We're down to five Grand Strand football teams still playing. Four did not qualify for the postseason, and four more were eliminated in the first week of the postseason last Friday.
But unlike the last few seasons, there is a legitimate shot that someone other than Myrtle Beach could be the last team standing.
The Seahawks have a tough road ahead of them, continuing with this week's second-round game at Hanahan. Meanwhile, Socastee and Loris have much more favorable match-ups. Conway, well, the Tigers are preparing for easily their toughest game of the year.
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On to this week's picks:
AYNOR (8-3) AT LEE CENTRAL (7-3): As I said on the Weekly Web Chat, the biggest difference between these two teams playing this game is that it's taking place in Bishopville. Neither team has had much success of late, or in the case of Lee Central, ever. But Aynor has one thing in its back pocket - a power running game that mixes in misdirection. Lee Central's record is strong, and the Stallions finished in second place in Regoin VII-AA. However, this defense is prone to giving up a lot of points. And against teams that run the ball successfully. Prediction: Aynor 37, Lee Central 35
BATTERY CREEK (6-5) AT LORIS (7-3): Loris isn't just a confident team that has jumped ahead a year of expectations with its sophomore-laden starting lineup. It's also one that just had a week off to rest and get healthy. The Lions are going to need it down the road, and this match-up should be a good tune-up for Jamie Snider's team. Battery and Creek have a common opponent, Waccamaw. Last week, Battery Creek beat the Warriors 21-13. Back on Oct. 5, Loris beat Waccamaw 49-0. Take that as a strong indication of what Loris' defense could do in this game. Prediction: Loris 27, Battery Creek 6
CONWAY (5-6) AT GOOSE CREEK (11-0): We can't be more clear about the test Conway has in front of it. Goose Creek is ranked No. 12 in the most recent USA Today Super 25, No. 1 in the state of South Carolina and is the odds-on favorite to win the Class AAAA, Division II state title. Conway, meanwhile, is coming off its second-ever loss to Carolina Forest and has a quarterback that isn't exactly 100 percent. The Tigers will need Mykal Moody to be, well, Mykal Moody, in order to keep this one from becoming another Goose Creek blowout. And even the quarterback's play alone may not be enough. Prediction: Goose Creek 47, Conway 35
BERKELEY (5-6) AT SOCASTEE (11-0): Berkeley enters this game on a four-game winning streak, with victories over Stall, Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Hilton Head and Midland Valley. But those four opponents don't present half the problems that the Braves do this week. In the last two months, Socastee has started to mix a near-perfect combination of offense and defense (more on the latter in Friday's paper) en route to eight straight double-digit wins. Socastee is on a roll, and Berkeley won't be the team to stop it. Prediction: Socastee 34, Berkeley 21
MYRTLE BEACH (10-1) AT HANAHAN (10-1): This is the type of game Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson would love to have at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium. But even a trip to Charleston shouldn't keep fans with the means to make the drive down U.S. 17. Two 10-1 teams meeting in the second round of the playoffs is a rare treat that presents itself very rarely. As for the game itself, though, it's important to once again point out that Myrtle Beach has been building toward the playoffs with its schedule. The Seahawks played only Class AAAA foes in non-region play and then had to face Socastee and Georgetown in the region. Hanahan, meanwhile, hasn't played a team that currently has a winning record since an Aug. 24 loss to Timblerand. Prediction: Myrtle Beach 31, Hanahan 27
Last week: 6-2