On the surface, all looks well for the Thomas Heyward Academy football team.
The Rebels are 7-0 heading into this week's home matchup with Hilton Head Prep.
But coach Nic Shuford says the team needs to keep working to reach its goal of a state championship.
"We weren't executing as well as we could have or should have later in the game," Shuford said about the Rebels' 49-12 win over St. Andrew's on Friday. "Defensively, we have to do a better job of communicating on the field."
While the Rebels haven't really been tested, Shuford doesn't believe the level of competition will trip his team up.
"I told the guys, it doesn't matter who we're playing, how good or bad they are," Shuford said. "We've got to prepare for every game like it's a state championship game or a playoff game. I want to go into every game confident, but we've got to have a little bit more of a killer mentality.
"These are the ones that really count."
DOLPHINS' SLOAN FINDS SECOND WIND
Isaiah Sloan has accepted the fact he will be on the football field an entire game.
The Battery Creek High School junior plays tight end and linebacker in addition to his work on the Dolphins' special-team units. The 6-foot, 235-pound Sloan has proven a stopper from his inside spot on defense and offensively has helped give Battery Creek another dimension.
The Dolphins have several plays drawn up to get the ball to their sure-handed tight end. This past Friday against Bishop England, Sloan caught three passes for 63 yards, including a 25-yarder for a touchdown late in the game.
Battery Creek likes to run the option and feeds its running backs often. Sloan provides the Dolphins with a sneak attack.
As for the fitness needed to play all four quarters, Sloan said he is well-prepared.
"Coach (Jim) Shuman has prepared us to keep our stamina up," Sloan said. "We're a long-winded team. Coming out here every play of the game, every special team, it's nothing to me. I'll do it all night for him."
Another versatile player, Yuneek Crittendon, went down Friday with a foot injury. Shuman said he expected Crittendon to miss at least two games.
Crittendon, a running back and linebacker, has done a little of everything for Battery Creek through the first half of the season. Shuman said his biggest void will be left on defense, where Crittendon allowed Shuman a lot of flexibility in what coaches called.
On offense, Shuman said the Dolphins have enough running backs to absorb the hit.
"Maybe not with the speed of Yuneek," Shuman said. "We'll have to work harder on our return game and our defensive game."
CAST YOUR VOTE
To take part in the fan vote for the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette's area player of the week, visit www.facebook.com/IPBGsports.
Here are this week's candidates:
Charlie Wilmot, Hilton Head Prep: 145 yards passing, two touchdowns; 150 yards rushing.
Brad Meccariello, Hilton Head Christian: five carries 45 yards; three catches, 95 yards; eight tackles.
Deo'Vonte Doe, Ridgeland-Hardeeville: 121 yards rushing, three touchdowns.
Ryan Day, Thomas Heyward: nine carries, 105 yards, three touchdowns; 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.
JD Tuten, Thomas Heyward: six carries for 67 yards; 7 of 13 passing for 124 yards, touchdown; 55-yard punt return for a touchdown; 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Michael Julian, Hilton Head Island High: 10 carries, 116 yards, touchdown; 14 of 25 for 228 yards, three touchdowns.