Week 7 Previews & Picks: Region openers prove key

Thursday night’s Battle of the Beach serves as the Region 7-4A opener, but it very well could be the showdown for the region crown.

No. 2-ranked and undefeated North Myrtle Beach plays host to rival Myrtle Beach on CW 21 TV’s “Thursday Night Lights,” and the victor very well could go on to claim the region title. The Chiefs (6-0), who won the 7-4A championship last season in a three-way tiebreaker with Marlboro County and Myrtle Beach, have been dominant all season, especially in crushing Socastee 41-7 one week after the Braves beat Myrtle Beach 51-34.

But the Seahawks (3-3), who defeated the Chiefs 43-23 last year, are showing signs of improvement after back-to-back wins over Class 5A Carolina Forest and Conway. Myrtle Beach played a tough non-region schedule and seems to have solved the defensive issues that plagued them over the first month of the season. But they will face a tough test in a Chiefs team looking to match their best start in school history. … North Myrtle Beach 28, Myrtle Beach 24.

* Socastee at Carolina Forest: Both teams are coming off big wins, but Region 6-5A play is when it counts and this one will be key in determining the playoff picture down the road. Both teams also feature big-time senior quarterbacks in Carolina Forest’s Matt Beale and Socastee’s Hunter Illing, who accounted for the bulk of their teams’ offense last week. This should be a great showdown of QBs and teams, but the Panthers (3-2) have the edge over the Braves (4-1) in overall team depth. … Carolina Forest 34, Socastee 27.

* West Florence at Conway: The Tigers have had a week to recover from their painful 13-12 loss to Myrtle Beach in the Battle of the Victory Bell, which should serve as a wake-up call right before the start of region play. Look for the Tigers (4-1) to bounce back in a big way against the Knights. … Conway 31, West Florence 13.

* Marlboro County at St. James: The Sharks (2-4) are still reeling from last week’s blowout loss to Socastee in the Battle of Highway 707, but the region opener presents new motivation. The Bulldogs (2-3) bring a hungry and battle-tested team to town coming off losses to state powers Dillon and Hartsville. … Marlboro County 24, St. James 17.

* Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach at Trinity-Byrnes: The Saints (3-2) are coming off back-to-back, one-point victories and have already set the school record for wins in a season. But they run into a tough Trinity-Byrnes (5-1) squad on the road and will need even more magic to make it three in a row. … Trinity-Byrnes 30, CAMB 20.

* Coastal Carolina at Louisiana-Monroe: The Chants (1-2) make their Sun Belt Conference debut against the Warhawks (1-2), and they need to shake off the dust from last week’s blowout loss to FCS school Western Illinois if they want to make a good first impression. … CCU 27, ULM 21.

* South Carolina at Texas A&M: The Gamecocks (3-1) dodged a major bullet last week against Louisiana Tech. They won’t be so lucky against the Aggies. … Texas A&M 31, South Carolina 27.

* Clemson at Virginia Tech: The No. 2 Tigers (4-0) face the No. 12 Hokies (4-0) in a rematch of last year’ ACC title game. This one should be a classic. … Clemson 23, Virginia Tech 20.

Last week 6-2, overall 25-13

– Photo by Louis E. Keiner

 

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