B.J. Payne's first meeting as Hilton Head Island High School's head football coach didn't come with his crop of assistants nor with his new team.
It came instead with Michael Julian, the veteran quarterback who has been charged with helping to right the ship that went astray during the Seahawks' difficult 2011 campaign.
"I sat down with him and said, 'This is the way it is,' " Payne recalled. "I explained to him my expectations and the role of what the quarterback is, not just on the field but off the field. I think once he heard that ... he understood that he's a kid I hold to different expectations.
"He knows that and he's accepted that role."
Julian enters his final season at Hilton Head High with high expectations. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior is ranked as the top senior quarterback prospect in South Carolina by SCVarsity.com and checks in as the No. 3 overall player in-state on the recruiting service's Top 100 list. He picked up his first FBS offer from Arizona back on May 22 and has since seen his offer list grow to double digits, with the Indiana Hoosiers currently holding the edge as his favorite.
Those accolades and offers make it easy to pinpoint Julian as the make-or-break player this year for Hilton Head High.
"He's definitely been working a lot harder. Everybody can see it," senior wide receiver Adam Orischak said. "He's trying harder and is a lot more of a team player this year. He's definitely starting to put the team first.
"He's spreading the ball out, pitching it out on the option ... he's really doing what it takes to make the team win."
Julian and the rest of the Seahawks are hoping to erase the troubles of a season ago, where ineligible transfers and a trying 4-7 season helped lead to the firing of Tim Singleton after nine years on the job. The Seahawks lost by an average of 37 points in their seven defeats and watched as rival Bluffton outscored them by a 134-6 margin.
"Four and seven is not acceptable, especially for this school and its history," said Julian, who threw for 1,884 yards with 15 touchdowns last year. "We'll definitely be a lot better than 4-7 this year."
Julian expects bigger things this year in part because of the Seahawks' new offense, as they have abandoned the multiple offensive formations used by Singleton and will instead operate exclusively out of the spread. Hilton Head High, which rarely will huddle in its up-tempo scheme, also plans to utilize Julian on the ground more than in previous seasons.
Combine the new offense with a veteran core of seniors and a move to Region 8-AAA and the outlook for Hilton Head High looks encouraging. The new schedule features the likes of James Island, Stall and Orangeburg-Wilkinson, and also means the Seahawks will play Bluffton only once instead of a double-dip.
"I personally think we should be better than .500," Julian said. "... It depends on how we play. If we listen to what the coaches have to tell us and we're disciplined, we should win seven, eight, nine games."
That confidence is something Julian's teammates rarely have seen out of him until recently. And that's what has them excited.
"Michael has changed a whole lot on the field," senior wideout James Sanders said. " ... He's gotten a whole lot better. He's gained a whole lot more confidence.
"When we're in the huddle, man, he just cranks up into a whole 'nother gear."
Stadium: Hilton Head Island Community Stadium
Region: Region 8-AAA
Coach (years at school): B.J. Payne (first year)
2011 results: 4-7, 2-3 Region 7-AAA. Lost to Myrtle Beach in the first round of the Class 3-A playoffs
Key losses: DB Lamond Williams, LB Jacob Lewis, DL Raheem Williams, RB Alex MacDonald
Top returning starters: QB/DB Michael Julian, RB Khalil Lewis, WR/DB Adam Orischak, WR/DB James Sanders, WR/DB Robbie Iulo, OL/DL Kaylon Ford, TE/LB Chase Rhinehart
Key newcomers: RB/LB Scott D'Amico, WR/DB Jonny Dillon, WR/DB Jeremy Haidon, QB/DB Aiden Hegarty, K Colin White
Date Opponent W/L Score
Aug. 19 at Bluffton L 76-0
Aug. 25 at Beaufort High L 54-0
Sept. 2 at Ridgeland L 35-20
Sept. 9 HARDEEVILLE W 28-12
Sept. 16 NORTH CHARLESTON W 48-0
Sept. 30 BERKELEY L 31-20
Oct. 7 LAKE MARION W 21-6
Oct. 14 at Cane Bay L 37-19
Oct. 21 BATTERY CREEK W 47-20
Oct. 28 BLUFFTON L 58-6
Nov. 4 at Myrtle Beach* L 64-16
HOME GAMES in CAPS *Playoff game
Aug. 24 WHALE BRANCH 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 31 RIDGELAND-HARDEEVILLE 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 at Battery Creek 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Wade Hampton 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Bluffton 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 STALL* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 at James Island* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 ORANGEBURG-WILKINSON* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 HANAHAN* 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Berkeley* 7:30 p.m.
HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent
Players to watch
Offense: Scott D'Amico, RB
The Seahawks are expecting big things out of the Hilton Head Prep transfer, who will join junior Khalil Lewis in the backfield. The senior is one of the more versatile players on offense, coach B.J. Payne says, and will line up at slot receiver when Hilton Head High isn't in a two-back set or has Lewis at tailback.
Defense: Kaylon Ford, DL
The 5-foot-11, 265-pound junior has drawn high praise in the preseason from Payne, who is expecting several FBS schools to offer the lineman in the coming months. Ford ran a 4.8 40-yard dash and recorded a 34-inch vertical jump at Louisville's camp this summer, the Seahawks coach said. "He's freaky," Payne said. " ... He does things kids don't do. He'll be big time."
Three keys to the season
2012 Roster (in numerical order)
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
2 Jonny Dillon WR/DB 6-0 180 Sr.
3 Michael Julian QB/DB 6-5 195 Sr.
4 Jordan Rozek WR/DB 5-6 130 Soph.
5 Ben Olliff QB/DB 5-10 170 Jr.
6 Aaron Frazier WR/DB 5-11 160 Fr.
7 Ty'Shan Green RB/DB 5-10 150 Sr.
8 James Sanders WR/DB 6-2 190 Sr.
9 Jeremy Haidon WR/DB 6-0 205 Sr.
10 Robbie Iulo WR/DB 6-0 180 Sr.
11 Adam Orischak WR/DB 6-0 190 Sr.
12 Aiden Hegarty QB/DB 6-0 155 Fr.
14 Colin White K 5-11 165 Jr.
16 Eliot Florencio WR 6-4 165 Sr.
20 Caleb Martin WR/DB 5-11 185 Sr.
21 Nick Cooper WR/DB 5-11 165 Jr.
22 Jamarcus Moradel RB/DB 5-6 145 Sr.
23 Chris Skager WR 5-11 155 Fr.
24 Khalil Lewis RB 5-11 185 Jr.
25 Tracey Julian WR/DB 5-5 130 Fr.
26 Ben Miller TE 6-2 185 Sr.
28 Jeremiah Maddox DB 5-9 140 Fr.
30 Jon Baty DB 5-10 140 Fr.
31 Jermaine Martinez RB/LB 5-6 160 Soph.
32 Scott D'Amico RB/LB 5-10 205 Sr.
33 Ricky Ledee QB/LB 5-5 135 Fr.
34 Tyriek Harrington DB 5-11 170 Soph.
36 Gage Jester QB/DB 5-7 150 Fr.
38 Nelson Hernandez RB/LB 5-11 170 Jr.
40 Chase Rinehart TE/LB 5-10 195 Jr.
42 Trey Days QB 5-6 145 Fr.
44 Zane Braden OL/DL 6-0 160 Soph.
45 Michael Ruth DE 6-1 170 Soph.
48 Emmanuel Lofton RB 5-6 145 Fr.
50 Rehn Foss OL/DL 6-5 290 Jr.
51 James Wiggins LB 5-10 185 Soph.
52 Kaylon Ford OL/DL 5-11 265 Jr.
55 Tahj Smith OL/DL 5-11 250 Soph.
56 Brooks Jenkins OL/DL 6-4 250 Sr.
57 Markus Merritt OL/DL 5-11 185 Soph.
58 Martin Duane OL/DL 6-0 165 Fr.
59 Lenard White OL/DL 6-0 220 Soph.
60 Abric Johnson OL/DL 6-4 270 Soph.
61 Zach Ballard OL/DL 6-2 210 Soph.
62 Hayden Riley OL/DL 5-11 155 Fr.
63 Mike Stumm OL/DL 5-9 185 Jr.
64 Sam Jones OL/DL 6-0 215 Soph.
65 Kenji Lopez OL/DL 5-5 155 Fr.
66 Jerome Maddox OL/DL 6-0 240 Soph.
67 Matt Ravaioli OL/DL 5-7 165 Fr.
68 Brandon Brinson OL/DL 5-11 150 Fr.
71 Patrick Moore OL/DL 6-0 175 Jr.
72 Lucas Castelvi OL/DL 6-0 250 Jr.
73 Brian Perdue OL/DL 6-0 230 Jr.
74 Alex Perez OL/DL 5-7 190 Fr.
75 Logan Ballard OL/DL 6-5 255 Jr.
76 Dillon Roberts OL/DL 5-9 140 Fr.
77 Skyler Korinek OL/DL 5-10 165 Fr.
78 Curtis Johnson OL/DL 6-0 200 Fr.
79 Wes Unik OL/DL 6-2 230 Fr.
82 Carter River WR/DB 6-2 140 Fr.