs to be prepared to face the best ground game it will see all season. Hartsville needs to hand the ball off to its fleet of running backs.
Abbeville at Batesburg-Leesville: In this Battle of the Panthers, Abbeville may be back to full strength with the return of sophomore quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Bamberg-Ehrhardt at Silver Bluff: Big 2A matchup with the Bulldogs coming off of a bad loss to Strom Thurmond.
Byrnes at Spartanburg: The Rebels are rolling and the Vikings are stumbling.
Chesterfield at Central: First big 2A matchup for Chesterfield under first-year coach Ike Alread.
Daniel at Wren: The Lions are roaring in 3A as a big-time favorite. Their defense will be too much for the Hurricanes.
Darlington at Crestwood: Crestwood is back on track this season, unbeaten and will face a much-improved Darlington team that could be a sleeper in the region.
Irmo at Dutch Fork: Dutch Fork played like champions in a loss to Goose Creek last week. If the Silver Foxes can repeat the performance, they will be too much for Irmo.
North Myrtle Beach at Socastee: Socastee is an unbeaten, ground attack team; North Myrtle Beach is off to a 4-1 start in this big region matchup.
Stratford at Summerville: The Knights are unbeaten and ranked No. 8 in the state, while the Green Wave continue to struggle.
Union County at Woodruff: One of the state’s best matchups and huge region implications as coach Steve Taneyhill’s Jackets travel to take on the Wolverines.
White Knoll at Spring Valley: Great match-up between two physical football teams. Count on big hits in this game.