Week 9 Previews & Picks: Big night of football on tap

Week 9 is the kickoff of crunch time on the local high school football scene. After all the non-region blowouts and canceled games due to hurricanes this fall, we finally get a football Friday night like this one.

The teams that will be playing deep into November will be determined in large part by the way things shake out over the final three weeks of the regular season. The playoff picture will be a lot clearer after Friday.

For all the big games, none carry the weight of the Region 6-5A showdown of Carolina Forest at West Florence. The Panthers (5-0 overall, 2-0 region) can take the upper hand in the league standings with a road victory over the Knights, who have been the surprise of the region this season. The Panthers must stop standout running back Ailym Ford to have a chance to win. … Carolina Forest 28, West Florence 24.

* St. James at Conway: While all eyes are on the battle of unbeatens in the region, fans might have forgotten that the Tigers (2-4, 2-0) are also undefeated in league play and can assure themselves a share of first place with a win over the struggling Sharks. It appears the storm might have helped the Tigers regroup before region play, as well as allowing quarterback Daquinton Grady to get healthy. … Conway 34, St. James 13.

* Hartsville at North Myrtle Beach: The No. 6 Chiefs (5-1, 1-1) get the chance to dethrone the No. 1 Silver Foxes (7-0, 2-0) at home and shake up the Region 6-4A standings. The Chiefs got back on track with a blowout of Darlington last week, while Hartsville got a wake-up call in a controversial one-point win over Wilson. A loss could prove costly to the Chiefs’ playoff hopes. … Hartsville 23, North Myrtle Beach 20.

* Wilson at Myrtle Beach: The No. 4 Seahawks (5-0, 2-0) continued to play to near-perfection in last week’s 21-0 win over Marlboro County, the third shutout of the season for Myrtle Beach. But they face their toughest test of the season against the Tigers, who had Hartsville on the ropes last week but couldn’t close the deal. The Seahawks stay in the hunt for the region title with a win. … Myrtle Beach 24, Wilson 21.

* South Florence at Socastee: The Braves (1-5, 0-2) had no answer for West Florence last week, but could fare better against the Bruins. But depth begins to play a major role in the late season and the Braves are simply outmanned by many of the teams in Region 6-4A. … South Florence 34, Socastee 27.

Last week 5-0, overall 24-4

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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