Berkeley vs. Fort Dorchester

Berkeley head coach Randy Robinson's team is the frontrunner in Region 7-AAAAA, but still has league games against James Island, Stratford, Goose Creek and Cane Bay. Brad Nettles/Staff

The stretch drive for region football championships in the Lowcountry begins in earnest Friday night as high school teams head into the most important part of the schedule.

While there were some interesting and entertaining non-region matchups over the first six weeks of the season, the only games that matter take place over the next four weeks. State playoff berths are earned through region finishes, so grabbing victories now is of utmost importance.

In Class AAAAA, Region 7 appears to be Berkeley’s for the taking. Berkeley should be favored to win its remaining league games against James Island, Stratford, Goose Creek and Cane Bay.

Cane Bay and Stratford play Friday night with the winner having a good chance to finish at least second in the region, which would mean a home game in the first round of the Lower State playoffs.

Fort Dorchester has the inside track in Region 8-AAAAA but will still have to face rivals Ashley Ridge and Summerville down the stretch. Summerville would appear to have the best shot at taking down the Patriots, but Fort Dorchester will be favored in every game left.

In Region 7-AAA, Manning and Hanahan are off to 2-0 starts and if both win Friday, their game against each other next week would be for the top spot.

Timberland and Oceanside Collegiate are clearly the two best teams in Region 6-AA and will clash next wee for the league title.

St. John’s and Baptist Hill are the favorites in Region 4-A. They will meet in the regular-season finale to decide the title.

In 5-AA, Woodland faces powerhouses Bamberg-Ehrhardt and Barnwell, ranked fourth and second in Class AA, over the next two weeks with those outcomes determining the Wolverines’ playoff fate.

In SCISA AAA, Hammond has locked up the top spot in the playoff bracket with wins over First Baptist and Porter-Gaud. The Hurricanes and Cyclones meet on Oct. 26 to determine the all-important second seed, which keeps them out of Hammond’s side of the bracket until the state championship game.

SCHSL Swimming 

The S.C. High School League held its state championship meet in swimming over the weekend. As reported in Sunday’s paper, Wando’s boys and girls repeated as Class AAAAA state champions while Oceanside Collegiate was state runner-up in AAA girls and Academic Magnet was runner-up in AAA boys.

In addition to those named in the story for medal-winning performances, there were others from several teams that earned spots in the top three of their events.

Freshman Madelyn Routhier of Fort Dorchester placed third in the 100-yard butterfly in Class AAAAA. She also earned a fifth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle.

Mason Dupree of Fort Dorchester was third in the 50-yard freestyle in the Class AAAAA boys meet. West Ashley’s Chad Waldrop finished third in the Class AAAAA 100-yard butterfly while teammate Justin Sage was third in the AAAAA 100-yard freestyle.

In AAA, Oceanside Collegiate’s Chrisman Rand was second in the 100-yard butterfly. Ryan Troy of Academic Magnet was second in the 500-yard freestyle and teammate Zachary Moody was third.

The SCISA state championships will be held Saturday in Augusta, Ga. Porter-Gaud is the defending Class AAA champion in boys and girls, and both are favored to win again this year.

Baker runs fastest time in SC

Academic Magnet senior Colin Baker continues his impressive cross country season. Last weekend, Baker competed in the Great American Festival in Cary, N.C., where he ran the 5k course in 14:53.60, which is easily the fastest time among South Carolina high school runners this season.

Baker is the Class AA defending state champion but will run in the Class AAA meet in November as the school moves up in classification. There have only been two instances of runners finishing under 15 minutes in state meet history. Wren’s Ernie Shepard set the state record in 1987 with a time of 14:45. Hilton Head’s David Adams beat that time in the 1999 state meet, finishing in 14:37.