For a second consecutive season, a stellar run by Screven County and its state playoff fate will be determined by the regular season finale.
Screven (8-0, 6-0 Region 4-AA) has run roughshod over its competition all year and has posted six consecutive shutouts. The Gamecocks have earned a No. 3 state ranking and now host No. 7 Jefferson County (9-0, 6-0) in a game that will decide the region championship, as well as a top seed in the upcoming state playoffs.
A possible downside of Screven’s dominance could be that they haven’t been tested since the first weeks of the season, if at all. The Gamecocks know that tonight will be a different animal on the field, but an experienced roster that has won region championships and playoff games is up for the challenge.
“I think everyone knows what’s at stake,” Screven coach Ron Duncan said. “Our guys have played Jefferson. They’ve won a region and playoff games and have played at the Erk Russell Classic. They’re used to different and big environments, so I think they’re going to be prepared for what’s in store.”
Preparation will be key as the Gamecocks are in for their toughest test yet.
While Screven has spent its season shutting teams down, the Warriors have spent the last couple of months lighting teams up.
Jefferson County is averaging 52.4 points per game and has scored at least 33 points in every game. The Warriors utilize a high-flying dual quarterback system as both C.J. Hales (1,230 pass yds., 18 TD) and Jaden Jenkins (1,071 pass yds., 14 TD) have shown the ability to dominate games. On the ground, the Warriors are similar to the Gamecocks in that blowout after blowout has dampered the output of starters while spreading around a vast overall wealth of yardage and trips to the end zone.
Screven County wil counter with its own all-purpose QB Armani Bunbury (1,591 total yards, 22 total TD).
The Gamecocks began their rise to region power several years ago with a pounding running game that rarely changed things up. Bunbury's skill set, along with the receiving talent of Tyquan Johnson (23 rec., 397 yds., 7 TD) and a deep stable of running backs led by Kim Hunter (607 yds., 6 TD) has given Screven a huge array of ways to find yardage and points.
"Jefferson is a different team from last year, but I think we're improved as well," Duncan said. "I don't think we enter any game looking to get a certain sort of balance in our play calling. We're confident in everyone and the game will dictate what we do."
The winner of tonight's game will claim a No. 1 state playoff seed and will host the No. 4 seed from Region 3, which could be any of four teams at the moment.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Kelly Memorial Stadium in Sylvania.