The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette acknowledge the best male spring sport athletes from the area's high schools with the annual Spring Sports MVPs and All-Area teams:
Thirty-seven times this year, Chip Tremarelli found the back of the net for the Hilton Head Island High boys soccer team. This after a mere nine-goal junior campaign, when he was the 12th or 13th player on the field for coach Wayne Quinlan.
"Either he turned it on and came out of nowhere ... or I completely missed the boat on him," Quinlan said. "There's an argument that could be made for either one."
Quinlan has no problems with that. Tremarelli eventually found the field for the Seahawks, and did so just in time, as he helped guide Hilton Head High to a 22-4 record and its first Class 3-A state championship. For that, he's been named The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette Player of the Year.
"Honestly, we don't do it without him," said Quinlan, who earned coach of the year honors. "He was not only good through most of the season, but he got stronger as the season went on and had a great run in the playoffs."
His 37 goals were second-most in Class 3-A and more than any player in Class 4-A, and his performances during Hilton Head High's playoff run will almost surely be exaggerated by Seahawks fans as time passes.
He recorded 10 of the team's 16 goals in the postseason, which included a five-goal outing against Myrtle Beach before he netted both scores in Hilton Head High's 2-1 win over Brookland-Cayce to advance to the Lower State final.
"To get the goals that he got in the playoffs was just tremendous," Quinlan said. "And against some really good teams, too. Five goals against Myrtle Beach, who does that?"
Tremarelli does. The veteran, who recently earned a preferred walk-on spot at the University of South Carolina, called the Seahawks' postseason run well before it began in a thrashing of Orangeburg-Wilkinson, when he scored a pair of goals.
"We've got to fill up some of the holes that were left last year," he said that day. "But I think it's really coming together right now. I'm hoping we don't lose another game this season."
They didn't. And the Seahawks had Tremarelli to thank for it.
"I cannot remember any player that I've had in 30-plus years, especially in the playoffs, that was so overwhelmingly dominant in games," Quinlan said.
Player of the Year: Chip Tremarelli, Hilton Head High
Coach of the Year: Wayne Quinlan, Hilton Head High
All-area team: Conner Akers, Beaufort Academy; Shelton Avera, Beaufort High; Fabrizio Camera, Bluffton; Logan Clark, Hilton Head Prep; Conner Goulet, Hilton Head Island; Chris MacMurray, Hilton Head Island; Adrian Morales, Ridgeland-Hardeeville; Eliot McPherson, Hilton Head Island; Chip Tremarelli, Hilton Head Island ; Josh Vellucci, Beaufort High
An opening-round 78 at this year's SCISAA state championship didn't sit well with Hilton Head Christian Academy standout J.D. Lehman.
The Louisville signee had led the Eagles all season long, on the course and off it, and wasn't about to give in now in his final tournament with the program. So he headed to range with his father, Craig Lehman, and began to work on his swing for a couple hours in anticipation of the next day's round.
"He has an amazing ability to focus and overcome adversity in the middle of a golf round," coach Doug Langhals said. "You combine that with his work ethic and his perspective on the game, that's what really made him excel."
His work paid off a day later, as he fired a team-best 71 to lead Hilton Head Christian to the Class 3-A championship. His work helped the Eagles break 300 on a par 72 for the first time all season, a goal they had set before the year began.
"My senior year was so much fun," Lehman said. "I had a good time. To cap it off with a state championship, which was our goal from the start, was really good. Three years of losing and not being really close, to finally cap it off with a win was fun, for sure."
Lehman stood out amongst a team of mostly underclassmen, leading the group through rough patches as the season grew longer. He set the tone early, finishing second individually at the Golf Etc. Golden Bear Invitational to clinch a season-opening win.
It was a fitting way to start the year for a group that finally put it all together at the end for a SCISAA title.
"We got better as a team," he said. "We finally played well. It was frustrating because none of us ever played that good or put together two rounds at state. We finally did this year."
Player of the Year: J.D. Lehman, Hilton Head Christian
Coach of the Year: Doug Langhals, Hilton Head Christian
All-area team: Josh Fickes, Beaufort High; J.D. Lehman, Hilton Head Christian; Gavin Lindstrom, Hilton Head Island; Bryson Nimmer, Hilton Head Christian; Andrew Orischak, Hilton Head Island; Jonathan Schuble; Hilton Head Christian; Woody Woodward, Hilton Head Prep
Hilton Head Prep tennis coach Clint Van Aswegen never spent much time in front of the No. 1 singles court this past year. He had better things to do than watch Andrew Schafer carve up another opponent.
"He's the one guy on the squad I never had to worry about," Van Aswegen said. "He and I had an inside joke that unless he had a broken leg ... I didn't want him to call me at all during matches. He's just one of those special kids."
Schafer never needed his coach to come help him get through a difficult match. For the third consecutive year, the University of South Carolina signee went undefeated for the Dolphins, ending his three-year career with Prep in perfection. His work helped him take home The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette's player of the year honors for the second consecutive season.
"Coming into Prep my sophomore year, I couldn't even imagine not losing a singles match," Schafer said. "But as I went undefeated my sophomore year I was like, 'Oh, this is kind of cool.' Then I went undefeated in my junior year with a couple third-set scares. That was my goal this year, to stay focused every match and try to be undefeated. Luckily enough I got through it."
His dominance on the court helped lead Prep to the SCISAA state championship, where they fell in a narrow 5-4 defeat to mainstay Porter-Gaud. Away from the Dolphins, Schafer advanced to the main draw of the USTA Pro Circuit Futures event in Vero Beach, Fla., after beating Spencer Papa -- the 20th-ranked junior player in the world at the time -- in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.
"He loves to battle, even if he's having a tough time dealing with whoever is on the other side of the net, he doesn't want anyone to solve the problem for him," Van Aswegen said. "He wants to solve the problem. I've taught some really high-profile tennis players, and he's really got that laser beam focus that's incredible to watch.
"It's like nothing else is going on once he steps on the court. That's what makes him who he is on the tennis court."
Player of the Year: Andrew Schafer, Hilton Head Prep
Coach of the Year: Bob Brown, Bluffton
All-area team: Alex Angus, Beaufort High; Charlie Drake, Hilton Head Christian; Aaron Newland, Bluffton; Matt Oliver, Hilton Head Island; Andrew Schafer, Hilton Head Prep; Jared Woodson, Hilton Head Prep
TRACK AND FIELD
They celebrated like kings.
After an unlikely victory in the 4x400-meter relay at the Class 4-A meet at Lower Richland, Beaufort High School's runners -- Desmond Howard, Nathan Parker, Tony Winston and Darrian Chaplin -- took their time celebrating.
Their time of 3.16.35 set a state record and carried runner-up Spring Valley to a faster time than the 3.16.70 Orangeburg-Wilkinson ran in 1996. The Eagles' relay also broke a school record set in 1989.
The Eagles' boys finished runner-up to Spring Valley at the Taco Bell Classic in April, behind by 4 seconds. A swap in the lineup and some technical work the final week made the difference, Eagles boys coach Al Harvey said.
Tony Winston, who did not run the relay at Taco Bell, grabbed the lead in the second leg, and Howard used his rivalry with Vikings' anchor Bradley Gibson to fuel the final leg.
"They went into the race with a lot of confidence," Harvey said.
Athletes of the Year: Beaufort High 4x400 relay team -- Darrian Chaplin, Tony Winston, Desmond Howard, Nathan Parker
Coach of the Year: Blake Bishop, Hilton Head Island
All-area team: Darrian Chaplin, Beaufort High; Dee Delaney, Whale Branch; Shakil Gause, Battery Creek; Colton Hennessey, Hilton Head Island; Desmond Howard, Beaufort High; Robbie Iulo, Hilton Head Island; Jack Manesiotis, Hilton Head Island; Nathan Parker, Beaufort High; David Partridge, Battery Creek; Zach Polk, Hilton Head Christian; Jamario Williams, Hilton Head Christian; Tony Winston, Beaufort High; Whale Branch 4x800
The Seahawks were reeling.
Hilton Head Island High's lacrosse team was 2-4 after consecutive one-goal losses. After so many years of success under former coach Joe Monmonier, the Seahawks were staring at a season without a postseason appearance dead on.
"I think a lot of it was, we kind of got woken up," junior Nate Jones said. "I don't think we were cocky going into it. We just needed a wake-up call, especially with the younger players. ... I think we got humbled. It was what we needed."
It was Jones who drew the early task of becoming the Seahawks' veteran leader, as the Army commit took over for a team playing without its All-American from a season ago in Nick Bautista. He showed his teammates he was up to the challenge with an 11-goal performance in an upset win over Spartanburg, which in turn jump-started a five-game winning streak for the Seahawks.
"I just remember walking off that field knowing we were going to be able to take anybody in the state," Jones said. "Following a really hard game at Riverside, we beat a premier Upstate team. From that point on we were clicking."
Jones would go on to finish his junior season with 52 goals, 21 assists and 73 points. He was named first-team all-state, first-team Lower State attack and earned a spot on the U.S. Lacrosse All-American team, just like Bautista did in 2012.
"It really helped that WIll Urbin came around during the season," he said. "The offense didn't really have to run through me as much. I was just able to capitalize on opportunities I was presented. I was just working hard to get open looks."
Player of the Year: Nate Jones, Hilton Head High
Coach of the Year: Dennis Daly, Hilton Head High