High School Football

2013 Football Preview: Hilton Head High hopes to build up steam during season

ccox@islandpacket.comAugust 29, 2013 

Hilton Head Island's Poona Ford, left, and Khalil Lewis stand for a portrait at Hilton Head Island High School.

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Gone are the usual suspects of the Hilton Head Island High School offense. There is no more Michael Julian, now busy playing quarterback at the University of Toledo. There is no go-to wide receiver in Adam Orischak or James Sanders.

But don't tell coach B.J. Payne that his offense will suffer. The second-year Seahawks coach believes he has the tools necessary to keep building his Hilton Head High football program.

"We feel good about where we're at," Payne said. "We feel that we're going to be better than we were last year. We're going to improve every week."

Steady improvement will be a welcome change for a Seahawks team that lost its final four games in 2012 and three of its final four games in 2011. Hilton Head High lost by an average of 31 points in those seven defeats, with its defense surrendering an average of 55 points.

But Payne sees two senior captains who may help right this ship. It starts on the defensive line with tackle Poona Ford, a Louisville commitment who racked up 154 tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his junior season after moving up from the middle linebacker position.

Ford highlights a defense that featured mostly freshmen down the stretch in 2012, as first-year corners Jon Baty and Chris Skager anchored a beleaguered secondary down the stretch.

"Our corners have been working really hard on not getting beat," Ford said. "But we still have some stuff to work on. We should be better by the beginning of the season."

Ford takes on the quiet approach as the leader of the defense, unlike his counterpart on offense, the much more vocal Khalil Lewis. The senior tailback -- who enters his final season with offers from Florida Atlantic, Charlotte and Massachusetts -- will be the focal point of the new-look Seahawks offense.

Lewis broke former N.C. State tailback Ray Robinson's school single-season rushing record in 2012 by gaining 1,703 yards. Lewis averaged 8.6 yards per carry and scored 12 touchdowns.

"We want to establish the physicality with Khalil," said Payne, who noticed a burst from Lewis in preseason practice that he didn't appear to have last season. "He's probably up to 200 pounds. He's a workhorse. He wants the ball probably 40 times a game."

Lewis may need to carry 40 times a game until Hilton Head High works out its quarterback quandary. Senior Ben Oliff, a passer, and sophomore Aiden Hegarty, a runner, have yet to separate themselves from one another in fall practice. Payne said he would prefer not to feature a two-quarterback system, but may find himself doing just that when the Seahawks kick off against Whale Branch Early College High School on Friday.

"They both bring different things to the table," he said. "Obviously, we know what we're doing offensively. But if we ended up in a two-quarterback system, I wouldn't be surprised."

Whom they will throw to remains in question as well. With Orischak and Sanders gone -- a duo that combined for more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns last season -- junior Jordan Rozek is first in line to step up. Aaron Frazier, who also mans the free safety position, will vie for time, too. Payne also has raved about incoming freshman Tyler Hamilton, a speedy slot receiver who was the only first-year player to come along on Payne's annual summer recruiting tour.

"He has had an absolutely incredible summer and spring," Payne said. "He's opened up a lot of eyes. He brings a whole different dimension to what we do."

Ford realizes the name players from a year ago are no longer with the program. But the captain looks down his roster and sees the potential for a better season nonetheless.

"I'm ready," he said. "I'm hoping I can lead this team to a deep playoff run."

Team Information

Stadium: Hilton Head Island Community Stadium

Region: Region 8-AAA

Coach (years at school): B.J. Payne (second year, 5-6 overall)

2012 results: 5-6 overall, 2-3 Region 8-AAA. Lost to Strom Thurmond in the first round of the Class 3-A playoffs

Key losses: QB/DB Michael Julian, WR/DB Adam Orischak, WR/DB James Sanders, RB/LB Scott D'Amico, WR/DB Jonny Dillon, K Colin White

Top returning starters: RB Khalil Lewis, OL/DL Poona Ford, QB/DB Aiden Hegarty, WR/DB Aaron Frazier, TE/LB Chase Rhinehart

Key newcomers: WR Tyler Hamilton

2012 recap

Date Opponent W/L Score

Aug. 24 WHALE BRANCH L 29-28

Aug. 31 RIDGELAND-HARDEEVILLE W 54-12

Sept. 7 at Battery Creek W 52-24

Sept. 14 at Wade Hampton W 49-28

Sept. 21 at Bluffton L 80-14

Sept. 28 STALL W 46-35

Oct. 5 at James Island W 29-25

Oct. 12 ORANGEBURG-WILKINSON L 48-42

Oct. 19 HANAHAN L 62-28

Oct. 25 at Berkeley L 51-32

Nov. 2 at Strom Thurmond* L 63-20

HOME GAMES in CAPS *Playoff game

2013 schedule

Note: All games at 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 at Whale Branch

Sept. 6 at Ridgeland-Hardeeville

Sept. 13 BATTERY CREEK

Sept. 20 WADE HAMPTON

Sept. 27 BLUFFTON

Oct. 4 at Stall*

Oct. 11 JAMES ISLAND*

Oct. 18 at Orangeburg-Wilkinson*

Oct. 25 at Hanahan*

Nov. 1 BERKELEY*

HOME GAME in CAPS *Region opponent

Players to watch

Offense

Khalil Lewis, RB

Payne expects his senior tailback to rush for as many as 2,000 yards this season, improving on a junior year in which he broke the single-season school rushing record previously held by Ray Robinson. He may need to do so with the Seahawks breaking in all new players at both the quarterback and receiver position. But he'll have help along the line, as starters Lucas Castelvi and Zach and Logan Ballard all return up front.

Defense

Poona Ford, DL

Ford is the big name on a Seahawks defense that struggled down the stretch in 2012 as Hilton Head High lost its final four games. With Payne's unit notorious for its frequent blitzing and man-to-man coverage, Ford will have to make a living in the backfield to help out the young cornerbacks like Jon Baty and Chris Skager.

Three keys to the season

  • Settle on a plan at quarterback: Payne would prefer not to use a two-quarterback system. But things appear to be shaping up that way, as neither Oliff nor Hegarty have taken hold of the starting job. Hilton Head High must make a decision on what to do about that position, because both players have big shoes to fill in the departed Michael Julian.

  • Shore up the defense: The Seahawks started two freshmen cornerbacks during the latter half of the 2012 season and paid the price through the air. Payne believes the group will show more of a veteran presence this time around and will need to do so if Hilton Head High continues to employ its man-to-man coverage, which features frequent blitzing.

  • Find a go-to receiver: Sanders, Orischak and Jonny Dillon are all gone, and Hilton Head High enters 2013 with relatively unknown players at the receiver position. Frazier and Rozek will get the first shots with the first team to replace them, but Payne is also high on incoming freshman Tyler Hamilton, who brings speed and athleticism to the slot receiver spot.

  • 2013 roster (in numerical order)

    No. Name Position Class

    1 Bryce Singleton QB Fr.

    2 Kaylon Ford OL/DL Sr.

    3 Matt Rozelle QB Sr.

    4 Jordan Rozek WR/DB Jr.

    5 Ben Oliff QB/DB Sr.

    6 Ja'Carri Aiken WR Sr.

    7 Nick Cooper WR/DB Sr.

    8 Trey Days WR/DB Soph.

    9 Tyler Hamilton WR/DB Fr.

    10 Jestin Morrow WR/DB Soph.

    11 Aaron Frazier WR/DB Jr.

    12 Aiden Hegarty QB/K Soph.

    16 Dominique Williams RB Fr.

    20 Chris Skager WR Soph.

    21 Luis Gordillo WR Sr.

    22 PJ Franklin WR Fr.

    23 Tyliek Smith WR/DB Soph.

    24 Khalil Lewis RB Sr.

    25 Eddie Wilberding WR/DB Soph.

    28 Jeremiah Maddox WR/DB Soph.

    30 Jon Baty DB Soph.

    31 Nick Evans LB Soph.

    32 Martin Duane OL/DL Soph.

    33 Logan Johnston WR Fr.

    34 James Wiggins WR/DB Jr.

    36 Gage Jester WR/DB Soph.

    38 DT Smith LB Fr.

    40 Chase Rinehart LB Sr.

    42 Michael Ruth DE Jr.

    44 Miles Wedeking LB Fr.

    48 Benton Soule WR Fr.

    51 Tahj Smith OL/DL Jr.

    52 Cole Brammer OL/DL Fr.

    55 Cedric Knighton OL/DL Fr.

    56 Jeff Wilson OL/DL Soph.

    57 Markus Merritt OL/DL Jr.

    58 Brian Perdue OL/DL Sr.

    59 Lenard White OL/DL Jr.

    61 Zach Ballard OL/DL Jr.

    62 Hayden Riley OL/DL Soph.

    64 Sam Jones OL/DL Jr.

    66 Jerome Maddox OL/DL Jr.

    68 Harvey King OL/DL Fr.

    70 Ian Howard OL/DL Soph.

    71 Corey Erskine OL/DL Fr.

    72 Lucas Castelvi OL/DL Sr.

    73 Matt Ravaioli OL/DL Soph.

    75 Logan Ballard OL/DL Sr.

    77 Skyler Korinek OL/DL Soph.

    78 Curtis Johnson OL/DL Soph.

    80 TaQuan Pope OL/DL Fr.

    80 Kenji Lopez OL/DL Soph.

    88 Savannah Reier K Soph.

    -- Marcos Barrientos OL/DL Fr.

    -- Savion Fuller WR/DB Jr.

    -- Jose Gayton WR/DB Fr.

    -- Dajon Robinson WR/DB Fr.

    -- John Bell Fr.

    -- Andrew Boldon Soph.

    -- John Duncan Fr.

    -- Garvin Richards Soph.

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