Rolling along with an 8-0 record earlier this season, Timberland was brought back to reality in Week 9, losing to Bishop England, 17-3, and ending what had been a six-plus year winning streak in region games.

The loss shocked Lowcountry football fans, not to mention Timberland's players.

But in retrospect, the loss may have been a good thing for Timberland, says coach Art Craig.

"I think having that long winning streak and hearing people talk about it all the time began to affect our players, and we lost touch some with what it took to win games," said Craig. "I was glad to see the streak end in some ways. I didn't like the way we played, but Bishop England played very well. They certainly deserved to win the football game, and I think our eyes were opened. I think we have played a lot looser since the loss."

Indeed the 11-1 Wolves have played well since the loss, out-scoring four opponents by a combined score of 171-33.

The toughest foe, however, awaits tonight when Timberland travels to Dillon, the state's top-ranked Class AA team with a perfect 12-0 record.

The two programs have met five times previously, with Dillon winning all five meetings.

Dillon has been called the most dominant Class AA team in state history and has the numbers to back it up. The Wildcats have allowed only two touchdowns all season and only 34 total points.

Offensively, the Wildcats have scored at least 40 points in 11 of 12 games this season. Dillon has three junior offensive linemen already with Division I offers, as well as a junior tailback, Jabo Lee, who also has several early offers.

Craig himself has not tried to downplay the talent and depth of Dillon to his own team.

"They are the best-looking team on film that I have ever seen, honestly," said Craig. "Top to bottom, they have outstanding athletes and they are well-coached. Their offense is good. They have a really good running back and their offensive line is huge. But their defense is as good as I've ever seen. They are not overrated by any means."

Timberland's offense will be greatly challenged by Dillon's defensive speed. The Wolves are getting outstanding play from running backs Classe Thompson and Daquan Lucas.

Quarterback Taylor Elizondo is effective in the passing game, as evidenced by his 146 yards passing last week in a 28-21 win over Hanahan.

Receivers Mike Wilson, Austin McKinney and Lee Mayes are downfield threats, with Wilson stepping up as the No. 1 target.

"We're ready to play and we won't be intimidated," said Craig. "The best thing is this is one game. We don't have to beat them three out of five. We have to win one game on Friday night. We're 48 minutes from playing for the state title, and that's how we are approaching the game. If we play better than Dillon, we will win the game."