Bluffton High School coach Ken Cribb wanted his team to be tested. He wanted the Bobcats to face adversity.
He got all he wanted -- and more -- from Cane Bay on Friday night. The Cobras held a seven-point halftime lead before the Bobcats fought back for a 42-14 victory, using a 35-point second half to pull away.
It was the first time the Bobcats trailed all season, and Cane Bay was the first opponent to play Bluffton within 45 points.
And that was just what the Bobcats needed, Cribb said.
"This was good medicine," Cribb said. "We had to be put in this situation because it only gets tougher from here. And now we won't be wide-eyed when that happens."
In Friday's post-game huddle, Cribb reminded his team it needs three more victories to successfully defend its Region 7-AAA title. The Bobcats host Battery Creek before traveling to Berkeley and Hilton Head High to close out the regular season.
Berkeley handed Bluffton its only region loss a year ago, but the Stags are in rebuilding mode. They start eight sophomores on offense.
"This team wants to win it outright this year -- they want to go undefeated," Cribb said. "And based on what I saw (Friday), they can respond when they need to."
BEAUFORT HIGH DEVELOPS QUARTERBACK DEPTH
With starting quarterback Alex Gregory suffering from the flu last week, Beaufort High School worked to ready backup Ben Vaigneur and senior Luke Smith.
Smith, a wide receiver, worked in several packages last week. And during Friday's 40-21 loss at Wando, Smith scored on an 11-yard run while playing quarterback.
Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford said Smith is a good leader and that players respond well to him. Clifford said Gregory was still the team's quarterback, but that his absence during practice allowed the Eagles to develop some depth at the position.
"He's done a good job this year," Clifford said of Gregory. "That will help us be better at that position."
Beaufort High has dropped four of five games after the loss to Wando. The Eagles return to their Region 8-AAAA schedule when they play host to Ashley Ridge on Friday.
"We're ready to win some ball games," Clifford said last week before the Eagles traveled to Wando. "We've just got to find that way. And the way is no mistakes, just being disciplined and not making those mistakes."
SEAHAWKS STAYING FOCUSED
When Hilton Head High coach Tim Singleton returned from a two-week suspension in early September, his team was 0-3 and had been outscored 165-20.
And things weren't going smoothly off the field, either, as the S.C. High School League had twice penalized the school for using players whose eligibility had not been cleared, starting running back Philip Harris had been deemed ineligible and returned to Hardeeville High School and Singleton had come under scrutiny in his role as president and CEO of the Strive To Excel mentoring program.
Despite all the distractions, the Seahawks have won three of four games since Singleton's return and are in good position to earn a spot in the Class 3-A playoffs.
"My kids have done an outstanding job, because they don't believe in that (crud) and they know who I am and what our team is all about," Singleton said. "They've done an outstanding job staying focused and playing football, and that's what we're here to do. They're student-athletes, and they're doing a great job in the classroom and a great job on the field, for the most part. We'd like to win a little more, but at the end of the day, they're getting better, and that's what it's all about."
D'AMICO DONE FOR SEASON
After starting the season without running back and linebacker Scott D'Amico, Hilton Head Prep was eager to get back to full strength, which the Dolphins expected to happen Friday against Northwood Academy.
But as D'Amico was preparing for his first practice after being sidelined with a bone bruise in his foot early last week, his father, Dave D'Amico, received a call from Scott's doctor. An MRI had revealed a small stress fracture in the foot, and injury that will keep the junior off the football field for the remainder of the season and could cause him to miss part or all of basketball season.
D'Amico was the Dolphins' top rusher last season and ranked third on the team with 66 tackles. He also had five interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
CHEADLE NAMED TO WATCH LIST
Hilton Head Christian Academy senior Cory Cheadle was one of 15 long snappers named to the watch list for the inaugural Chris Rubio Award, which will be given to the top high school long snapper in the nation.
Three finalists for the honor will be named Nov. 21, and the winner will be announced at a banquet in Los Angeles on Dec. 17.
FACEBOOK FAN VOTE
Our online voting produced the most sentimental winner yet last week, as Hilton Head High's Chip Mullen was the top vote-getter after scoring his first career touchdown on a fumble return.
Who will come out on top this week? Have your say by voting in the poll at www.facebook.com/IPBGSports by 5 p.m. Wednesday, and look for the results on Friday's Preps Plus page.
The nominees are: