St Johns and Baptist Hill have been playing football against each other since 1971 and have met on the field 47 different times. So it goes it without saying that they are each others biggest rivals. This year they will meet with a region championship on the line, just like the last two years. The winner of this game will receive a bye in the playoffs and have home playoff games as long as they keep winning. The loser will finish second in the division and have to play an at large team in the first round of the playoffs at home, but will have a much tougher road after that with a road trip. In Baptist Hill’s last trip to the island in 2016, the region was on the line and St Johns rose up and dominated start to finish keeping the high powered Bobcat offense out of the end zone all night winning 54-8! Last year in Coach Harpe’s first year at the helm, the Islanders traveled to Hollywood and were hit with a blitzkrieg early before battling back to cut it to one score before the half. The Islanders did not get closer than that eventually succumbing to the Bobcats 50-42 on Baptist Hill’s Homecoming night. The Bobcats parlayed that home field advantage and rode Corey Field’s arm all the way to the state championship game finishing as the state runner up to Lamar.
This year has brought changes to both teams as graduation 2018 hit both teams hard. No longer is Corey Fields roaming the Baptist Hill backfield as he has moved on to SC State. The Bobcats had a tough time finding his replacement as the first two games of the season would indicate. They struggled out of the gate starting 0-2 and losing to Oceanside 17-8 at home and to Garrett 12-6 in overtime on the road. This was not what was expected of the Bobcats the last several years as they scored at will. Starting in week three they made the change at QB and made stand out wide receiver Rashad Maxwell their new QB and the offense took off. Since then they have averaged 68.4 points per game while giving up 3.6 points per game. Pretty impressive, even if it was against not so stellar competition with a combined record of 8-34. The Baptist Hill defense seems like it has improved dramatically over the last three years as they have used less two way players and they concentrate more on their craft without playing to exhaustion.
The Islanders come into the game on a roll themselves winning 5 of 6 and stand at 6-2 overall and 2-0 n the region. The Islanders have a balanced attack led by seniors Tyler Durham at QB who like Maxwell can beat you with his arm and legs.The Islander receiving corps in 2018 is the deepest we’ve seen here recently with 4 or 5 legitimate options to throw to at anytime. The Islander run game has improved all year and have really started to rip off some big gains in the second half of the season led by Tyrus Richardson and Tyrone Hicks. These two provide a big 1-2 punch. The defense has been opportunistic all year causing turnovers and scoring on them at times to fuel the Islanders in 2018. The Islanders kicking game has been on point this year led by sophomore Alex Marchisillo who has made 6 field goals over the year. Johns Island has really embraced the Islanders this year as home attendance has been excellent all year long as the Island is sensing that Coach Harpe and staff are really building something here. So there should be a huge and loud home crowd to cheer on the Islanders on Friday night by kickoff at 730 PM.
There are four common opponents this year that both teams have faced so far. Of course there are the two region foes of Military Magnet(0-8) and Charleston Math and Science(0-8), as well as Garrett (5-3) and North Charleston (1-7). Baptist Hill was 3-1 against the four losing only to Garrett in week 2 before the QB change, defeating Math and Science 78-0, Military Magnet 74-12, and North Charleston 58-0. St Johns was 4-0 versus the same opponents defeating Garrett 18-6, Math and Science 52-0, Military Magnet 54-13 and North Charleston 45-14. St Johns will play Oceanside next week giving the two teams a fifth familiar opponent.
St Johns has dominated the all time series leading it 34 wins to 13 losses, but the Bobcats won last year and broke a 4 year run by the Islanders. Recently in the last ten years, the series is even with both squads winning 5 a piece. The Bobcats won 4 of 5 from 2008 through 2012 and then the Islanders won four in a row with the Bobcats winning the last meeting in 2017. The Islanders are 18-6 overall at home versus the Bobcats in the series. Come Friday night, we will see if it’s Coach Brown or Coach Harpe that rides out of Biggerstaff field as region champs and collects home field throughout the playoffs. Who is going to get those bragging rights for 2018??? Come out Friday night and find out.