Kevin Wald isn't afraid to admit he was scared. There's not much else he could be after arriving at his very first Hilton Head Prep football practice and seeing just 12 players on the field.
"I was like, 'Are we going to be able to field a team?' "
More players eventually showed up after wrapping up vacations and recovering from injuries, but the Dolphins still enter the 2012 season with just 21 players on their roster, seven fewer than a season ago.
Six of those players no longer with the team are playing down the road at Hilton Head Island High School. Quarterbacks Jeremy Haidon and Aiden Hegarty, tailback Scott D'Amico, wideout Jon Dillon, kicker Colin White and offensive lineman Zane Braden are all Seahawks now.
That group accounted for 1,620 total yards of offense, 17 touchdowns and 96 tackles last year for the Dolphins. Braden, meanwhile, was a starter on the line while White averaged 40.6 yards per punt -- best in the area -- while going 5 of 9 on field goals. He was also second on the team with 58 tackles.
"Their decision was regrettable, but it's in the past," linebacker Austin Baker said. "It's what they want to do. I wish them the best of luck in their season. But we're going to play our season."
As one of just five seniors, Baker looks to anchor the Dolphins during what they hope is more than just a transitional year. The defender led Prep last season with 104 stops while also manning the fullback position on the offensive side.
His presence on offense will be amplified during his final campaign, as the Dolphins move away from the spread in favor of the run-heavy triple-option offense, a move Wald calls necessary in order for Prep to be more competitive quickly.
"We're small," Wald said. "We really don't have any depth hardly at all. So we can't accept it. We can't make excuses.
"If we're going to be competitive and have a chance to win games, we have to suck it up."
Strong decision-making from the quarterback position will dictate how successful the offense becomes. That's where Charlie Wilmot comes into play.
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior returns to the Dolphins after not playing since his freshman season. The departure of Prep's previous signal-callers helped him reach the decision to come back, he said.
"I don't want to see this program go down the drain," he said. "We were kind of struggling in the summer with numbers and we didn't have a quarterback. I have too much respect to let this go down."
Wilmot says the Dolphins will embrace the underdog role this season. And with so much youth on the team -- nearly 40 percent of the roster is underclassmen -- he added that they are hungry to "get some wins under their belt."
"That's what's making us work hard," he said. "That's what's dedicating us to work our butts off. We know we're the underdogs, we know everybody thinks we're not going to do well because we didn't have that great of a year last year.
"But we're looking forward to it because we know we can prove some people wrong."
But don't include tailback Teron Daley in that group with little expectations for the Dolphins. The tailback, who led Prep with 842 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last season, has big plans in store for 2012.
"I think we'll shock the whole entire island, Bluffton, everywhere else," he said. "We're probably going to win the SCISAA championship. We're the underdogs."
Stadium: Dolphins Stadium
Region: SCISAA Region 2-AA
Coach (years at school): Kevin Wald (first year)
2011 results: 5-5, 3-2 Region 2-AA. Lost to Williamsburg Academy in the first round of the Class 2-A playoffs.
Key losses: RB/LB LJ Orage, QB/LB Jeremy Haidon, QB/WR/DB Aidan Hegarty, K/LB Colin White, WR/DE Jon Dillon, RB/LB Scott D'Amico
Top returning starters: RB/LB Teron Daley, FB/LB Austin Baker, DE/FB Zen Wiggins, RB/LB Noah Sulek, OL/DL Logan Mallett
Key newcomers: OL/DL Adam Schauss, OL/DL Keylan Hanna, WR/DB Zenon Parker
Date Opponent W/L Score
Aug. 29 CHARLESTON COLLEGIATE W 64-0
Sept. 2 ST. ANDREW'S W 30-12
Sept. 9 at Thomas Sumter L 41-0
Sept. 16 at Aynor L 41-28
Sept. 23 at Bible Baptist W 31-6
Oct. 7 NORTHWOOD ACADEMY W 27-7
Oct. 14 at Thomas Heyward L 18-13
Oct. 21 FIRST BAPTIST W 50-0
Oct. 28 at Hilton Head Christian L 33-7
Nov. 4 at Williamsburg Academy* L 27-14
HOME GAMES in CAPS *Playoff game
Aug. 24 at Colleton Prep Academy 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 31 LAURENCE MANNING 5 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Bible Baptist 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Palmetto Christian Academy* 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 NORTHWOOD ACADEMY* 5 p.m.
Sept. 28 CALHOUN ACADEMY 5 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Thomas Heyward* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 KING'S ACADEMY 4 p.m.
Oct. 19 at St. Andrew's* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN*
HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent
Players to watch
Offense: Teron Daley, RB
Daley led the Dolphins in rushing a season ago with 842 yards and eight touchdowns on 108 carries -- good for 7.8 yards per rush. Expect the junior's numbers to equal or surpass those totals this year as Hilton Head Prep installs a run-heavy offense, especially with neither of last year's other top two tailbacks on the roster.
Defense: Austin Baker, LB
Baker easily topped the Dolphins defense last season with 104 tackles, two interceptions and a sack. The senior will look to anchor Prep's young defense once again this year, as the Dolphins lose four of their top seven tacklers from a season ago.
Three keys to the season
2012 Roster (in numerical order)
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
3 Logan Clark WR/DB/K 5-10 150 Sr.
4 Gavin Hurlbut FB/LB 5-5 125 Fr.
5 Teron Daley RB/LB 5-9 160 Jr.
7 Zenon Parker WR/DB 5-10 150 Soph.
8 Sean O'Connor WR/DB 6-0 165 Jr.
9 Noah Sulek RB/LB 6-0 160 Soph.
10 Charlie Wilmot QB/DB 5-10 155 Sr.
15 Archer Brooks WR/DB 6-0 155 Soph.
32 Robert Clark FB/DL 5-10 200 Jr.
35 Austin Baker FB/LB 5-11 180 Sr.
50 Keylan Hanna OL/LB 5-9 140 Soph.
55 Justin Kaiser OL/DL 5-10 145 Sr.
56 Trammy Colket OL/LB 5-11 135 Fr.
57 Logan Mallett OL/DL 5-10 160 Jr.
58 Tyler Orford OL/LB 6-0 140 Sr.
59 Cole Fredrick OL/DL 5-7 170 8th
63 Zach June OL/DL 5-9 145 Fr.
70 Riggs Anderson OL/DL 6-3 195 Fr.
75 Adam Schauss OL/DL 6-1 210 Soph.
81 John Larson WR/DB 6-0 155 Soph.
88 Zen Wiggins DE/FB 6-3 195 Jr.