High School Football

Time of change, optimism as area high schools begin football practice

sports@islandpacket.comAugust 2, 2013 

Friday is a day of clean slates. A day of anticipation.

The first day of football practice for South Carolina's public high schools is a day to begin answering challenges.

At Bluffton High School, the Bobcats will see if they can adapt for another season -- this time with a new group of faces.

Bluffton reached the Class 3-A state championship game in 2011 and the Class 4-A Division II Lower State final in 2012 but lost many of its key contributors from those teams.

"We were run-oriented the first year, pass-oriented the second two," said Bluffton coach Ken Cribb, whose team starts practice at 8 a.m. Friday. "This year, I think we'll be real balanced."

Among the other storylines:

  • Battery Creek High School starts its second season in Class 2-A after winning a playoff game for the first time in 10 years.

  • Beaufort High School works toward a return to the Class 4-A playoffs after falling short the past two seasons.

  • Hilton Head Island High School will begin replacing Michael Julian, its star quarterback who signed with Toledo.

  • Ridgeland-Hardeeville hired a new offensive coordinator, Eddie Johnson, who coached 14 years at the college level, including stops at Wofford, Wingate, Newberry and Savannah State. Johnson is installing a spread offense.

  • At Whale Branch, sophomore quarterback Devonta Glover gets his shot after senior Brandon Morton graduated.

  • Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford was fired up Thursday after a district coaches meeting, which featured motivational speakers, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes lunch and pointers on professionalism.

    Clifford, whose team is trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, said this is an optimistic time.

    "Every team in the state has a plan to win," Clifford said. "We've had a great summer."

    Clifford asked players to work out three times a week during the summer, with a week off. He said 80 percent of his guys made at least the requested 21 workouts.

    "They're doing everything we asked them to do," Clifford said. "Tomorrow starts another segment of the year. We just have to continue on."

    Bluffton starts camp after graduating more than 20 seniors, including record-setting quarterback C.J. Frazier. Sophomore Alex Davis will fill the role.

    "He doesn't have the touch that C.J. had, but he's had a great summer and he's got a very strong arm," said Cribb, starting his fourth season. "The whole thing is developing his touch on the ball and learning our offense more and more thoroughly."

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