Change doesn't happen quickly for a Mark Clifford offense.
The Beaufort High School football coach would probably be among the first to point this out. But sometimes, tweaks are deemed necessary. In the past few years, Clifford has added a Wildcat look and other subtle changes to take advantage of his playmakers. The splitbacks remained the staple.
After consecutive seasons without a Class 4-A playoff appearance, Clifford is shaking things up.
Beaufort High will operate some out of the shotgun. Clifford said many of the elements would remain the same as when the Eagles' quarterback is under center. Out of the shotgun, Clifford will try to take advantage of senior quarterback Ben Vaigneur's mobility.
He expects the Eagles to run more sweeps and has called some read option during preseason scrimmages.
"It's not your typical shotgun offense," Clifford said. "Really all it is is our offense out of the shotgun. We're still going to go under. We're going to still mix it. We've got a great little quarterback read for Ben to run. It looks real good out of the gun. I think everybody's excited about it."
With numbers down and a move to Class 3-A expected in 2014, the Eagles will face a difficult quest to end their recent playoff drought.
Beaufort High still has some of the physical presence that has been its trademark during recent seasons, evidenced during a hard-hitting scrimmage with rival Battery Creek High School. But more Eagles will be asked to play both ways in 2013 -- guys like Mike Rentz and Andrew Smyth, who might otherwise be able to focus on offensive line.
After the scrimmage with the Dolphins, Clifford said he was looking for more "full-speed guys." He identified linebacker T.J. Watts, the defense's leading returning tackler who returned an interception for a touchdown during a preseason scrimmage, as an example.
The new-look backfield should include senior running back Josh Roberts, who played only two games in 2012 before having to leave the team. Roberts said he and former Beaufort High running back JaClay Mixon had big plans to share carries before Mixon finished with the bulk of the load.
Roberts said he could hear Beaufort High games from his house, that he delivered on the work required during the summer and had kicked the issues that kept him off the field in the past.
"It feels really good to be back out here," Roberts said. "... I think (fans are) going to be like, 'Who is No. 5? Where has he been?' "
Roberts will complement power runner Eric Blakely.
Sophomores Jeffrey Tookes and William Spann, despite their small stature, probably will rotate in alongside Vaigneur. Both scooted all over the field during the scrimmage with Battery Creek.
And junior receiver Da'Quon Cason, who did not play as a sophomore, grabbed a 40-yard touchdown pass during the scrimmage.
The weapons are new, but Clifford thinks they will mesh once everyone is clear on the plays and how things work from the gun.
"The young kids are going to need to step up," said Rentz, a senior. "As soon as they get good, we'll be all right."
Stadium: Eagles Stadium
Region: Region 8-AAAA
Coach (years at school): Mark Clifford (10th year, 74-32)
2012 results: 4-7, 1-4 Region 8-AAAA
Key losses: RB JaClay Mixon, LB Clint Wright, DL James Ginn, OL Caleb Gee, S Zach Brown
Top returning starters: LB TJ Watts, TE Stephen Baggett, DL Kentrell Seabrook, DB AJ Smalls
Key newcomers: WR Jawon Mack, RB Jeffrey Tookes, RB William Spann
Date Opponent W/L Score
Aug. 24 at Wando L 37-0
Aug. 31 AIKEN W 48-13
Sept. 7 GROVES W 37-0
Sept. 14 CANE BAY L 28-20
Sept. 21 CAROLINA FOREST W 42-28
Sept. 28 at Goose Creek L 65-14
Oct. 5 at Bluffton L 34-10
Oct. 12 SUMMERVILLE L 45-28
Oct. 19 ASHLEY RIDGE L 17-12
Oct. 26 at Fort Dorchester L 49-35
Nov. 2 at Colleton County W 29-28
HOME GAMES in CAPS *Playoff game
Note: All games at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 30 WANDO
Sept. 6 at Aiken
Sept. 13 at Groves
Sept. 20 at Cane Bay
Sept. 27 at Carolina Forest
Oct. 4 GOOSE CREEK
Oct. 11 BLUFFTON*
Oct. 18 at Summerville*
Oct. 25 at Ashley Ridge*
Nov. 1 FORT DORCHESTER*
Nov. 8 COLLETON COUNTY*
HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent
Players to watch
Stephen Baggett, TE
The East Carolina recruit is a relentless blocker who will allow Beaufort High to try a variety of sweeps. Baggett also has become a better route-runner. Eagles coach Mark Clifford, a former tight end, is working with his senior on reading coverages and knowing where to sit in a zone.
TJ Watts, LB
Clifford wants more full-speed guys and with Watts, he already has one. The Eagles' leading returning tackler has been pulled over to play some offense during preseason scrimmages. He tallied 82 tackles in 2012, including 11 tackles for loss.
Three keys to the season
2013 roster (in numerical order)
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
1 Jawon Mack DB 5-7 150 Jr.
2 Nathan Parker DB 5-10 150 Jr.
3 Malcolm Simmons DB 5-11 169 Jr.
5 Josh Roberts RB 6-0 180 Sr.
6 Jordan Clegg DB 5-10 162 Sr.
7 TJ Watts LB 6-0 195 Sr.
8 Eric Blakely RB 5-10 180 Sr.
9 AJ Smalls DB 5-10 170 Sr.
12 Keaton Butler WR 5-6 140 Jr.
14 Ben Vaigneur QB 5-11 174 Sr.
15 Conner Gruel QB 5-8 161 Soph.
17 Kameron Jenkins WR 5-11 150
18 Da'Quan Cason WR 5-10 145 Jr.
20 William Spann RB 5-4 140 Soph.
21 Gaige Roy LB 5-10 170 Soph.
22 Tyler Clancy DL 5-7 195 Jr.
23 Tyler Payne WR 6-0 160 Jr.
24 Jason Senn LB 5-8 175 Jr.
25 Henry Jones RB 5-10 155 Soph.
27 Chris Lykes LB 6-1 219 Sr.
30 Colby Chalmers RB 5-10 175 Soph.
32 Jeffrey Tookes RB 5-8 135 Soph.
33 Mitchell Nestler LB 5-11 197 Sr.
34 Brady Cormier K 5-10 156 Jr.
35 Matthew Haigler WR 5-11 150 Soph.
40 Hunter Green DL 5-9 180 Jr.
42 Jonathan Hill DL 6-0 198 Sr.
43 Bernard Thompson DL 6-6 205 Sr.
45 Griffin Painter DL 6-0 185 Jr.
50 Alex Mahala LB 5-8 160 Sr.
51 Andrew Smyth OL 6-0 205 Jr.
52 Tyler Rentz OL 6-1 256 Jr.
54 Alex Tokar DL 5-11 220 Jr.
55 Howard Graham DL 5-9 265 Sr.
56 Cooper McCormick LB 6-0 175 Sr.
58 Eli Glisson DL 6-0 220 Soph.
60 Mike Rentz 6-2 225 Sr.
61 Ayden Couch OL 6-1 160 Jr.
65 Chris Harp DL 5-8 235 Sr.
66 Zack Loftis OL 5-10 245 Soph.
69 Clark Henderson DL 5-9 200 Soph.
71 Hunter Adkins OL 6-3 283 Sr.
72 Kentrell Seabrook DL 6-2 245 Sr.
73 Shaeffer Jenkins OL 5-11 266 Sr.
74 Alex Copeland OL 6-5 238 Sr.
76 Dajuan Bowers OL 5-10 273 Soph.
79 Pete Jones DL 6-1 370 Sr.
80 Stephen Baggett TE 6-6 220 Sr.
81 Jordan Bates P/K 6-2 165 Jr.
82 Derrick Heyward WR 6-0 150 Jr.
84 Zach Marshall WR 6-0 165 Sr.
85 Jackson Williams TE 5-9 156 Jr.
87 Andrew Jezewski DL 6-0 205 Jr.
88 Jeffrey Rhodan WR 6-0 155 Soph.
99 Rayquan Singleton DL 6-3 225 Jr.