Heads should be carried higher this year on the Battery Creek High School football sideline.
After suffering two seasons in Class 3-A, the Dolphins have dropped down with the realignment. Gone are the Blufftons, Berkeleys and Cane Bays. Enter Garrett Academy, Ridgeland-Hardeeville and Academic Magnet.
Battery Creek, its numbers decimated two years ago with the opening of Whale Branch Early College High School, hopes Class 2-A proves a better fit.
"We're used to going up against very good competition," Dolphins senior defensive end Willie Doe said. "Hopefully we'll bring it to them before they bring it to us."
Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman, starting his second season leading the Dolphins, said players should be more confident lining up against teams of similar size and numbers. That doesn't mean there won't be challenges.
Twenty-three players from the 2011 roster graduated, including much of the Dolphins' defensive line, their defensive backs and starting quarterback Leroy Jennette. The current roster is littered with sophomores and freshmen who will play right away.
Sophomore quarterback Raekwon Smalls is among them. He is the expected starter, but will probably share time with junior Zach Mahan.
Behind them is freshman Malik Morgan, who started at Robert Smalls Middle School as an eighth-grader and will dress with the varsity on Friday nights as a safety and backup quarterback.
The young guys will have support. Senior receiver Teyvon Jennette returns, as do senior running back Deandre Johnson and offensive lineman Justin Frazier. Center Edwin Lopez did not start as a junior but received significant minutes and is ready to grab a bigger role, Shuman said.
"We've got a new look to who's on the field, but the understanding of the scheme and who is doing what, that's so much greater than last year," Shuman said. "The guys really see what we want to do. That adaptation from a pass-oriented offense to a run-oriented offense has kind of changed over to where now they say, 'Hey, this is what we're doing.'"
The Dolphins will again run Shuman's splitback offense, which will include some triple option. The will also spread the field on occasion, Shuman said.
Defensively, Battery Creek is abandoning its 5-2 look in favor of a 3-5 -- three down linemen and five linebackers.
Shuman said the move fits the current Dolphins, that his group of linebackers was strong. Fewer down linemen also means less pressure for Battery Creek's big men to play both ways. Doe, for instance, will play defensive end and reserve tight end, after starting at tight end in 2011.
The Dolphins' offense wil feature three tight ends, Shuman said, who will be asked to block as well as catch passes in short-yardage situations.
The changes on defense began during the spring and players have learned their new assignments and whom to take in certain situations, Doe said.
Now the new faces and repetitions will be game-tested.
Battery Creek will first welcome Class 1-A Estill, which the Dolphins defeated for their lone victory of 2011. The nine losses to end the season have not come up much since, but the Dolphins have been more focused during the offseason, and Shuman has pushed the Dolphins more than he did his first season, Frazier said.
"We let good enough, be enough," Frazier said. "And we can't let that happen again."
Stadium: Dolphins Field
Region: Region 6-AA
Coach (years at school): Jim Shuman (Second year, 1-9)
2011 results: 1-9, 0-5 Region 7-AAA
Key losses: QB Leroy Jennette, RB Javon Livingston, RB Jayron Sneed, TE/DE Warren Lawyer, OL/DL David Ratliff
Top returning starters: DE Willie Doe, OL Justin Frazier, WR Teyvon Jennette, OL/DL Shakill Gause
Key newcomers: QB/DB Malik Morgan, RB/LB Marshall Heyward
Date Opponent W/L Score
Aug. 25 ESTILL W 21-16
Sept. 2 at Beaufort High L 62-6
Sept. 9 CAROLINA FOREST L 48-0
Sept. 16 at Edisto L 34-13
Sept. 23 WADE HAMPTON L 47-6
Sept. 30 at Cane Bay 48-0
Oct. 7 BERKELEY L 60-0
Oct. 14 at Bluffton L 82-0
Oct. 21 HILTON HEAD HIGH L 47-20
Oct. 28 at Lake Marion L 18-14
HOME GAMES in CAPS
Note: All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 24 ESTILL
Aug. 31 at Whale Branch
Sept. 7 HILTON HEAD HIGH
Sept. 14 Garrett Academy Tech*
Sept. 21 at Ridgeland-Hardeeville*
Sept. 28 BISHOP ENGLAND*
Oct. 5 at Woodland*
Oct. 12 at North Charleston*
Oct. 19 at Burke*
Oct. 26 ACADEMIC MAGNET*
HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent
Players to watch
Offense: Justin Frazier, OL
A constant in the weight room during the summer, the senior lineman knows Shuman's offense and possesses the footwork needed to excel at left tackle, where he will start. He will also play nose guard on defense. "He's our bulldozer," Shuman said. "He's going to move whoever's in front of him."
Defense: Willie Doe, DE
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Doe has the size to man the end. He also has the speed to chase down opposing running backs. Doe, who also played tight end, will be a reserve on offense this season. "He has closing speed that we want to keep fresh," Shuman said. "That's why we want him to play on one side of the ball only."
Three keys to the season
2012 Roster (in numerical order)
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
4 David Frazier WR/DB 5-10 165 Soph.
5 Deandre Johnson RB/DB 5-9 165 Sr.
6 Darrin Peeks RB/DB 5-7 155 Jr.
7 Raekwon Smalls QB/LB 5-6 160 Soph.
8 Teyvon Jennette WR/DB 5-9 150 Sr.
10 Malik Morgan QB/DB 5-10 160 Fr.
11 Brandon White WR/OLB 5-9 165 Soph.
12 Zach Mahan QB/DB/K 6-1 170 Jr.
15 Juan Carlos Negron RB/DB/K 5-9 150 Jr.
20 Trevon Heyward WR/DB 5-9 160 Sr.
24 Jeremiah Alston RB/LB 6-0 175 Sr.
27 Steven White TE/LB 5-10 170 Sr.
33 DJ Franklin RB/DB 6-0 160 Sr.
34 Andrew Woodley WR/DB 6-0 165 Soph.
35 Marshall Heyward RB/LB 5-11 175 Fr.
41 Devin Mitchell WR/DB 5-5 140 Sr.
42 Caleb Harris RB/LB 5-9 185 Sr.
43 Jason Green RB/LB 5-10 170 Jr.
50 Shakill Gause OL/DL 6-0 245 Jr.
51 Michael Harbin OL/DL 6-0 290 Sr.
56 Seth Priester OL/DL 5-10 245 Soph.
58 Michael Reyes OL/DL 5-7 210 Soph.
60 Joey Denham OL/DL 5-9 190 Sr.
61 Toby Beall OL/DL 5-8 210 Soph.
62 Edwin Lopez OL/DL 5-9 245 Sr.
72 Matthew Holiday OL/DL 5-9 160 Fr.
73 Johnathan Wright OL/DL 6-0 310 Jr.
76 Justin Frazier OL/DL 6-3 290 Sr.
81 Chris Daigle WR/LB 5-8 150 Jr.
82 Porter Mahan WR/LB 5-9 150 Fr.
83 Jordan Belyea WR/DB 6-1 150 Jr.
84 Tarey Jennette WR/DB 5-10 160 Soph.
85 Isaiah Sloan TE/LB 6-0 235 Jr.
87 Yuneek Crittendon RB/LB 5-10 165 Soph.
89 Robert Bowles WR/DB 5-8 140 Soph.
99 Willie Doe TE/DE 6-4 245 Sr.