Can't fault Hilton Head rivals for looking ahead

October 17, 2010 

In the moments before kickoff Friday night, Hilton Head Christian Academy's football stadium was swarming with Hilton Head Prep coaches, each with a clipboard and writing utensil at the ready.

The scene had played out in reverse a few hours earlier, with the Eagles' coaching staff staking out Prep's home game against Thomas Heyward.

Even though there's another Friday between now and their annual cross-island showdown Oct. 29, the Eagles and Dolphins are already thinking about one another ... if they ever stopped.

"I've been looking at that game since the beginning," Hilton Head Christian senior Eric Farr said. "I feel like it will be a good game, and I'm excited for it, definitely."

The anticipation is mounting with each passing week, because the Eagles (6-1) appear poised to make a strong run at defending their SCISAA Class 2-A title, and the Dolphins (6-2) look like one of the top challengers to their rival's throne, having averaged 58.4 points per game during a five-game winning streak.

Therein lies the other side of this story -- the notion that merely looking ahead to the head-to-head meeting in two weeks might not be the most dangerous thing Hilton Head Christian could do with Thomas Heyward visiting for another key region game.

See, the Eagles' offense is pretty explosive in its own right -- they've scored 39 or more points in all six of their victories -- so it's natural to compare the numbers piling up at each end of the island.

Prep seems to put up school-record numbers each week -- the Dolphins scored 73 points three weeks ago against Bible Baptist and quarterback Matt Layman threw for a school-record 422 yards on Friday, giving him 2,582 passing yards for the season. His five touchdowns vaulted him past another school record, setting the new single-season bar for touchdown passes at 27.

Meanwhile, Hilton Head Christian quarterback Luke Sirgo is quietly putting together another outstanding season. He has passed for 1,378 with 21 touchdowns and only one interception, and he has rushed for 417 yards and four more scores.

Eagles coach Tommy Lewis insists there is no desire to try to keep up with what the Dolphins are doing on offense, but he knows his players have Prep in the back of their minds, nonetheless.

"Our guys know what we can do, so we're not worried about keeping pace or any of those things," Lewis said. "Keeping pace is not a concern. Keeping our guys focused game to game is a legitimate concern."

The Eagles admit they're thinking about the Dolphins, but they insist they're not getting ahead of themselves.

"It's hard. It's a rivalry. We want to beat Prep," senior Ryan Emery said. "But Thomas Heyward is up next, and they've got some good players. We have to be careful. We have to treat every week like it's a one-week season."

At the rate things are going, it will come down to exactly that on Oct. 29 -- a one-week season with a share of the region title on the line. And the only numbers that really matter will be the ones on the scoreboard.

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